COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has partnered with a group of socially-motivated local investors who are making $500,000 available to launch a groundbreaking initiative: the OEFFA Investment Fund. The purpose of the fund is to promote sustainable agriculture in Ohio by making flexible and affordable capital available to OEFFA member farmers and farm-related businesses.
The traditional sources of farm and small business financing are often not receptive to small- and mid-sized sustainable and organic farmers and entrepreneurs who may lack personal capital, an equity base, sufficient credit, and the needed tools and training to convert farm production plans to the kinds of business plans that many financial institutions require. These challenges are compounded by the national trends of agricultural lending over the last few decades, and the turmoil in the financial industry more recently.
Despite the increasing demand for local, healthy food and the economic opportunities it creates, many business ideas are not pursued because of a lack of financing. By helping to mobilize additional sources of capital, OEFFA hopes to build the supply and availability of local, sustainably grown fresh food in Ohio, enhance farm and farm-related business viability, and encourage expansion of ecological agricultural practices.
"The OEFFA Investment Fund is the farmers' source for financing. The launch could not be more timely and appropriate as we search for and deploy new solutions for capitalizing a better food system," said OEFFA's Executive Director Carol Goland.
With an initial capitalization of up to $500,000 to fund the pilot of this project, additional funding is planned once the model is proven successful.
The OEFFA Investment Fund began accepting applications on Nov. 1, with the first funding decisions expected in January 2013. Additional information and application forms are available online at
"We expect most of the successful applications to be for business loans in the $5,000 to $50,000 range, but other structures such as equity and revenue-sharing agreements will be considered based on applicants' requests and individual circumstances. During the first year, the minimum funded amount will be $2,500 and the maximum will be $250,000," added Goland.
"As a potentially critical contribution to our mission, the OEFFA Investment Fund is also a new challenge for our organization. We hope to gradually expand our programming to include both financial management and other technical assistance, tapping into existing networks and resources as we build our capacity. In that regard, we express our thanks to the Dr. Thelma I. Schoonover Fund of The Columbus Foundation for support to help OEFFA initiate this endeavor," Goland continued.
The fund is only open to Ohio-based OEFFA members in good standing, who will be required to submit an application package, be a farm or a related business supporting the supply chain of agricultural products from farm to consumer, and commit to support sustainable agricultural practices throughout the life of the investment. Applications will be approved by the fund's investment committee based on its review of the information contained in the application.
For more information, go to http://www.oeffa.org/invest.php or contact Carol Goland at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.