Montpelier, VT – Several Vermont new economy industry leaders joined food entrepreneurs in Boulder, Colorado on April 29th and 30th at the 4th Slow Money National Gathering. The conference buzzing with innovators in agriculture, investing, and philanthropy sparked national social media interest as one of Twitter’s ‘trending topics’ during the two days committed to rebuilding local food systems around the country.
The Entrepreneur Showcase, a conference highlight, featured two dozen food entrepreneurs from across the United States to garner alternative investment fund management advice from an expert panel, which included two Vermonters. Janice St. Onge, president of the VSJF Flexible Capital Fund, L3C and Eric Becker, chief investment officer of Clean Yield Asset Management, both Slow Money founding members, were selected as advising commentators by the Slow Money Network for the quality of their vision and their business acumen to present investment opportunities.
Inspired by the vision of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing As If Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered, published in 2009, the Slow Money Alliance is bringing people together around a new conversation about money that is too fast, finance that is disconnected from people and place, and how to begin fixing the economy from the ground up...starting with food. Over 36 states and several foreign countries have attended Slow Money gatherings. More than $24 million has been invested by Slow Money funders to some 200 small food enterprises. Investment clubs and state chapters are popping up across the country.
The VSJF Flexible Capital Fund, L3C is a mission-based investment fund providing ‘equity-like’ financing in the form of royalty loans and subordinated debt to targeted Vermont growth companies in value-added agriculture, forest products, renewable energy, and waste management. As president of the Flex Fund, Janice St. Onge is also deputy director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. She serves on the board of the Vermont Investors Forum and is the co-founder of the Stowe Energy and Climate Action Network. She resides in Stowe with her family.
Clean Yield Asset Management is an SEC-registered investment advisory firm working exclusively with social investors to invest to promote a sustainable society while achieving competitive financial returns. Chief investment officer Eric Becker, CFA founded Slow Money Boston in 2010 and is a founding board member of The Carrot Project, a sustainable agriculture finance organization. He resides in Strafford.
Slow Money may not be a trending Twitter topic daily, but discussions of Vermont’s new economy and local food certainly are daily topics discussed in multiple media channels across the state. While Slow Money does not have an official chapter in Vermont, as principles have been widely embedded in agricultural economic impacts, St. Onge and Becker are opening discussions to start a chapter. To enter the conversation, engage with the Flex Fund on Facebook: www.facebook.com/FlexFund.