The boxes are getting bigger

Starvation Alley Farms is located on the small coastal town of Long Beach, Washington. It was one of the first funding campaigns on our lending platform. The leaders at Starvation Alley are cranberry farmers and business people, plus they have their eyes on the prize of influencing the food system. To do that, Starvation Alley completed a three year process of certifying the first organic cranberries in Washington State. Since then, they have recruited several other farmers to follow their lead.

Transitioning to organic can be an expensive process, and Starvation Alley knew they needed to beef up their business model to pay for it. They thought that juicing the berries and selling the raw, unsweetened juice to bars and restaurants would increase the per pound value of those newly organic berries. Not only would they make more per pound, they could also freeze the berries after harvesting them and then make sales year round to create a more stable revenue stream.

The lowest end industrial juicer they could find was $12,000, and since they liked the concept of seeking the needed capital from their community, they took a chance and raised $12,100 from over 100 people in the form of small generous 0% interest loans. They bought the juicer. That was three years ago.

That small juicer is the manifestation of what a little moment of possibility can turn into when it has a community of supports behind it. Following Starvation Alley’s example, four more businesses in Long Beach ran Community Sourced Capital campaigns. Now there are hundreds of community lenders who have deployed over $90,000 into their small town: an independent hotel has installed solar energy (twice), a bakery purchased a stove, a industrial designer manufactured a new product line, and another hotel opened its doors just down the road. Big changes made bigger by the people who see possibility.

A few weeks after Starvation Alley paid off its first community loan, it took out another loan for a bigger and better juicer. They raised over $30,000 to buy this one. This new juicer makes it possible for them to open a channel for other farmers in the area to make the transition to organic by selling their berries to Starvation Alley for juicing.


One little juicer changed the entire landscape of farming and small businesses in Long Beach. The spirit, commitment and action of the people in this small coastal town has helped create a world of possibility for small businesses and farmers everywhere.

The community kind of impact investing

Ever since JP Morgan Chase started talking about Impact Investing as a “new” asset class in 2010, it’s been a topic of discussion amongst elite investors in the know.

Impact investing is described in Investopedia as an investment that “actively seeks to make a positive impact.” Today, many of us are invested in mutual funds and we’re taught to look for the most money we can make on our investments in the shortest period of time, regardless of what we’re actually investing in. The focus here is on dollar impact, not social impact.

I can remember way back when my grandfather talked to me about investing. He was born at the beginning of the 20th century and believed in investing in companies that did things he liked. He was an engineer and he relished having shares in 3M which was, at the time, probably the most innovative company going! I miss his excitement about the places he invested. And even though 3M may not fit in today’s standards of social or environmental impact investing, it sure was making an impact on innovation back then, and this was an impact that my grandfather admired and sought out with his investment.
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Give trust a chance

We live in an era of possibility. Everyday new leaders and companies are rewriting long-standing rules to create value and unlock promise. These new leaders realize that many times the very norms and rules meant to protect us from risk end up blocking us from true potential. If you have a credit score below a certain number, you cannot take out a loan. If you’ve had a criminal record, you can’t get certain jobs.

We live in an era of possibility. Everyday new leaders and companies are rewriting long-standing rules to create value and unlock promise. These new leaders realize that many times the very norms and rules meant to protect us from risk end up blocking us from true potential. If you have a credit score below a certain number, you cannot take out a loan. If you’ve had a criminal record, you can’t get certain jobs.

What if we could suspend those rules? What kinds of opportunities would emerge? A beautiful thing can happen when people rely on trust and connections. Infinite possibilities are allowed to emerge. At the community level, where personal connections, history, relationships, and human emotion flourishes, there is less need for so many rules.
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Wendell Berry Quote

“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” ― Wendell Berry

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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