Fair Food Network is new administrative manager of the initiative as of 2021.
Ann Arbor, Mich.— Michigan Good Food Fund, a first-of-its-kind initiative launched in Michigan in 2015, has invested $17 million in loans and grants to Michigan-based food businesses in its first five years according to its recent five-year evaluation report. The initiative supports businesses from farm to fork working to increase healthy food access and create economic opportunities in communities that need it most. To date, Michigan Good Food Fund has supported more than 300 Michigan businesses with financing or business assistance, which in turn have created or retained more than 1,000 jobs in Michigan. Of those supported, 53% have been owned by people of color and 52% led by women. In addition, almost 80% support local sourcing, and 85% implemented at least one environmentally sustainable practice. More information about the initiative’s impact can be found in its evaluation report.
“Capital Impact Partners helped launch Michigan Good Food Fund as its inaugural administrative manager, leveraging our experience designing statewide healthy food financing initiatives,” said Olivia Rebanal, director of Inclusive Food Systems, Capital Impact Partners. “We’ve been honored to lead the work to deliver deep impact to food enterprises statewide, and we remain committed to continuing to work to build more inclusive food systems in Michigan and in other areas of the United States.”
Michigan Good Food Fund was developed by four founding partners: Capital Impact Partners, Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Initial funders, including The Kresge Foundation, Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, and Northern Trust Corporation also supported this innovative effort alongside federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative funding.
“Since the initiative’s inception, we’ve been committed to broadening our focus beyond grocery stores to bring holistic support to businesses across the food chain. From farms to product makers to restaurant owners, we’ve been able to open doors for entrepreneurs to join Michigan’s good food economy from farm to fork,” commented Jamie Rahrig, MPH, RDN, Michigan Good Food Fund specialist and innovation counselor, Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems.
As the initiative grew, a network of lenders came together to support financing at different sizes while ensuring statewide coverage. Lending partners include Detroit Development Fund, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), Lake Trust Credit Union, Michigan Women Forward, and Northern Initiatives. Working together, this collaboration of lenders can provide financing to good food enterprises ranging from $2,500 to $6 million. This year, Fair Food Fund, Fair Food Network’s impact investing arm, will become a lending partner bringing equity and near-equity capital products.
The pandemic has been a turbulent time for small businesses, especially those led by entrepreneurs of color. Between February and April 2020, 41% of Black businesses shuttered, compared to 17% of white businesses in the same time period, according to a national report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Michigan Good Food Fund has responded by intensifying the provision of financial services and personalized technical assistance to help businesses pivot in new directions, such as restaurants launching prepared meal kits or pop-up grocery stores and farmers shifting to more direct-to-consumer sales.
As the crisis continues, this initiative is even more critical in stabilizing food businesses, which are anchors of healthy food access and economic opportunity. Looking ahead, it will:
- Redouble its efforts in support of mission-led good food businesses with an increased focus on Black and Latinx-led enterprises.
- Deepen community engagement to ensure work is aligned with community-identified needs.
- Expand and diversify financial partners to broaden types of capital available.
- Utilize a cohort approach so entrepreneurs receive multiple rounds of coordinated technical assistance and capital by initiative partners to support their continued growth.
“From the beginning, racial and social equity has been a Michigan Good Food Fund priority,” said Dr. Marijata Daniel-Echols, W.K. Kellogg Foundation program officer. “As in so many other parts of our personal and professional lives, the need to intentionally and strategically invest in equity has never been clearer. All of our children, families, and communities are better when we support economic development and ensure equitable access to nutritious, affordable food and pathways to income and wealth through entrepreneurship.”
Since 2015, Capital Impact Partners has led administrative management of the Michigan Good Food Fund. This month, Fair Food Network transitions into this role, leading a growing number of partners across the state in working together to expand and deepen initiative impact in years to come.
“Michigan Good Food Fund is a powerful mechanism to advance health equity for communities across the state. Leading this next chapter, we will make strategic investments in communities that build employment, health, and racial equity – whether it’s growing more equitable access to food, jobs, ownership, or flexible investment capital,” commented Mark Watson, Managing Director of the Fair Food Fund at Fair Food Network.
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