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RSF Extends Additional Financing to GREEN CREATIVE

April 22, 2015

logo11RSF is pleased to announce a new loan to GREEN CREATIVE, a San Francisco Bay Area-based developer and manufacturer of commercial and specification grade LED lighting solutions. RSF financing, in participation with New Resource Bank, will be used to fund working capital needs and build inventory for this ever rapidly growing company.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, lighting accounts for 23% of the commercial sector’s total electricity consumption. As energy demands increase, the energy production required to power buildings will expand the US carbon footprint and weigh heavily on the planet.

Traditional lighting sources such as incandescent and halogen lights contribute to high energy usage and high monthly electric bills. GREEN CREATIVE provides state of the art lighting solutions that reduce carbon footprint and lower electricity, maintenance, and cooling bills. These products generally use 80% less energy than traditional lighting sources. In addition, GREEN CREATIVE lights do not contain Mercury or any other harmful substance.

“RSF is pleased to extend a loan to GREEN CREATIVE and work with a values aligned partner like New Resource Bank,” says Mike Gabriel, RSF Lending Manager. “Together we are helping businesses and building owners save money on electricity bills and accelerating a path to a low carbon future.”

“Securing additional financing allows GREEN CREATIVE to continue innovating and answering the fast growing demand for its products,” says GREEN CREATIVE Principal and Co-Founder, Cole Zucker. “Having financial partners whose long-term social and environmental goals are in line with GREEN CREATIVE’s core beliefs and values means a lot to us.”

LED technology is changing the lighting industry, and producing top products requires ongoing investment in technology development and innovation. GREEN CREATIVE has received significant industry recognition, including several product selections for the prestigious 2013 and 2014 Illuminating Engineering Society Progress Report and the company was a finalist in the 2015 LED’s Magazine Sapphire Award.

“New Resource Bank is thrilled to partner with RSF in supporting the growth of the energy efficiency sector,” affirms Gary Groff, Senior Vice President at New Resource Bank. “GREEN CREATIVE has grown at an unprecedented rate and together we are helping reduce the carbon footprint of households and businesses.”

About Green Creative

GREEN CREATIVE is a 5-year-old solid state lighting development and manufacturing company based in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. The company specializes in providing cutting edge LED lighting solutions for the commercial and specification markets. GREEN CREATIVE is fully integrated with strong R&D capabilities to constantly offer the latest technology available. For more information on GREEN CREATIVE please visit www.greencreative.com

About New Resource Bank

New Resource Bank is the premier bank for people who are leading the way to a more sustainable world. We match an entrepreneurial spirit with a dedication to achieving environmental and social as well as financial returns. Our mission is to advance sustainability with everything we do—the loans we make, the way we operate and our commitment to putting deposits to work for good. To learn more visit www.newresourcebank.com

The Next 25 Social Enterprise Stars: Food & Agriculture

April 20, 2015

RSF_SocentStarsLOGO-300dpi (2)As part of our campaign to add 25 social enterprise stars to our loan portfolio over the next year, we’re looking for new borrowers in all three of our focus areas: Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship. These are broad categories, but because it’s not always obvious whether an enterprise is a fit for us, we’re delving into what we look for in each area. Last month we covered Education & the Arts. Up this month: Food & Agriculture.

In this category, we fund social enterprises working in these areas:

  • Infrastructure supporting resilient regional food systems, especially food hubs, which provide some combination of aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and marketing of regionally produced food. RSF is the country’s most active lender for food hubs, and borrowers such as Common Market provide working models for newcomers.
  • Increasing access to wholesome and healthy food for people who need it most through food banks and other programs. Ceres Community Project, for example, is an innovative program that delivers organic, whole-food meals, usually for free, to people battling serious illnesses (and teaches its teen volunteers to cook in the process).
  • training program 2Reducing food waste by redistributing food to food-insecure populations or using value-added processing to create new consumer products. A star in this area is DC Central Kitchen, which uses surplus food to provide healthy meals to low-income and at-risk DC residents, as well as job training for people who face employment barriers. The company was recently featured in the Huffington Post.

In the packaged goods sector, we seek out companies whose products are both environmentally and socially responsible. Our newest borrower, Harmless Harvest, is a great illustration of what we’re looking for: the San Francisco–based social enterprise sells the first coconut water in the United States to earn the Fair for Life fair trade certification.

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Photo courtesy of Harmless Harvest

To achieve the certification, Harmless Harvest had to demonstrate fair trade practices at each level of its supply chain; form long-term, ongoing partnerships with workers who manufacture its 100 percent raw and organic coconut water drinks; establish a safe environment with fair wages and benefits for all employees and partners; and institute a fair trade premium that goes towards social initiatives in local communities in Thailand. RSF financing, in partnership with New Resource Bank, will fund working capital needs and inventory build-up during the peak coconut season.

If you know of enterprises in any of our focus areas that could expand their impact with greater access to capital, send them to Wanted: Social Enterprise Stars.

And please pass it on to your network! The more #SocentStars posts there are on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, the more social enterprises we can reach and assist. Many thanks to all those who’ve been tweeting and posting so far.

Here are a few post ideas:

  1. Are you a food or ag enterprise looking for #funding? @RSFSocFinance has loans for #socents. bit.ly/1tH0ytE #SocentStars
  2. How could your #socent grow with the right #funding? Apply for an @RSFSocFinance loan: bit.ly/1tH0ytE #SocentStars
  3. Help find RSF’s next 25 #SocentStars. Send your faves to @RSFSocFinance loan info page: bit.ly/1tH0ytE #socent

RSF Makes a Loan to Harmless Harvest

April 14, 2015

Harmless_Harvest_logoWe are pleased to announce a new loan to Harmless Harvest, a San Francisco-based social enterprise that sells 100% Raw & Organic Coconut Water, which is sourced and bottled in Thailand from the harvest of a specific species of coconuts called Nam Hom. RSF financing, in participation with New Resource Bank, will be used to fund working capital needs and build inventory during the peak coconut season to sustain the growing demand of Harmless Harvest products in the United States.

Driven by a belief in positive consumerism and the need for more integrity in our brand-based culture, Justin Guilbert and Douglas Riboud founded Harmless Harvest in 2009. Their business is based on the belief that production and industries don’t have to be detrimental to the environment or the communities at the source, their intention being to promote constructive capitalism. This model values and rewards every stakeholder and contributor in the supply chain, from the farmers to the end consumers, and is committed to positive ecological impact.

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“The values of Harmless Harvest are directly aligned with RSF’s dedication to supporting new economic models that support sustainable food and agriculture,” says Ted Levinson, Senior Director of Lending at RSF. “They are making this happen at all levels of the company—production, distribution, and retail—while also raising public awareness of the value of organic farming.”

Option_4In September 2014, Harmless Harvest became the first Fair for Life fair trade certified coconut water in the United States. In order to achieve this certification, the company was required to demonstrate fair trade practices at each level of its supply chain; form long-term, ongoing partnerships with workers who manufacture their products; establish a safe environment with fair wages and benefits for all employees and partners; and utilize a fair trade premium that will go towards social initiatives in local communities in Thailand. The company plans to apply its fair trade premium towards creating funds for health and education related improvements in Thailand.

“With a mutual focus on social and environmental impact, the partnership between RSF, New Resource, and Harmless Harvest is a clear fit,” says Douglas. “With this loan, we are able to expand our business along with the fair trade and organic practices we require.”

Justin adds, “The loan from RSF and New Resource means more land and water is safeguarded from chemical pesticides and fertilizers, more individuals are employed with a decent wage, and more people are able to consume healthy products. We are proud to work with like-minded organizations and to use this loan to prove that better products can be made in better ways.”

Harmless Harvest has worked hard to form partnerships with Thai communities, offering stable options for employment and income with a focus on long-term growth and sustainability. By investing to build a modern production plant near the Thai farms, the company is now able to employ over 200 local workers, with a goal of doubling that number over the next two years. The co-founders are working with local co-ops to develop new capacity throughout the region, and they expect the number of coconuts available to increase by 200% by 2016. The company has also developed a teaching farm in Thailand promoting organic and sustainable farming practices to Thai farmers.

“It is very encouraging to see that the core values with which Harmless Harvest operates, values that benefit the environment and promote the well-being of local economies, can be a catalyst for success,” notes Bill Peterson, Chief Credit Officer for New Resource Bank. “At the same time, it is great to have a partner like RSF Social Finance that recognizes that financial institutions can act as agents of change by supporting companies that operate sustainably.”

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About Harmless Harvest

Founded in 2009 by Douglas Riboud and Justin Guilbert, Harmless Harvest is a progressive food & beverage initiative set on demonstrating that an ecosystem-based business model can and should be how food is made. By combining innovative scientific methods with local traditional knowledge, Harmless Harvest integrates the long-term welfare of all its stakeholders – from plant to customer – in the creation of better products for all. For more information, visit www.harmlessharvest.com

About New Resource Bank

New Resource Bank is the premier bank for people who are leading the way to a more sustainable world. We match an entrepreneurial spirit with a dedication to achieving environmental and social as well as financial returns. Our mission is to advance sustainability with everything we do—the loans we make, the way we operate and our commitment to putting deposits to work for good. To learn more, visit www.newresourcebank.com

 

Innovative Meal Delivery Program Heals More Than Just Bodies

April 10, 2015

Cathryn Couch traces the start of her non-profit, the Ceres Community Project, to one irritating phone call. She was living in Sonoma County in 2006 and working as a chef at a retreat center, when an acquaintance called, asking Couch to hire her daughter. The catch? The teen couldn’t cook.

The mother was insistent, despite her daughter’s lack of skills, so Couch suggested that they cook meals together and take them to the homeless shelter. Then she remembered a family whose mother had Stage 4 breast cancer. After three weeks of cooking for that family and two others with a similar need, Couch woke up one morning with the thought: Why not train teens to cook for families affected by serious illness? “When people are sick,” says Couch, “they’re thrown into this incredibly stressful situation, and preparing meals goes out the window, even though that’s when they need healthy food the most.”

Seven months later, Couch launched Ceres with a small group of teen volunteers cooking out of a church kitchen one afternoon a week. Since then, with the help of RSF Social Finance, Ceres has expanded to serve more than 90,000 meals this year alone to seriously ill people in Sonoma and Marin counties.

Inspiration

Though Couch’s business model is straightforward—teaching teens to cook for seriously ill people and their families—her hope is to change the entire food system, from how food is grown and prepared to an understanding of its role in wellness. “The way we feed ourselves is fundamental to our well-being and connectedness to the world,” she says.

Photo courtesy of Ceres

Ceres client, Robert Karcie.

The organization’s premise is that food has healing power. Many clients come to Ceres at the suggestion of a doctor, friend, or former client. After an initial screening, they receive up to 24 weeks of organic, whole-food meals delivered to their door, usually free. Because many of the families are low income (82 percent have household incomes below $45,000), it’s often the first time they’ve eaten a whole-foods diet. This is an opportunity, says Couch, to change eating patterns for life. She says clients often tell Ceres, “I thought I was eating healthy, having Cheerios and skim milk for breakfast, but now I’m having a kale smoothie.”

The teens also get healthier. “Ceres lets kids know that they’re a vital part of the community and that they matter,” says Ted Levinson, senior director of lending at RSF Social Finance. They also learn to eat more fruits and vegetables and prepare homemade foods. “If we don’t know how to prepare our own food,” says Couch, “we’re really pawns in a food system that, for the most part, doesn’t have our best interests at heart.”

Photo courtesy of Ceres

Innovation

Ceres’ greatest challenge has been that there are more ailing bodies in Sonoma County alone than one small non-profit can properly nourish. Couch has doggedly pursued funding, and today has a funding base that includes thousands of individual donors and dozens of foundation and corporate partners, many in the organic food industry. Whole Foods Market provides cash support and in-kind food donations, and also sells 12 Ceres-branded salads in their Northern California stores. One dollar from each pint goes to the non-profit.

But by 2010, Ceres (which is named after the Roman goddess of agriculture) still hadn’t found a permanent home. It had 12 staff members, no office space, and was using a catering kitchen available only two days a week. So when the town of Sebastopol offered Couch a building late that summer, she jumped—but it was a run-down, 3,200-square-foot modular facility badly in need of renovation.

Couch approached RSF Social Finance in early 2011 with a financing request that required some creativity: the property was zoned for community use and would be difficult to resell if Ceres were to default. RSF asked Couch to assemble a small guarantee community to support the loan. She did so, and in 2012, RSF lent her $340,000, enabling Ceres to purchase the building and pay back a donor who had contributed funds for an extensive kitchen remodel.

Photo courtesy of Ceres

“It was kind of a no-brainer to have RSF come on as our lender,” says Couch. “I’ve always been interested in developing collaborative relationships with organizations that share our values.”

The new building provided not only a commercial kitchen but also a place to hold meetings and training sessions. Couch has already helped nine communities—including Syracuse, New York, and Nashville—launch similar programs. Ceres’ affiliation with RSF has also helped Couch connect with like-minded thinkers as she tries to influence healthcare policy. She’s currently working with several Sonoma County hospitals to design a pilot program to measure the effects of Ceres meals on reducing readmission rates. “It costs Ceres $476 to provide eight weeks of meals to someone, but one readmission costs the hospital $6,000,” says Couch.

Impact

Photo courtesy of CeresAs a result of RSF’s investment, Ceres has grown rapidly. Its staff increased from 12 to 23 people and it now has two locations in Sonoma and one in Marin. The organization has gone from feeding 28 families in 2007 to feeding 513 in 2014, and, during the same period, from 21 teen volunteers annually to 410. Estimates for 2015 are serving 640 families and 475 teen volunteers.

The organization is eyeing two possible new branches, including one at a soon-to-open Sonoma County facility for kids coming out of foster care, and another at a site in Oakland. Ceres also continues to collaborate with communities around the country. “We look at our work as using a meal delivery program to create healthier food systems, community systems, and healthcare systems,” says Couch. “We want to bring all the pieces together because, really, it’s all one.”

For more information about Ceres, go to: http://www.ceresproject.org/

RSF Spring Quarterly: Can Giving Go Deeper?

April 8, 2015

In the latest issue of the RSF Quarterly we explore the power of gift. RSF community members share stories of the most transformational gifts they have given and received. Kelley Buhles offers insights into what’s happening on the cutting edge of philanthropy. In Clients in Conversation, Barbara Sargent of the Kalliopeia Foundation and Rose Feerick of Harvest Time discuss how their personal biographies led them to seek a connection between money and spirit. Learn how a gift catalyzed the innovative work of a for-profit social enterprise, Eastern Carolina Organics. And, hear from Ted Levinson on how to spot a social enterprise star.

Click here to download an electronic copy of the Quarterly

Cover from Spring 2015 Newsletter

What Am I Working For? – Part II

April 6, 2015

This is Part II of a two-part series on compensation. Click here for Part I.

by John Bloom

John BloomIf labor is not a commodity, then what is it? And what then is the purpose of compensation?

Labor is a resource in the same way that nature is a resource. Each human being has the capacity to tap that resource to work in the physical world and further to turn that capacity in service to the interdependent realm of economic activity. One could say that labor is pre-economic. In the sense that buying and selling are economic, it makes sense to say that you cannot buy labor, but rather the product of that labor.

Then one has to ask, what is this resource of labor? Where does it come from? I do not know any other way to answer that question than to call it gift, a gift that is part of the essential nature of a human being to be developed though life and practical activities. To be a gift, it cannot be bought. Rather, it has to be received as such and then transformed to be of service. While labor is a resource within each person, no two individuals manifest that resource in the same way. Capacities are different; circumstances are different. This is at the core of understanding individuality.

Individuality, the uniqueness of each human being, stands in stark contrast to the homogenizing standard of value that we call money. This standardization is both inherent in the function of money and necessary for the flow of economic activity. The result is that compensation is a holder of both-and. No wonder the tension and complexity. Compensation serves to support and free an individual to bring her or his gifts and capacities in service to others through production, and when received to enable that individual to participate in the rest of economic life through expending the money. There is a kind reciprocal poetic to this process if one imagines that an individual receives a gift of labor as resource, puts that gift in service to an organization (or to one’s own enterprise) with the result that compensation flows back as a result of the organization’s collective activity, and then again disperses and disappears back into the economy as each individual uses their respective compensation to meet material needs.

I hope I have painted a picture of a participatory economy, one that recognizes the value of each human being, not as a commodity but as a necessary resource and co-creator. Further, compensation has a very particular role to play in this broader context. If you accept the assumptions and implications of the advertisement mentioned at the beginning—I should earn what I am really worth—then you have made yourself a commodity. Though one might successfully sell oneself, there is a price to pay. But what is that price? What is the sacrifice? I would say that to commoditize oneself, or to commoditize another by putting a price on them is a measure of dehumanization. This is the very opposite of the direction we need to go in order to create a regenerative economy. I would rather reframe compensation as liberating human capacity in order that each may be of service and contribute to an interdependent world.

John Bloom is Vice President, Organizational Culture at RSF.

What Am I Working For? – Part I

April 1, 2015

by John Bloom

John BloomNo question, how and what we get paid is something we take personally. So, understanding compensation is difficult from philosophical and emotional standpoints. The issue comes with layers of complexity—the stories we tell ourselves about self-worth and a host of other conditioned assumptions about our value, the marketplace, and the organizations in which we work. This should come as no surprise, because the experiences and associations we carry are often framed in a materialist paradigm constantly reiterated in the mainstream business world and through the media. As a typical example, an advertisement in a recent New York Times read: “Earn what you’re really worth.” This is the kind of reductive message that reinforces the notion that “I am what I earn” and nothing more. The materialistic paradigm embraces the story of compensation as an extension of self-interest. Other aspects of one’s being, like our moral character, our capacities, and our need for love are essentially dismissed as subjective or “soft” indicators, even though these are what actually guide my relationships, what I care about, and my ability to discern meaning in life.

For organizations, compensation is a conscious or unconscious, and often inconsistent expression of organizational behaviors, its culture, the predilections of its decision makers, the organization’s history and habits, and its practiced values. One could say that each paycheck marks the intersection of two systems, personal and organizational. And since organizations are also social in nature, there are additional layers of assumptions, judgments, appreciations, and aspirations about compensation permeating social system that remain unaddressed. Under the conditions described above, compensation is basically anti-social and furthers self-interested behavior patterns.

If we are striving to build organizations of people working to lead a regenerative future-bearing economy, however, it is hard to imagine how any organizational coherence, transparency, and mutual understanding of compensation could be achieved without a philosophical covenant based on organizational purpose, values, and principles. And further that this covenant is cultivated and shared by the people working together in that organization. Included in this transformative imagination is first a reconsideration of the nature of work and secondly the relationship of compensation to it—in essence our livelihood.

We can readily grasp how compensation is tied to labor if we assume it is a commodity. Most of us have been raised with this assumption embedded in our psyche, our payroll systems, and in law. I get paid an amount for an hour’s work. If an organization or individual is willing to pay, I can charge more for it. Its perceived value goes up, even though I am the same person regardless of the price. The fact is that whatever I can charge has nothing to do with me as a human being. Rather, this is how market forces work in the world of commodities. In the capital system, producers are constantly trying to reduce the cost of labor in search of higher profit margins. Labor in this sense is a disposable commodity to be replaced with a cheaper version, as profit matters more than the quality of life of the person who is producing that profit. In this system, individuality is sacrificed for the sake of efficient markets—that is to say profitability and return on investment.

The laws of commodities are different than the laws of being human. Things, commodities, the products of human labor, are naturally part of the circulation of goods and services, and are subject to economic forces that have no rightful relationship to the real value of a human being. The market operates on the assumption that an employee is nothing more than his or her labor, and any two or a thousand people are all equal in this regard, that is to say uniformly treated as commodities. If we are really trying to understand how compensation works on a human level, ponder the following: Why does a professional baseball player make a million dollars to play a game, while a teacher makes considerably less, even though students’ futures are critically dependent upon the quality of that teacher’s work? What does this tell us about compensation, and what does it tell us about the relationship between what we vitally value and how that value shows up in the world of money?

We are unlikely to make any progress through our current state of extreme resource inequality, or achieve any level of economic sufficiency, until we realize that labor is not a commodity. The drive to reduce the cost of labor, and to treat it as a commodity to be bought and sold, displaced and replaced, is derived from the competition to maximize profit. This extractive approach has left much human and environmental degradation behind.

In 1914, the Congress of the United States declared in its Clayton Act: “The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce.” This was done in part as a protection against abuse of labor around which the labor union movement had been formed. Thirty years later the same notion, that labor is not a commodity, was reiterated as part of the International Labor Organization’s Declaration of Philadelphia (10 May 1944). In a way, both statements settle the labor as commodity question by saying what it is not. Yet neither offers an affirmative insight into labor in such a way that the sense and purpose of compensation are on clear ground.

If labor is not a commodity, then what is it? And what then is the purpose of compensation?

Click here for Part II

John Bloom is Vice President, Organizational Culture at RSF.

Seed Fund Grantee Highlight: Tanka Fund

March 24, 2015

by Ellie Lanphier

Tanka 1“The four leggeds came before the two leggeds. They are our older brother, we came from them. Before them, we were the root people. We came from them. We are the same thing. That is why we are spiritually related to them. We call them in our language “Tatanka,” which means “He Who Owns Us.” We cannot say that we own the buffalo because he owns us.1

 – Birgil Kills Straight, Lakota elder

Buffalo, hunted to near extinction in the 19th century, were once critical to supporting Native American communities, economies, and way of life. Now, with the market demand for buffalo on the rise, organizations like Indian Land Tenure Foundation and Native American Natural Foods are working tirelessly to ensure Native Americans are a part of the buffalos’ comeback.

In 2014, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and Native American Natural Foods (NANF) received a RSF Seed Fund grant to support their shared efforts to return buffalo to the lands, diets, and economies of American Indian people. Together they established the Tanka Fund in 2012, with a ten year goal to convert one million acres of land to buffalo production.

“The buffalo and the Great Plains were made for each other,” says Mark Tilson, President and Co-founder of NANF. “No species is more suited to the huge prairie ecosystems than the buffalo.” Compared to cattle, which currently dominate the Great Plain region, buffalo can tolerate more extreme temperatures, calve without supervision, produce more meat on less grass, and reproduce longer. Buffalo eat different grasses at different times of the year; this rotation helps restore grass root systems and plays a significant role in prairie restoration.

Beyond the environmental benefits, the Tanka Fund supports the reintroduction of buffalo meat into the diets of Native American communities as means to a healthier people. According to the American Center for Disease Control, Native American people have a 2.3 times higher chance of being diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, and the likelihood is even higher among youth. Many Native American communities suffer from a lack of healthy, accessible food options, either due to poor economic conditions or geographic isolation. In response, the Tanka Fund will provide educational programs on healthy eating and lifestyles as well as incorporate buffalo meat, praised for its nutritional value, into school lunches, take home meal initiatives, and elder meals.

The Tanka Fund also plans to provide technical assistance programming to American Indian ranchers to aid in the conversion from cattle to buffalo, and alongside these efforts, public education programs on the health and environmental benefits of buffalo ranching. Other proposed services include aiding in the development of buffalo ranching, processing and marketing cooperatives, and market demand/feasibility research. For a more complete list of all the activities the Tanka Fund will support, visit this page.

Tanka 2

Photo by Positive Exposures

  1. LaDuke, Winona (1998). Pte oyate: Buffalo nations, buffalo people. St. Paul, MN: Honor the Earth.

Ellie Lanphier is Program Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance

Seed Fund Grantee Highlight: Rosebud Economic Development Corporation

March 19, 2015

by Ellie Lanphier

REDCO logoIn South Dakota, on the 1,900 square miles of the Rosebud Reservation, the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) is working to address high rates of poverty and unemployment and pervasive food insecurity. To support their campaign to increase access to fresh, local foods, REDCO received a RSF Seed Fund grant in 2014 towards the establishment of a community garden and farmers’ market.

REDCO is a non-profit, tribally chartered entity of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate (Rosebud Sioux Tribe). Through many different programs and initiatives, the organization promotes economic development and self-sufficiency to improve the lives of the tribe’s 32,000 members. The tribe currently faces staggering challenges. The county on which it sits is the second poorest in the United States, the life expectancy for men is 47, compared to the national average of 77 years. The tribe faces epidemic levels of alcoholism, suicide, and diabetes that are more than double the national rate. REDCO is committed to generating revenue for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and promoting economic growth through business management and development, economic policy development, and community development.

In 2012, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe put REDCO in control of 600 acres of tribal land adjacent to the tribal-owned Turtle Creek Crossing Supermarket. Over the next 10-15 years it will become the Keya Wakpala Green Development (KWGD), a holistic, resilient, and planned development incorporating community gardens, walking trails, native plant habitat, spaces for cultural and spiritual activities, energy efficient housing, renewable energy, and business incubation. KWGD was recognized as a “Commitment to Action” by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2013. In late 2013, community members, spiritual leaders, and other tribal leaders were asked to prioritize features and services to be included at KWGD. In written surveys, the top four priorities in a long list of options were food or agriculture related: a community garden, grocery store/food co-op, farmers market, and greenhouse.

The Keya Wakpala Farmers’ Market will be a weekly seasonal market, featuring produce grown by the new Keya Wakpala community garden and other reservation gardens. The market will be located in a convenient location, next to the existing supermarket, and as a part of the KWGD. From the time the market opens, they will accept SNAP food stamps and provide opportunities to sample food and educational materials on the relationship between diet and health to encourage adopting a healthy eating lifestyle.

REDCO’s Food Sovereignty Coordinator will oversee the community garden program, and later the farmers’ market. Beyond providing access to fresh, local food, the hope is that it will also create a safe gathering space to come together regularly. Market vendors will receive hands-on entrepreneurship training as well as generate income. REDCO also hopes to encourage and inspire the development of agriculture and food-related industries on the reservation, such as dried buffalo, specialty dried corn and popcorn, and preserves, including the use of wild foods like chokecherries and plums.

REDCO was in touch with RSF since receiving the Seed Fund grant, and described challenges to securing other funding for the garden and market project. The RSF Local Initiatives Fund was able to provide an additional $10,000 grant to support fencing and irrigation costs to get the community garden development underway.

Ellie Lanphier is Program Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance

The Next 25 Social Enterprise Stars: Education & the Arts

March 16, 2015

RSF_SocentStarsLOGO-300dpi (2)As part of our campaign to add 25 social enterprise stars to our loan portfolio over the next year, we’re looking for new borrowers in all three of our focus areas: Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship. These are broad categories, but because it’s not always obvious whether an enterprise is a fit for us we’ll delve into what we look for in each area over the next three months. Up this month: Education & the Arts.

We support many different types of enterprises under this umbrella, including:

Marimi common mealOne of our current borrowers provides a great example in the last category: Camphill Communities California (CCC), a Santa Cruz supportive life-sharing community where volunteer caregivers and individuals with developmental disabilities live and work in a cooperative and rewarding environment. CCC offers everyone the opportunity to learn, grow, and live up to their highest aspirations. CCC is a model and inspiration for how to address the needs of the whole person: body, soul, and spirit. RSF has provided CCC with mortgage and construction loans to expand and improve their facilities.

If you know any enterprises in any of our focus areas that could expand their impact with greater access to capital, send them to Wanted: Social Enterprise Stars. General criteria for borrowers includes:

  • Incorporated in the US or Canada
  • Funding needs ranging from $200,000 to $5 million
  • Enterprise is profitable, or can demonstrate a clear path to profitability in 12 months
  • Annual revenue of $1 million or greater

Please pass it on to your network! The more #SocentStars posts there are on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, the more social enterprises we can reach and assist. Many thanks to all those who’ve been tweeting and posting so far.

Here are a few post ideas:

Are you an arts or edu enterprise looking for #funding? @RSFSocFinance has loans for #socents: bit.ly/1tH0ytE #SocentStars

Does your #socent need capital to grow? @RSFSocFinance provides loans up to $5M: bit.ly/1tH0ytE #SocentStars

@RSFSocFinance is #funding the next 25 #SocentStars. See if you qualify: bit.ly/1tH0ytE #socent

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