Summer is upon us with its BBQs, picnics with friends, corn shucking and delicious summer produce. As much as this season is a favourite of many (myself included), it comes with its own set of challenges for vegetable gardeners.
I was chatting with a friend who has a small plot of land to grow vegetables. Knowing that she had spent most of the previous months preparing for harvest time, I was convinced that she would be relieved to finally get it done. I realized that her concerns were far from over ...
Inflation, the difficulty of finding labour with the increase in the minimum wage, and the arduous process of finding an adequate subsidy for her situation to finance herself were all additional problems she had to face! Not to mention the rising cost of fuel adding to the long list of headaches. What about you, dear reader, have you ever experienced a similar situation? I'd love to read from you and hear about the challenges you've faced.
Listening to my friend talk about her difficulties filled me with a mixture of compassion and fear. Was there really nothing I could do to help her with her situation? I couldn't bring myself to do it, so I decided to take action and look for resources that could help my friend; sometimes two brains are better than one when it comes to finding alternative financing solutions!
I figured that if my research could be useful to her, it would surely be useful to others. So here is the gist of what I found!
SOCIO-FINANCING AND ALTERNATIVE FINANCING
When it comes to crowdfunding, it's all about public participation to raise the funds. Socio-financing platforms, therefore, require a bit more commitment, sharing of the fundraising campaign and word of mouth if the goal is to be reached. The other proposed alternative funding options are more about investment, a more direct way to receive funding.
With a reputation that is already well established, I wouldn't be surprised, dear reader, if you have already heard of this non-profit organization. La Ruche's mission is to promote the emergence of stimulating projects for the economy, influence and vitality of the 10 regions (soon to be 17) in which it operates in Quebec. Its local participatory financing platform and its many partners make it an interesting option for publicizing new or old projects and getting them financed.
La Ruche offers :
- Support in participatory financing from its regional directors and project specialists
- Access to a diversified network of ambassadors made up of well-known personalities who want to contribute to the vitality of their region
Projects are easily accessible and can be carried out by any type of legally constituted organization (cooperative, for-profit business, NPO, registered charity, institution), by a self-employed person or simply as an individual project.
All types of projects can be accepted as long as they leave a social, economic or cultural footprint in the regions where La Ruche is active (see all regions). Under certain additional funding programs, La Ruche can exceptionally put eligible projects from all regions of Quebec online via La Ruche Labo.
In short, it's a reassuring option in the sense that you will never be left to your own devices! All the tools are there to guide you toward the most effective participatory financing campaign possible and optimize your chances of success. Suitable for beginners in the field, for those who want to introduce a new product/service or simply to revive an old one!
Ma Belle Terre (https://www.mabelleterre.org)
Active since 2020, I personally had never heard of this social funding platform before doing my research! I can confirm that I have found a beautiful little gem.
Ma Belle Terre offers the general public the opportunity to contribute to the realization of local and sustainable agricultural or food projects throughout Quebec. The promoter of the project must offer rewards, for example, an experience on a farm, a basket of vegetables, an exclusive product that will be produced with the funds raised during the campaign, etc. In addition to serving as a springboard for producers and farmers, Ma Belle Terre also acts as a meeting place for the community.
The platform mainly targets farmers who are just starting out and need a helping hand to get started or already established producers who want to test the market potential of a product or service for example.
The only conditions that a project must meet to be promoted on the platform are :
- Have a sustainable dimension
- Be from the Quebec territory
To ensure its operation and development, Ma Belle Terre charges a service fee of 7% of the total amount of the campaign. The transaction platform Stripe charges 2.9%. + 0.30$ per transaction. So, for example, for a $10,000 campaign, Ma Belle Terre collects $700, Stripe charges $290 (+ $0.30 per transaction) in transactional fees.
On Ma Belle Terre, a campaign has a maximum of 60 days to reach its fundraising goal and is considered valid when 70% of the goal is reached. Below 70%, the contributors will be reimbursed and no service fees will be charged to the project owner. So there is no financial pressure!
This is an ideal solution for producers to obtain alternative financing without going into debt!
I was not unfamiliar with goPeer, but I had never taken the time to really understand what it was all about. Based in Toronto, this 100% Canadian organization says it wants to improve financial opportunities for all Canadians. goPeer seeks to modernize the archaic credit system as we know it to connect Canadians looking for a loan with Canadians looking to invest.
Let's face it, unexpected expenses are a pain to deal with, especially when banks aren't quick enough to help us deal with them. By offering fast and affordable loans, goPeer wants to alleviate your worries and is committed to the financial health of its members.
The main advantage of goPeer is its accessibility to the general public. Indeed, there is no need to go through big financial institutions. The loans they offer also offer an attractive return and have a low correlation with other asset classes. It is possible to borrow up to $25,000 with a term of 3 to 5 years.
The criteria that must be met to qualify are:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- A credit rating superior to 600
- An annual income of more than $15,000
- Have a Canadian bank account or equivalent
- Be a Canadian resident for at least 3 years
Although the admission criteria are a little more numerous than the two previous options, it remains a solid solution adapted to your different needs that have already proven itself to the Canadian population for several years!
Farm Credit Canada/ Financement agricole canadien (FCC/FAC)
I have a feeling that a good majority of people in the field are familiar with this name. After all, they've helped nearly 100,000 clients so far!
So I won't go on and on about this one but will take the trouble to introduce it a bit for the less familiar. Designated as a financially self-sustaining federal commercial Crown corporation, FCC reports to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Much like Ma Belle Terre, FCC is the only lender that invests 100% in Canadian agriculture and food. Their complete devotion to this industry makes them a solid and expert option. They themselves say it: the customer and their needs are their top priority!
FCC offers :
- Accessible financing for different groups such as young farmers (under 40), women entrepreneurs, Aboriginal agriculture and food businesses, etc.
- Ideas, tips and resources to help you better manage your business
- Software designed for Canadian agriculture
To get an idea of your payment options and determine the loan amount and amortization period that's right for you, FCC offers a mortgage, equipment purchase and equipment lease calculator.
What I liked about FCC was the variety of financing offers specialized for different groups. Knowing that women made up about 26% (MAPAQ) of the agricultural population in 2016 and the Aboriginal population about 2.7% (Statistics Canada) in the same year, it is super important to have financing specifically for minority groups in the field.
Universal (U.S. included)
Yes, yes! I didn't necessarily think of GoFundMe as a platform that would be relevant for alternative financing either. However, after seeing a lot of projects related to agriculture and market gardening, I started to consider it more seriously!
Not a very complex concept: GoFundMe is a for-profit participatory funding platform allowing people to raise funds for events, occasions or goals of any kind. With no fees and no specific admission criteria, all you have to do is answer a few simple questions to start fundraising.
Several campaigns of agri-food and market garden nature have caught my attention, for example, the market garden project in Rimouski which raised $1570 out of its goal of $1500, the "Grow Tunnel for Urbavore" campaign which raised $3,180 out of its goal of $3,177 or the "Support La Ferme Urbaine Okoumé" campaign which raised $1,915 out of its goal of $1,750.
In addition to being a hyper-instinctive and easy-to-use platform, you will be accompanied by a team of security experts. In short, everything to help you keep peace of mind during the process!
Finally, you can always look at the grant options related to automation and technology by region as well as Orisha's blog on grants for greenhouse growers applicable in Quebec. Stay tuned for a future blog on the many grants and programs for your different needs!
To you, who took the time to read this blog, I hope that some of the information was helpful to you as it was to my friend. It would be great to hear your story and what you would like to read about in future blogs. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with us, we always love to hear from you!