Australian Fair Food Forum

Alternative Financial Structures

These notes were taken from a group discussion session at the Food Sovereignty Convergence in Canberra 23rd November 2017.

  • Over the past 30 years there have been various intermediaries that represent alternative lending models like Foresters Community Finance, Mecus (?),Credit Unions.However these are still underwritten by the banks

  • The U.S. Calvert Fund has broken the mould in the field of “impact Investing”. Impact Investing refers to investments “made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside (or in lieu of) a financial return.”

  • Private Ancillary Funds are also another source of impact investing. Ancillary funds are special funds that provide a link between people who want to give (‘donors’) and organisations that can receive tax deductible donations as deductible gift recipients (DGRs). Ancillary funds are set up for the purpose of providing money, property or benefits to DGRs.

  • Like the discussion on what a Contemporary Commons might look like we were also looking at a gap between what we value (Human rights based commons) and what the bank values (food as a commodity which is market driven).

  • For the past 10 years the industrial charity complex has been bandaiding the externalities caused by our broken system. Philanthropic groups have wised up to this and have looked to business itself as a possible systemic solution to this. They are also wising up to the non-monetary returns of their investments.

  • Both Agriculture and urban development need land but the value created from that land is very different. Despite this, agriculture is subject to the same value exigencies as an urban residential block. Agricultural land cannot compete on the same level as the values that come out are of both a different kind and quantity.

  • Urban development, where money is made in subdividing and eventually selling the land,versus Agriculture which needs ongoing returns and could potentially employ value adding and stacking of activities

  • At the time it seems that one is diametrically opposed to the other but we also cited the work of Rachel Carey in Melbourne’s Foodprint in giving value to regions in and around Melbourne that provide its inhabitants with food.

  • It’s arguable that all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are impacted by Agriculture.

  • Financially, agricultural returns take time- at least 5 years to start resembling a return. The story is again different when we look at small-holder regenerative farms versus industrial agricultural production as a small-holding will have considerable social returns that a large agribusiness does not.

  • As yet the building of the human “social ecosystem” remains unfunded as its value is unrecognised or unquantifiable.

  • We spoke of stacking various enterprises on to a farm to make it more financially viable such as value adding activities or vertical integration.

  • Farming needs investment that appreciates its need for long term gains on many fronts.

  • Don Shaffer of RSF Finance : Social Entrepreneur

  • Regenterative Enterprise has an eBook that looks at the 8 forms of capital

  • B-corps : a certification for social enterprise

  • Deb also suggested crowd funding as another way to engage people socially as well as financially to support a project. There were some limitations to this as crowd funding is very project based and needs a clear end but farming is continuous.

  • Slow Money

  • “Six Capitals” by Jane Gleeson: Good entry level book for people who want to understand other forms of capital

  • Morris Foundation still important to do the research and form clear agreements even with philanthropic organisations as things can still go askew

  • Australian Environmental Grant Makers Network – educates philanthropists

  • Kate Raworth Doughnut Economics: Offers real possibilities of what can work. Very accessible and has a great blog.

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Crowd Harvests - in response to the dot point on Crowd Funding.
Developed as a diversification of the back yard food share community, I find that many discover an entry point to the fair food movement this way. Sending seeds to refugees at Christmas time creates a win/win. Gardeners feel their excess summer food seed is not being waster, and refugees get to start their own food gardens.
Please have a look and spread the news around: Facebook Event Crowd Harvest: Seeds for Christmas

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