Prior to enrolling in the Bard MBA in Sustainability, I founded and led a shop-local program in Durham, NC and worked with Slow Money NC, a small non-profit organization that leads a peer-to-peer lending network to finance North Carolina’s local food system. These experiences, along with coming of age during a recession, led me to develop an interest in economic democratization. I saw firsthand how difficult it is for people to obtain the necessary capital to start and expand their businesses.
In short, I was witnessing the consequence of one of Thomas Piketty’s primary observations in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century: economic inequality grows when the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of the overall economy. This reduces the incentive for the holders of that capital to distribute it and, thus, makes it harder for those without capital to obtain it. Given that our economic system functions thusly, I began to explore how these limits could be circumvented.
One such method is to work outside traditional capital markets entirely, via community financing. While community financing can take several forms, I have chosen to focus on opportunities for equity investments via community-owned businesses.Continue reading →