NORTHERN ONTARIO — May 17, 2023: A purpose-first finance fund for Ontario’s local food and farm sector has invested over $900,000 into agri-food projects across Northern Ontario.
The Fair Finance Fund is an alternative lending and investing model that aims to strengthen the region’s economic growth while bringing social and environmental benefits into Northern communities. The Fund provides equitable and accessible capital in the form of loans to local food and farm entrepreneurs by attracting investment from individual and institutional investors who value local systems.
The Fund has supported diverse clients across the Northern food value chain. The Fund recognizes the importance of supporting values-based and place-based food systems, from agriculture and fisheries to wild harvest, local markets and processors. The Fund aligns its investments to address the challenges facing the food system, such as food security and supply chain issues, while also driving social, economic, and environmental benefits.
Investments in Northern Ontario have facilitated over 2.16 million in local food sales, supported over 25 local suppliers in purchases, and created or maintained over 60 jobs. The investments have catalyzed various social and environmental benefits, including improved food security in Indigenous communities, reduced carbon footprints through sustainable fishing, and land and water sustained through regenerative practices.
“Alternative lending, like the Fair Finance Fund, addresses the unique needs of small to medium-sized agri-food businesses in Northern Ontario. This fosters a more resilient local food system while driving economic growth and job creation in our communities,” said David Thompson, director of the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN).
Agriculture plays a significant role in northern economies, and capital remains the most significant challenge among small to medium-sized food and farm businesses. With greater access to funding and capital through programs better tailored to northern conditions, there is the potential to strengthen northern businesses and drive even greater growth and development for the sector.
“We have had a difficult time securing funding for expansion projects in the past, as most big lenders aren't geared towards small farms. Gaining access to funding through FFF has enabled us to invest in our business expansion so we can continue growing for our community,” says Pitch Creek Farm in Thunder Bay, Ont.
The recent Thunder Bay & Area Food Strategy Community Report Card shows that significant food security and supply chain challenges create unrealized opportunities for local production and processing, culturally appropriate Indigenous foodways, and foraged and freshwater foods.
The Fund aims to attract new community-minded individual and institutional investment to continue to strengthen and increase the impact on growing Northern Ontario’s agri-food sector.
To read their latest Impact Report: Nourishing Northern Communities, and to learn how to invest, visit www.fairfinancefund.org.
About Fair Finance Fund: The Fair Finance Fund is a non-profit social finance fund dedicated to providing loans and mentorship services to local food and farm enterprises that value strong local food systems, local economies, and a healthy planet. Since 2019, the Fair Finance Fund has built on seed capital to implement an ongoing investment opportunity for community-minded investors. To date, the Fund has disbursed over $2.5 million in loans to local agri-food enterprises across Ontario.