Vancouver investors put their money where their mouths are

Fresh produce for sale on Granville Island in 2011 (credit: Wikimedia Commons).

A group of Vancouver entrepreneurs are launching a new investment co-op that provides loans to BC's local food businesses.

Spearheaded by Rory Holland, the co-op aims to turn simple consumers into active supporters of local food and farms, based on the principles of the U.S.-based Slow Money movement that already supports similar small-scale investments south of the border.

“This is about putting our money where our mouths are in terms of growing food systems,” said Holland. “It’s about taking the farmers’ markets to the next level, where ordinary people can invest directly in the businesses that are part of our local food sector.” 

Tonight at 6 pm on Granville Island, members of the investment co-operative will hear pitches by a number of local food companies and those granted loans also receive mentorship for their business.

Holland said that anyone choosing to invest in the fund would enjoy the positive financial, social, and environmental spinoffs that a functioning local food system can generate. Co-op members can also review those businesses that will receive loans from the organization.

“The investment co-op goes beyond money,” said Holland.

Vancity is providing administrative and other non-financial support to help create and develop Knives & Forks. However, the investment co-op is not an affiliate of the credit union, nor is the investment co-op a Vancity product. 

“Knives & Forks is a great way to support local businesses that care about our food system and food security,” said William Azaroff, Vancity’s Vice-President, of community investment. “It aligns with Vancity’s values of supporting local businesses and creating communities that are financially, socially and environmentally healthy.”

Investors in Knives & Forks pay $100 to become members of the co-op, and $2,400 for one share. Members can purchase up to two shares. The co-op will provide loans to B.C. food or food-related businesses that have a capacity for growth and a demonstrated demand for their product or service.

Alongside Holland himself, Knives & Forks’ investment committee and board members include Donovan Woollard, a Vancouver sustainable-business entrepreneur, Ryan Spong, the entrepreneur behind sustainable food-delivery company Foodee, and Kate Dunford, Vancity’s community investment manager for co-ops.

Information adapted from news release

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