Capital Impact Partners and First 5 LA deploy $2 Million in Healthy Food Financing Focused on Families with Small Children
Innovative Microlending Program Supports Local Business Assistance Agencies Increasing Healthy Food Access in Los Angeles County
Arlington, VA/Los Angeles, CA (August 5, 2015) – Capital Impact Partners and First 5 LA today announced their newest effort to help bring healthier food offerings to kids throughout Los Angeles, Calif. Through Capital Impact’s California Freshworks Fund, the organizations have deployed $2 million in loan capital to seven local business assistance agencies that will oversee microlending to enterprises focused on increasing access to healthy food for families with small children. This represents the first simultaneous impact investment into a cohort of microlenders at the Countywide level to collectively address the issue of food deserts via microentrepreneurship.
“This microlending initiative is an excellent way to ensure that our financing efforts can deliver the most social impact,” said Scott Sporte, Chief Lending Officer at Capital Impact Partners. “Through our partnership with First 5 LA, we have identified local organizations who truly know Los Angeles and are best positioned to deliver this capital so it reaches those most in need.”
The Food Enterprise Microlending Intermediary (FEMI) program is designed to provide financing to intermediary microlenders who are connected to their communities and are capable of providing small bursts of capital to local healthy food entrepreneurs as a means of increasing the diversity of healthy food distribution and retail outlets. In particular, the program looks to support increased access to healthy foods for working-class families with small children ages 0–5. In addition to low-cost debt investments, the program delivers technical assistance to help entrepreneurs manage the loan process and better combat local food deserts.
“First 5 LA is excited to partner with the Capital Impact Partners and expand the FEMI program through its California FreshWorks Fund. The seven intermediaries chosen have the geographic diversity to serve all of Los Angeles County,” said Jessica Monge Coria, First 5 LA Program Officer. “By further supporting technical assistance for borrowers we also help ensure funds are successfully repaid and the goals of the project are successfully met. Families with young children throughout Los Angeles County will have increased access to healthy foods in their local neighborhoods as a result of this partnership.”
The awardees include:
AmPac Community Development Corporation
Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN)
Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE)
Valley Economic Development Corporation
Vermont Slauson Community Development Corporation
West Angeles Community Development Corporation
As part of the investment cohort, each microlending intermediary will set their own guidelines and products for financing. Generally, loan amounts range from $500 to $250,000 and can be used for a number of needs such as renovation, equipment, inventory, working capital, and start-up expenses.
Examples of projects supported by this program include community markets; meat and/or fish stores; corner or discount stores; take-out restaurants; street vendors; mobile markets; farmers bringing goods to market; value-added processors; produce distributors, food vending machines; CSA networks; and other innovative forms of distribution or retail that focus on healthy food sales.
Local economic development firm Emerging Markets, Inc. will assist with program outreach, applicant referrals, and managing technical assistance resources for food entrepreneurs. Emerging Markets has assisted the California FreshWorks Fund since its launch in 2011 to deploy over $50 million in healthy food financing transactions statewide.
The California Freshworks Fund continues to lend to larger enterprises, such as grocery stores and other retailers operating in California’s food deserts. For more information about the Fund, please contact Emerging Markets, Inc. or visit www.cafreshworks.com.
About Capital Impact Partners: Capital Impact Partners transforms underserved communities into strong, vibrant places of opportunity for people at every stage of life. We deliver strategic financing, incubate new social programs, and provide capacity-building to help ensure that low-to-moderate-income individuals have access to quality health care and education, healthy foods, affordable housing, and the ability to age with dignity. A nonprofit community development financial institution, Capital Impact Partners has disbursed more than $2 billion to revitalize communities over the last 30 years. Headquartered in Arlington, Va., Capital Impact Partners operates nationally, with local offices in Detroit, Mich., and Oakland, Calif. Learn more at www.capitalimpact.org.