The quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” resonates with me, but what if we adapted that quote to read “Invest in the change you wish to see in the world?” What do you want to see more of in our community? Who or what could you invest in to make this change happen?
Your next thought might be, I don’t have that kind of money … well, please hold that thought! Let me quickly summarize the challenge that small business owners face when it comes to finding the money they need to “be the change.”
In 2015, the National Small Business Association noted that 27 percent of small businesses were unable to access the capital they needed to fund the growth of their business. Traditional lenders reject 80% of small business loan applications. Closer to home, the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center (NHSBDC) shared that 45% of all the businesses they work with are looking for capital at any one time.
“Often these companies are not quite ready for conventional financing [through a bank], or need only a small amount of debt or equity leveraged by their own personal investment to start or grow the business,” said Nancy DuBosque from NHSBDC. “We see entrepreneurs struggle to financially ‘bootstrap’ their business at these early stages, or fail to grow in the absence of sources of flexible and smaller capital investments.”
Okay, now back to that thought, I don’t have enough money to invest. On one side of the equation is you -- wanting to support enterprises that are “making the change” -- and on the other side is the entrepreneur ready to make the change happen, if only they had the capital to launch or grow their effort. Enter crowdfunding, the practice of raising funds to support a project or business from a large number of people.
Perhaps you’ve heard of rewards-based crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo -- where individuals collectively give small amounts of money to support a business idea and, in return, receive a small gift. Now there are efforts to “localize” crowdfunding in the Monadnock Region -- allowing you to give just a small amount of your hard-earned dollars to make change happen.
The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock is one locally based crowdfunding platform that Monadnock Buy Local is helping to start. We want to use the power of crowdfunding to cultivate a stronger ecosystem of investors, service providers and local economy champions investing in a local, green and fair economy in the Monadnock Region. During its pilot phase, TLC Monadnock will launch campaigns that support enterprises based in Keene, Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Swanzey and Winchester. If successful, we’ll expand access to enterprises throughout the region.
TLC Monadnock is a collective effort of Southwest Region Planning Commission, New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, Monadnock Buy Local, Hannah Grimes Center, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce and Monadnock Economic Development Corporation.
Another crowdfunding opportunity, where you loan instead of give money to an enterprise, is Kiva. Kiva provides small business owners access to $10,000 loans with no interest or fees. Individuals provide interest-free loans of $25 or more to a business owner on Kiva. Individual loans are aggregated until the borrower’s full loan request is fulfilled. Over time, the business pays back the loan and the investor can decide to take their money out of Kiva or reinvest it into another business.
While Kiva works internationally, the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship in Keene is helping to connect local businesses to this opportunity. Hannah Grimes advises entrepreneurs interested in securing funding through Kiva and supports them through the application and fundraising process. To learn more about Kiva, contact Jake Nonweiler at Hannah Grimes at 603-352-5063 or email@example.com or visit kiva.org.
"Given the often tricky financing climate in New Hampshire, especially for beginning entrepreneurs, the Hannah Grimes Center is thrilled to be working with Kiva to offer 0% crowdfunded loans up to $10K and with Monadnock Buy Local to support the launch of The Local Crowd Monadnock in our region,” shared Jake Nonweiler from Hannah Grimes Center. “The opportunity we have to shift the financing opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Monadnock Region is promising, exciting and inspirational."
Stay connected to local crowdfunding efforts in the Monadnock Region at monadnocklocal.org/crowdfunding. Help us all be the change.