Fund engaged community leaders and award recipients in determining awards
DETROIT, MICH. January 21, 2020—Five good food enterprises from across Michigan were awarded $250,000 in Catalytic Investment Awards from the Michigan Good Food Fund. The fund is a statewide initiative working to increase healthy food access and spark economic development and job creation in communities that need it most. Businesses hail from across the state including Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Detroit, and Grand Rapids.
This is the fourth round of Catalytic Investment Awards, which are designed to help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level, including preparing for financing. To date the Michigan Good Food Fund has provided a total of more than $1.1 million to 29 Michigan companies. Two businesses—Fresh Corner Café and Malamiah Juice Bar—are receiving a second Catalytic Investment Award to advance their projects.
“This award gave us the confidence and financial boost that we needed to take our business to a new level,” said Jermale Eddie, owner of Malamiah Juice Bar in Grand Rapids. “Frustrations and disappointments are part of being an entrepreneur, but the fund’s dedicated team’s guidance, knowledge and social capital have been next to none.”
The Michigan Good Food Fund was created in partnership by Capital Impact Partners, Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since its launch in June 2015, it has provided more than $13 million in financing and business assistance supporting more than 160 enterprises.
The fund used a new participatory process for this round of Catalytic Investment Awards wherein community stakeholders were engaged to select enterprises from the application pool, and selected businesses themselves worked together to determine the final award amount each business would receive.
Shabaka Gibson, Vice President of Battle Creek Unlimited and one of the awards’ reviewers, said, “The collaborative selection process showed how Michigan companies are serious about supporting not only each other, but the entire state-wide food ecosystem. We look forward to continuing to partner as we work to grow healthy food systems from farm to fork in our state.”
Of the $250,000 available in Catalytic Investment Awards, each business was guaranteed $10,000. Businesses presented their projects to the group composed of community leaders and fellow award recipients. They then had $40,000 to allocate across the awardees.
“We were thrilled to use a participatory award-giving process to ensure that the people who are most affected are the ones that are making the right decisions for their communities,” said Olivia Rebanal, spokesperson for the Michigan Good Food Fund. “These awards will help the entrepreneurs take their community-focused ideas to the next level.”
This round of Catalytic Investment Award winners includes:
Emma Hearth and Market, Benton Harbor: Emma Hearth and Market is a food truck and mobile farmers’ market serving wood-fired entrees and organic produce grown on its farm. Inspired by Italian street food and emphasizing Michigan-based biodiversity and perma-culture techniques, Emma’s Hearth and Market also sells traditionally made value-added products using ingredients from its farm.
Fresh Corner Cafe, Detroit: Fresh Corner Café works to transform traditional retail spaces such as corner stores, gas stations, and liquor stores into fresh food oases. With this award, it will start a new collaboration with Authority Health and Mi Plato, Mi Vida bringing fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy meals to gas stations in Southwest Detroit.
Malamiah Juice Bar, Grand Rapids: Downtown Grand Rapids-based Malamiah Juice Bar provides fresh, healthy juices based on principles of sustainability and community wellness. Malamiah is committed to creating nutritious products that provide various access points to increase healthy living. The business also designed its employment framework to provide young people with work-based mentoring and leadership development.
Northend Christian Community Development Corporation (CDC), Detroit: Founded in 2000, Northend Christian CDC contributes to the sustainability of Detroit’s North End historic community by supporting healthy lifestyles with diverse cultural, physical, social, and educational programs. It also runs an urban farm growing more than 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables and produces value-added products.
Sprout Urban Farms, Battle Creek: Sprout Urban Farms provides access to high quality, locally produced foods for all community residents and helps provide local farmers and producers a market for their goods. Sprout works with up to 50 local farmers and food producers in Battle Creek and across the state to deliver produce and locally produced goods via a weekly or bi-weekly subscription delivery service.
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