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Slow Money, a 501(c)3 non-profit organisation based in Boulder, CO, has had considerable early impact pursuing its mission: To catalyze the flow of capital to local food enterprises and organic farms, connecting investors to the places where they live and “bringing money back down to earth.”
Through their national gatherings, regional events and local activities, over $40 million has been invested into more than 400 small food enterprises around the United States. Twenty-five local networks and 13 investment clubs have formed. Over 30,000 people have signed the Slow Money Principles. Slow Money events have attracted thousands of people from 46 states and 7 countries. Slow Money investing has begun in Nova Scotia, Switzerland, France and Belgium.
Slow Money was started by Woody Tasch, former chairman of Investors' Circle — a nonprofit network of over 200 angel investors, professional venture capitalists, foundations, family offices and others. The idea to initiate the Slow Money movement came to Tasch while he was writing his book Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money– Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered. The non-profit, Slow Money, was founded in November, 2008, following the publication of Tasch's book. The movement gained significant momentum from a number of local and regional meetings, and press coverage during the first half of 2009 leading to an inaugural national gathering.
The inaugural national gathering of Slow Money took place in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Farmer's Market in September 2009. 450 entrepreneurs, farmers, investors, and interested people traveled from over 34 states and 6 countries to attend. A second national gathering, attended by about 600 people, was held at Shelburne Farms in Vermont, June 9–11, 2010. Slow Money's third national gathering took place October 12–14, 2011 in San Francisco, CA at Fort Mason. Over 850 people attended and 30 entrepreneurs presented role-model enterprises. Slow Money's fourth national gathering took place April 29–30, 2013 in Boulder, Colorado, and attracted 650 people from 37 states. Slow Money 2014 in Louisville, KY, the fifth Slow Money national gathering, was the largest such event yet, attracting over 850 people from 46 states. As of early 2015, more than $7 million has been directly invested in 35 small food enterprises that have attended Slow Money national gatherings.
The initial national gathering has resulted in people starting local and regional networks of Slow Money. As of early 2015, 24 local Slow Money networks have formed. In addition, six investment clubs have formed. "No Small Potatoes" (initiated by local participants in the Maine network) was the first local investment club to form. It has 19 members who have committed $5,000 each and has made 29 loans totaling $140,000 dollars. Members of five other Slow Money networks were inspired by this model to follow suit. No Small Potatoes has published all of its formational documents, to make this process easier for others interested in local investing alongside their peers.
In September 2009, a campaign was launched to get one million people to sign the Slow Money Principles that advocate for cultural, ecological and economic diversity in an economy based on healthy people in healthy places. As of early 2015, over 30,000 people have signed the Slow Money Principles.
Incubating new intermediaries
Slow Money's long-term objective is for one million people to commit 1% of their assets to local food systems. Slow Money is incubating new intermediaries. The first of these is the Beetcoin, an online platform which lets individuals contribute as little as $25 to help local and organic food enterprises reach funding goals. All loans are deployed at 0% interest, and every dollar that gets repaid is recycled to future entrepreneurs. In addition to the Beetcoin, there is a new service for small food enterprises, homegrown in the Slow Money family, called Credibles, standing for edible credits. It allows communities to come together and support their local shops by pre-purchasing food. In this way, it expands the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model to other local food enterprises in addition to farms.
Concepts to be developed
Early on, Slow Money founder Woody Tasch also proposed the need for a new class of foundations acting as "I-Funds" with "I" standing for "integral", in which a new foundation charter mandates investment of assets that are consistent with charitable purposes. Another strategy is Slow Munis or tax-exempt municipal bonds dedicated to local food systems. New funds dedicated to organic farmland are being organized. Food funds and "clubs" are being developed locally in many regions. The Slow Money book outlines the need for rebuilding local stock exchanges alongside rebuilding local food systems, asking questions like: "Could there ever be an alternative stock exchange dedicated to slow, small, and local? Could a million American families get their food from CSAs? What if you had to invest 50 percent of your assets within 50 miles of where you live?"
- Local food
- Low carbon diet
- Slow Movement
- Terra Madre
- Socially-responsible investing
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