Need a small business loan? Attend CSC’s Money on a Mission event!

Money on a Mission Event - get a small business loan
Money on a Mission Event – attend to explore small business loans

More often than not a small business owner needs the opportunity to do lots of things all at once – from managing people, community relations, and inventory management to payroll, social media and financial planning for future growth. That’s an awful lot and we’ve heard from the small businesses we work with that managing their business finances can be the most difficult part of running the business because it’s not where their heart and passion lies.
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Emerging solutions

As networks grow and transform into active, working communities of practice, we discover how life truly changes, which is through emergence…

As networks grow and transform into active, working communities of practice, we discover how life truly changes, which is through emergence … change begins as local actions spring up simultaneously in many different areas. If these changes remained disconnected, nothing happens beyond each locale. However, when they become connected, local actions can emerge as a powerful system.
-Margaret Wheatley

Announcing a partnership with B Corp

Maybe you’ve noticed the logo in the footer of our website or the thousands of emails our website sends to Squareholders every month. There’s a logo of a little “B” with a circle around it, and it stands for B Corp.

Shortly after we launched Community Sourced Capital, we started pursuing an endorsement that we believed would signal to the world our absolute commitment to using business as a catalyst for change. B Corp is a private certification assessing social and environmental performance of for-profit companies around the world. After a rigorous application and interview process, we received our certification a little over a year ago.

Using business as a catalyst for change is no small feat, and we aren’t trying to do it alone. That’s one of the reasons we’ve surrounded ourselves with the B Corp community — which includes legions of strong, committed small businesses as well as large entities like Patagonia, Beneficial State Bank, Etsy, King Arthur Flour, and very recently, Kickstarter!
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Connecting Capital to Meaning

I talk a lot about driving capital flows (money) toward the things people value most — community mostly, but also family, education, and love.

Much like Diane (in the video above), I talk a lot about driving capital flows (money) toward the things people value most — community mostly, but also family, education, and love. It’s a simple concept. But our world is currently set up to drive capital flows toward more money. Implicit in the system is that more money will bring us a world that is more valuable — it will bring us more of what we most value. But many people find that it doesn’t work that way once our basic needs for food, shelter and healthcare are met. Does making more money create more value? This is the experiment our world is currently running.

What if we didn’t measure our wealth in money? What if we measured wealth as the number of mountains we’ve climbed, the number of books we’ve read, or the depth of the friendships we have? What would we do with our money then?
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Amplifying the voice of community

The first loan we made at Community Sourced Capital was for $2,950. It involved 31 Squareholders lending on average $100 each. The loan itself was to an entrepreneur in our existing network who was willing to try out our new community finance system. We kept the amount low to keep things easy, and the loan was repaid pretty quickly.

We’ve made a lot of progress since then. We’re a bigger company with more capacity for handling larger loans. This month, we’re making our largest loan to date: $47,000.
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Partnering with places

Place is important to us. We think it could be important to financial systems, too. There was a time when the flows of money related to the place people actually lived. In fact, people still living now remember a time when there were dozens of local stock exchanges across the country, each supporting their own region. Our friend Amy Cortese at the New York Times wrote about that in a recent article.

So where did the “place” part of finance go? As financial markets grew, the rules governing them made it harder for local stock markets to exist. Then, technology made it easier for a global system to emerge. Year after year, our financial system found itself continually detaching itself from anything to do with a physical place.
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A community line of credit: when possibility meets potential

There’s something exciting going on with Community Sourced Capital. Two businesses which  found success getting a loan from their community are at it again. Last summer, the Adrift Hotel borrowed $18,450 to finance a solar hot water installation for their sustainable hotel in Long Beach, Washington. They took on the loan, executed the project, held a party for their Squareholders, and perhaps best of all, they paid back the loan on schedule.
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Marching Roanoke toward possibility

Unlike many southern towns whose centers have been consumed by suburban sprawl over the last few decades, Roanoke has been moving in the opposite direction — revitalizing downtown, investing in the arts, leveraging the incredible natural beauty and amenities, and encouraging and promoting local business like crazy. It’s all in the name of making a great community.

Unlike many southern towns whose centers have been consumed by suburban sprawl over the last few decades, Roanoke has been moving in the opposite direction — revitalizing downtown, investing in the arts, leveraging the incredible natural beauty and amenities, and encouraging and promoting local business like crazy. It’s all in the name of making a great community.

I remember the heart of downtown 25 years ago. It was a seedy, unwelcoming place at night. Now, it’s hoppin’ with local restaurants and shops, museums, music venues, art galleries, and the oldest continuously operating farmers market in VA (which just got a facelift).

10 years ago, there were fewer than a dozen people living downtown. Today, the downtown population is well over 2,000 thanks to the redevelopment of old buildings by progressive developers.

5 years ago, we had one farmers market. Now, we have 5 thanks to a growing grassroots commitment to caring about the origin of our food. That commitment extends to Roanoke’s natural beauty, which has always been here, but is now being rediscovered and leveraged by groups like Roanoke Outside. Events like the Blue Ridge Marathon endure one of the country’s toughest road races.

There are so many things that still need to be done to realize all of Roanoke’s potential. There’s a small ground swell of interest in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship requires an eco-system of mentors, investors, infrastructure, and peers. Newly opened places like the CoLab are creating synergistic gathering and co-working spaces combined with programming, in an attempt to stimulate and nurture entrepreneurship that endures in our valley.

Just like everything in life, good things happen when multiple stars align. Roanoke has always had the fundamentals in place to be a truly amazing small city: natural beauty and outdoor amenities, a friendly and welcoming culture and that quintessential easy southern lifestyle.

When preparation meets opportunity, it’s called luck. It takes innovative people to see possibility and prepare their community for it. But that’s just the beginning. The real joy of this work comes when a community realizes its potential and decides to march toward opportunity together–full steam ahead.

Local finance matters

When people put their money to work for a business they can visit in person, an opportunity to see the impact of money in your community is born. Money doesn’t have to be thousands of miles away in New York. It can be just down the road.

We just wrapped up a fantastic loan with The Food Shed, a local business bringing healthy and local food to their community in Kingston, Washington. But we’re thrilled that the campaign brought more than local food to their community. It also brought local finance.

In fact, more than 90% of their Squareholders live within 40 miles of the business. We think that’s a pretty cool statistic, and not just because it’s fun to look at a map of Squares and Squareholders!

Kitsap Food Shed from Kitsap Sun

When people put their money to work for a business they can visit in person, an opportunity to see the impact of your money in your community is born. Money doesn’t always have to be thousands of miles away in New York. It can be just down the road. (My apologies to anyone reading this in New York. I hope you know what I mean.)

So here comes the part about persistence. Even though study after study confirms that locally-owned businesses improve the quality of life for communities, the collective impact of those businesses is still bundled in a complex set of benefits that are sometimes hard to see. In fact, it took a financial crisis for many Americans to see just how much we had taken for granted all along.

The concept here is simple, and perhaps a little redundant: the value of local finance is in visualizing the connection between your money, the financial system, and the health of your community. There’s a dollar bill at one end of the system, a resilient economy at the other, and a whole lot of thriving small businesses in between.

The photo included in this post is of Pam Buitinvield, an owner of The Food Shed. The photo is from the Kitsap Sun’s article Homegrown Loan Helps Kingston Cafe to Grow featuring The Food Shed and Community Sourced Capital.