Imagine a world in which access to capital is no longer a limiting factor for entrepreneurs in the U.S. seeking to solve environmental and social problems through a wide variety of food-based businesses founded upon sustainable values; this is the vision of Finance for Food, a new nonprofit organization based in West Marin, California. Founded in September, 2010 to address a leverage point left mostly unaddressed by other organizations in the field, the mission of Finance for Food is to educate food system entrepreneurs about the full range of capital options available to them, providing information, resources, and technical assistance to facilitate their process of identifying and securing appropriate financing. Our ultimate goal is to increase the pace and scale of the transition to a food system that restores the health of our bodies, families, communities, economies, and environment.

Finance for Food is currently developing the Capital Cookbook, a guide designed to help sustainable food system entrepreneurs in the U.S. overcome the challenges they face in their efforts to raise mission-aligned capital by:

  • Increasing awareness of the breadth of financing options available to support the launch, maintenance, and growth of food-based social enterprises;
  • Demystifying the complicated process of identifying the most appropriate categories of financing options given an entrepreneur's unique situation;
  • Identifying specific financial tools, resources, and financiers in each category; and
  • Providing guidance to assist the process of drafting equitable investment agreements.

In plain English, the Capital Cookbook will serve as an unprecedented guide to financing options that support sustainable food systems, reaching hundreds of sustainable food system entrepreneurs with the following:

  • Descriptions of the various capital options available, including traditional debt and equity, cutting edge options such as crowd-funding, and community-based alternatives;
  • Guidelines for choosing which capital options are the most appropriate given the size, stage, entity type, growth plans, mission, and values (etc) of an enterprise;
  • Template financing agreements that prioritize sustainable values, designed to save entrepreneurs thousands of dollars in attorney fees as they draft investment agreements;
  • Case studies and testimonials highlighting the experiences of food system entrepreneurs who have been there before, including both success stories and cautionary tales;
  • Referrals to sources of capital, financiers, investor networks, and other financial resources;
  • Referrals to organizations and other resources helping individuals and institutions participate in making capital of all types available to food system entrepreneurs.

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