The food system comprises a highly diverse range of activities that are central to building healthy, sustainable, resilient, economically thriving communities. Historically, the broader 'system' has not been well-defined in the context of development finance and this has limited its access to financing tools. This white paper is part of a series examining the potential creation of a food systems asset class which supports the market growth of local and regional food systems which meet the economic, social, environmental, and cultural needs of communities throughout the country. There is groundbreaking potential for development finance agencies at the state and local level to support food businesses and projects.
This paper focuses specifically on financing that provides access to capital, outlining this category of tools and demonstrating how they can be utilized for various types of food-related endeavors. This paper will notably focus on small businesses, micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs. For simplicity, these enterprises will generically be termed "small businesses" throughout this paper.