Six Truths to Know Before Investing in Food System Change
The onus for creating a new vision of a healthy, equitable and vibrant food and farming system can't be on just the scrappy and hard-working farming and food entrepreneurs. They need investors to help them grow.
But not just any investor. They need investors that support their vision of a fair and healthy food system and understand that profit can be measured in more ways than dollar signs.
By Robert Egger
Over the last 20 years, thousands of small farmers and urban growers have entered the marketplace via a vast network of farmer’s markets. Located in every corner of America, these markets have helped sustain these fledgling eco-businesses, while also reinvigorating the community’s connection to our country’s agrarian past.
At the same time, an even greater number of nutrition-based, social enterprises, B-Corps and, “upcycle” companies have opened with the goal of purchasing locally grown foods to produce healthy snacks, meals, juices, and supplements. This “maker movement” represents a powerful, emerging economic force that prioritizes local purchasing, fair wages, environmentally sustainable practices, and reinvested profits.
At virtually every food-system and social impact summit held across the country, attendees hear about the virtues of local food systems, yet this network’s growth and impact has been limited by their inability to find a reliable middle market… one that is in-between the small scale of most farmers markets and the large volume required by major retailers like Whole Foods. The perfect fit for many of these businesses would be in contracting, or sub-contracting, with local governments for contracts to provide healthy meals and snacks to schools, summer meal programs, senior centers, hospitals, and even prisons
FS6 is a nonprofit based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose mission is to support impact-driven entrepreneurs as they transform how we grow, produce, and distribute food. The organization runs a comprehensive accelerator program that mentors entrepreneurs by coaching them through a wide range of business and organizational needs. FS6 also works to educate stakeholders on the unique capital needs as it relates to redefining the food system.