The Food & Finance report presents the findings of research into how small-scale food businesses and community food enterprises have secured funding to support their work. It also presents a summary of interviews with representatives from a range of lenders and funding organisations, and their views on challenges particular to the small-scale food sector.
The Food & Finance report presents the findings of research into how small-scale food businesses and community food enterprises have secured funding to support their work.
It also presents a summary of interviews with representatives from a range of lenders and funding organisations, and their views on challenges particular to the small-scale food sector.
Our research shows that small-scale food enterprises have so far often been partly or heavily dependent on grant funding, from a range of government and charitable sources. But a shrinking pot of grant money, and growing political antipathy to provision of money by government, means that a looming ‘funding gap’ is forcing these organisations to think more creatively about the way they fund themselves, and how they can reach a situation where they are operating on a more financially viable basis. This raises many questions for community food enterprises in terms of the future source of money for start-up finance, capital equipment, and investment to grow. This is especially challenging for social enterprises, co-operatives and small-scale food businesses seeking to address social and environmental issues through food.
Due to low or slow profitability, and few assets against which to secure loans, such enterprises may be ill-suited to loans from mainstream commercial banks. Progressive lending and community finance, and continuation of grant funding, are therefore important considerations.
The key findings of our research were as follows:
This report forms part of a wider research project on Sustainable Food Finance, commissioned by Sustain in 2012, aiming to make recommendations for how small-scale food enterprises, and funders, should develop their work to support the vitality of the community food sector.
The report was developed and published as part of the Big Lottery Making Local Food Work programme.
How we undertook the research
Sources of finance
Views from the finance community
The case studies
Appendix 1: Table of case studies by turnover and method of finance
Appendix 2: Useful sources of information
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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.