Too often, we’re pretty disconnected from our money, our food, and our local community, and while we may have the desire to bring about positive change in those areas, we may not even know where to start. After all, what good can a small donation or loan do, considering the challenges facing small and local food businesses, especially when compared to the huge market share that big food businesses control?
Building a new model for microfinance and a healthy, connected, food system doesn’t need to be nearly as complicated as we might think, as the collective effort of the small actions of hundreds or thousands of people can be leveraged to generate real, lasting, change.
And there’s a new kid on the block that wants to do so, using the collaborative power of the internet and the principles of Slow Money and crowdfunding to bring money and food back down to earth.
Gatheround, a Slow Money initiative, centers around a series of live online events. each featuring a leading food system influencer and several early stage small food entrepreneurs, along with an interactive Q&A portion. To be involved, people pony up a $25 tax-deductible donation, which will then end up being directed to the participating food entrepreneur of their choice, along with that of other participants, as a zero-interest loan to help them grow their food business into a more viable sustainable venture.
- Learn, share, fund: a new way to support small food businesses: Gatheround is a live online event, your chance to engage with a cutting-edge thought leader and a handful of small food entrepreneurs who are leading the charge in the food movement and building principled early-stage companies. Think: a TED-style talk about a food sector + a pitch-fest by food entrepreneurs in that sector + interactive Q&A participation.
- Life after fast food and fast money: By supporting small food entrepreneurs, we are doing more than supporting grain mills and creameries and seed companies and CSAs and microbreweries and grass fed beef producers and cheesemongers and niche organic brands. We are building a new economy, a restorative economy. We are taking a little of our money from there–the world of fast money and fast food–and putting it to work here–near where we live, in things that we understand, that directly improve our quality of life– starting with food.
- You donate to us, we loan to the entrepreneur of your choice: Your $25+ fee for a login to the Gatheround is a tax-deductible donation. After listening to the entrepreneur presentations, you direct us to send those dollars to the entrepreneur of your choice. We do this as a zero-percent loan, and when it gets repaid we recycle those dollars into the pool for Slow Money’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which is given, by popular vote, at Slow Money National Gatherings. By keeping the money cycling this way, small donations can add up to big change.
- A low-cost way to put Slow Money principles into action: Around the country, in Slow Money gatherings large and small, many of you have said, “I want to get involved, but I don’t know much about investing. Where do I even start?” Gatheround is a way to get started. Slow Money Principle 1 is: “We must bring money back down to earth.” Gatheround is your way to join thousands of folks around the country who are working, via Slow Money chapters, investment clubs, and regional and national events, to do just that.
Still in beta, Gatheround’s next event will be on December 10th, 2013, and will feature the organic farming pioneer Eliot Coleman in a discussion about nurturing the soil, and Coast of Maine Organics, Massey Creek Farms, and Ollin Farms as the participating food entrepreneurs pitching their businesses.