Fair Food Fund Impact Report Q4 2020
Message from the Fund Director
Five years ago, Fair Food Network helped launch a first-of-its-kind healthy food financing initiative in Michigan. Working in partnership with Capital Impact Partners, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Michigan Good Food Fund broke new ground with its commitment to support businesses from farm-to-fork and its grounding in equity. It also demonstrated a new collaborative model that harnessed a network of partners aligned in a shared commitment to increase healthy food access and spark economic opportunity in places that need it most.
Since 2015, initiative partners have deployed nearly $17 million in loans and grants, and the 300+ enterprises supported with financing or businesses assistance have in turn created or retained 1,000+ jobs.
We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together and have learned so much, not least of which is the necessity to keep evolving to meet the needs of those this initiative was designed to serve.
And those needs have never been more serious. While the past year has been turbulent for all businesses, it has been devastating for those led by Black and Brown entrepreneurs. According to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 41% of Black businesses nationwide shuttered from February to April compared to 17% of white businesses, a figure that has likely only increased since.
As we look toward the next chapter of this collaborative, there is a need to further center racial equity in this work in support of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs as well as deepen community engagement to ensure alignment with and accountability to community voice. We also aim to move from individual transactions to entrepreneur cohorts with multiple rounds of financing and business assistance to support their continued growth. Finally, we have made good progress expanding our lending network and will continue doing so to ensure diversity of capital products.
As we move into this next chapter, Fair Food Network is honored to step into management of this initiative starting in 2021. Our impact investing arm, Fair Food Fund, will also join Detroit Development Fund, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, Michigan Women Forward, Northern Initiatives, and Lake Trust Credit Union as an initiative lending partner bringing equity and near-equity products for Michigan entrepreneurs.
We want to acknowledge and extend appreciations to Capital Impact Partners, initiative manager from 2015-2020, for its leadership, partnership, and dedication. It remains a critical partner in this work and will continue to serve as a collaborator and lending partner. We also couldn’t do this work without the continued partnership of MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, which has been at the table since day one.
We can only achieve the change we know is possible — and needed — with this incredible network of partners. And it’s never been more important for us to stand up together.
Also in this quarterly report, we’re excited to announce a NEW investment in Chelsea Business Foundation, a nonprofit supporting Latino-led and small businesses in Chelsea, MA, and a partnership with portfolio company Five Acre Farms bringing fresh milk and eggs from Northeast farmers to area food banks.
Learn more about our Fair Food Fund impact investing arm and its work supporting food entrepreneurs to be the engine of a more equitable future.