Slow Money SLO – Feeding Community Business

Supporting our community’s food economy has always been the foundation and heart of Novo Restaurant.  That means not only do we plate the highest quality farm-fresh ingredients, but we are helping to sustain  local food growers and purveyors.  Without these efforts from the community at large farmers’ markets would dwindle and local farms would find it harder and harder to thrive.  Thanks to Slow Money SLO further efforts are hard at work to support our region’s food scene.

Founder Jeff Wade began Slow Money SLO in 2012, inspired by author Woody Tasch (Slow Money: investing as if food, farms and fertility matter).  They provide coaching, networking and support for small, local food and farm businesses. Slow Money SLO is also a connector and facilitator of peer-to-peer lending.  Small business lending is risky, but there are many benefits beyond the financial return and higher risk is often something folks are willing to endure for the greater rewards. These include, knowing where your money is invested; the satisfaction of buying a local product that you helped to support; introducing friends to a local product that you have supported and seeing their business grow; also the enjoyment of seeing the excitement of a food entrepreneur as they see their vision come to fruition.

In many cases, the growth of a small food business which is already successful can be a challenge, because it takes a long time to become eligible for traditional lending. Slow Money SLO’s goal is to help a business grow to the point where they can qualify for an SBA loan or a line of credit. Of course, they would like to see businesses stay local and add jobs and contribute to the overall quality of the local food system, while helping them to grow.
One example is Baba Small Batch, a local hummus company. They had created some great opportunity for themselves, based on the quality and variety of products they sold, but could not keep up with production demands. This often happens with a cottage food business that needs to move to a commercial kitchen, but in their case, their only choice was to find a co-packer. Infrastructure assistance for business such as this,  is something that SLO County does not offer. Food businesses must seek out co-packers in other parts of California and the minimum runs and cost that is added to the product can make a big difference in their ability to survive and grow.
Baba Small Batch was brave enough to decide that if they could purchase some equipment that many co-packers use to fill tubs, than they could maintain control of their production and keep costs within reason. They found some used equipment and Slow Money SLO assisted them with the purchase.
Through local events, meetings, word of mouth and Jeff Wade’s proactive outreach, Slow Money SLO has brought folks to the table who are retired, locally employed, students at Cal Poly and those who may be new to the area and see this as a great way to become immersed. “I enjoy meeting with anyone who may want to learn more, there is never any obligation, but if there is potential interest, I add them to an email list specifically for them to hear about new opportunities as they come along or perhaps provide a loan” – says Jeff.
Slow Money SLO is always seeking to meet local food entrepreneurs, potential lenders, volunteers and donors. They gratefully accept tax deductible donations to support their programs.
Anyone interested may go to their website to learn more, or call, Jeff Wade, 805-300-2805
Their next public gathering is Tuesday February 76-8 pm at the SLO Guild Hall, 2880 Broad St.. SLO  Details on the food business speakers are on the website, and there is always some great food to sample, door prizes and interesting people to meet!