Community Supported Business


You have heard of CSA (Community-supported farming). CSA is a way to buy food from the public to create a link to the farm and get a weekly basket of products. By making a financial commitment to a farm at the beginning of the season, people become CSA's "members" (or "shareholders", "investors" or "subscribers"). CSA's movement has helped sustain the independence of healthy and healthy farming.

The CSA principle is now applied to many other business sectors. With the meltdown of the economy, the business is likely to grow even faster. Community-backed business makes sense, especially for community banks.

Books: The system can work equally well with other local consumer markets. Examples include published by the community publication (eg Southend Press) and bookstore. I invest in a rural bookstore, Putney Books in Vermont, where I paid $ 1,000 for a certificate, and I received $ 25 worth of books for 48 months and a 10% discount in the store. This gives me a 20% return for 4 years, and the rebate and reward to support a local business.

dining room: In Portland, Maine, there is a Community-backed Kitchen that provides local and organic food that is prepared year-round for members on a similar basis to the CSA system. In Morrisville, Vermont (which has 55 farms), there is a CSA restaurant where, in return for a $ 1,000 loan, investors get coupons that can buy for $ 90 a quarter for three years.

This is a small scarce return on investment, but in the first six weeks of the launch, the Bees Knees restaurant has raised $ 20,000. They started selling $ 1,000 "community-supported restaurant certificates" to help fund the project. In return, customers receive $ 1080 for food vouchers. Customers are also arranged to give unsecured loans amounting to $ 5,000. In return, investors will receive 4% return on their investments and 10% discount on their payments. The company was followed by Claire's restaurant, Hardwick, Vermont. Launched by four partners in May 2008, it also builds on a community-based investment and business model and has raised more than $ 40,000 in municipal loans.

fishingPort Clyde Fresh Catch is a community-supported Maine fish where investors can register for a weekly shrimp share. The fourteen week shares $ 210) offer 10lbs of shrimp a week or half of the shares ($ 105) that give 5lbs. Another is the wild cat from Skier Oto. For $ 250 / year, members receive approximately 35lbs of whole, fresh and / or frozen salmon that is available directly from the fisherman, amounting to about 7 fish at about 5lbs each (about $ 7 / lb).

production: The Community-supported production concept means returning the means of production in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. The concept here is to redirect production. An example is Prumitei, the fire center in Francardu in Corsica, where my friend Fanfan Griffi creates a craft center and a restaurant with workshops based on the use of fire: ceramic, glass and bronze foundations. He collects money from local authorities, non-profit organizations, large and small shareholders. Post Carbon Institute has a CSM and Power Point briefing that you can download.

Energy: WindShare is a pioneer in the Toronto-based Nonprofit Cooperative, with a mandate to provide renewable electricity to people in Ontario through community ownership. The internal rate of return is expected to be 7.23% per annum over a 20 year period, with no average person, no fund management fees or other associated administrative costs. Sixty-six Minnesota investors won all available shares in two wind power companies (MinWind I & II) for 12 days. Eighty-five percent of the shares must be owned by farmers and the rest – for local citizens and non-farmers. Each share gives the owner one vote in the company and no one can own more than 15 percent of the shares. Now there is MinWind III-IX, similar to the first two projects that started to produce energy in 2002.

Chicago-based Indian energy based on geothermal clean energy systems has a simple equation mission that has become: Local Geo + Local People = Economic, Environmental and Social Profit. "Organized labor, together with the private and public sectors, are the three pillars on which the new renewable energy economy will be built," said Daniel Chiefs, CEO of Indie Energy. Indie Energy is backed by ShoreBank, which is committed to building vibrant communities by providing financial services and information to create economic justice and a healthy environment.

What next?

Opportunities are almost endless. The only consideration is that the product can be consumed within the community and that there is a way to put the business on a profit, non-profit or hybrid. Since the standard availability of a business loan has fallen to drain and risk capital has been excluded, there is nothing else but a wide-open blue ocean with few fish floating in it.

A satellite market is social or P2P (Peer to Peer) investments and loans, using intermediaries such as the Lending Club, a social credit network where borrowed borrowers and individual investors come together to provide value that traditional banks can offer. Or on the basis of doing yourself you can use Virgin Money. They manage loans between relatives and friends and are pioneers in the emerging space for social lending.