The Slow Money SLO network, founded in July 2012, connects local, small food and farm enterprises in need of support to individuals interested in providing financial and business development support. The nonprofit also provides support, helps develop business plans and coaches the businesses. It is part of the Slow Money national movement, based in Boulder, Colo.
“The hope is that the business survives with our continued coaching and that it does well and pays back (the loans) and eventually doesn’t need our help for finances,” said Jeff Wade, founder and director of Slow Money SLO. “We’re looking for sustainable growth.”
SLO Natural Foods Co-op, a membership-owned grocery store that features local goods, borrowed $87,000 from lenders organized through Slow Money SLO. It made its last payment to Slow Money SLO lenders Dec. 1.
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The loans enabled the grocery store to move to its current location at 2494 Victoria Ave. in San Luis Obispo in June 2013. The store’s retail floor space increased from 750 square feet to about 3,000 square feet. Six staff members have been hired since the move; the store now employs 14 people. The store has increased local suppliers from 20 to more than 80, and it has installed a new POS system, among other improvements.
“The loans started it, it started the ball and gave us the opportunity to expand,” said Gwen Schmidt, general manager of SLO Natural Foods Co-op.
Schmidt said the store has experienced an 81 percent increase in sales from the second quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of 2015. She added that profits have increased, as well, although she did not provide a percentage.
Slow Money SLO has financially assisted 13 local businesses by organizing more than $550,000 of loans, as well as providing guidance and support to many more. Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates, Reef Points Hard Cider, Baba Small Batch and Native Herbs and Honey Co. are among the businesses the nonprofit is assisting.
Danielle Ames: 805-781-7902