Farm Facts & Furrows

by OMAFRA Ag Rep Brian Bell

Fair Finance Fund

The Fair Finance Fund (FFF) is proud to announce the launch of a new social finance fund for the local food and farm sector. The FFF is now fully operational, ready to receive applications and making a splash with impact investors. The FFF lends to social entrepreneurs across the food system who have demonstrable social and environmental benefits as well as a viable business. Every penny invested goes directly to loans. This innovative fund supports the future of local food in Ontario, from seed to supper. Sarah Bakker, farmer and general manager of the National Farmers Union, Ontario, says “I’m really excited about the fund because the impact is going to be exponentially greater than the actual dollar amounts invested.” The Fair Finance Fund (FFF) meets a significant gap in financial support available to the local food and farm sector. Only 25 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed in the sector by the FFF are able to rely on conventional financing; many use credit cards or family loans to operate their business. Among survey respondents alone, the need over the next five years for debt financing is estimated at around $9 million. At the same time, impact investors (who invest based on their values and for a modest return) report challenges in identifying opportunities for their impact investment funds. Nonetheless, impact investments in Ontario reached $2.579 billion in 2015 and is growing, with interest in the food and agriculture sector also on the rise. For details contact: Sally Miller, FFF project manager., phone 647-702-9179.