The presidential campaign is upon us and for the next 17 months our mailboxes, our computers and our television screens will be crammed with requests from candidates and supporters making promises and asking for money. One presidential hopeful recently said that “running for office is simple. You just surgically disconnect your shame sensor. You then spend every day asking people for money. You walk up and say, ‘How are you doing, Ms.? Can I have money? Great to see you, lovely shirt sir, please give me money.” You can only hope that your donation will make a difference and coincide with improving the quality of your life and your community.
But what if there was a way for your hard earned money to be targeted to helping a small business that you love and watch it grow stronger in your community AND you would even be able to get your money back? Sound too good to be true? Well, there actually is a path to this. The Washington State Department of Commerce and Seattle based Community Sourced Capital have just launched Fund Local, a campaign aimed at bringing zero-interest crowd-sourced loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses in all of Washington’s 39 counties. Fund Local provides an opportunity for established Washington businesses to borrow up to $50,000 to expand and grow with a loan raised directly through their community. Members of the community, family and friends who want to support their local businesses lend in $50 increments called “Squares.” The participating businesses pitch their campaign to their community over a 30-day period and once funded, pay the loan back to “Squareholders” within three years. (before you say to yourself, NO INTEREST??? What a deal!!!, please note there is a monthly administrative fee but still a great deal for small businesses.)
Access to capital has always been a problem for small businesses needing microloans to grow and expand their business. Building on the success of Kickstarter and the lending models of Kiva and numerous others, Fund Local is an exciting, fun and innovative new idea for local investment in your community. Fund Local is a strategy that builds community strength from within and allows the community to support the local businesses they love. The campaign will run through December 2015 and we are actively looking for businesses that would like to participate. There are 5 campaigns running today. Check out some of the current campaigns taking place and the businesses that have already been supported in 2015.
Local, community crowdsourced funding is an exciting new idea and this groundbreaking partnership between the Department of Commerce and Community Sourced Capital is the first of its kind in the nation. Washington State understands that entrepreneurs and small businesses drive the local economy. It is why our economic development strategies include supporting campaigns that encourage the community to “buy local, eat local and now Fund Local” campaigns. It is a campaign that you can really feel good about and get a return on your investment by knowing you are helping your community grow.
If you are interested in knowing more about the Fund Local campaign click here or contact Maury Forman or your Washington State county economic development organization.