£1.34m fund to support community food and farming businesses

A new £1.34 million programme is offering community food and farming businesses a mix of affordable loans and grants, side by side with support to get investment ready.

The Real Farming Trust set up the new Loans for Enlightened Agriculture Programme (LEAP) with help from Power to Change, the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.

“We understand the challenges that food and farming enterprises face in raising finance, whether that is waiting for a grant to come through or having the funds to grow and develop when you have no assets to secure against.” said Robert Fraser from the Real Farming Trust. “LEAP will provide a critical next step for community based agroecological enterprises that have relied on grant funding to date and who have had nowhere to go to finance their onward development.”

Interested communities can apply for 5 year unsecured loans between £25,000 and £100,000, and a grant worth 18% of the loan amount. The capital for the loan fund has been provided by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the A Team Foundation and the Centre For Innovation In Voluntary Action (CIVA). Mentoring support, funded by Power to Change, will be provided to help successful groups develop their business plans.

“We’re looking to work with community businesses who understand the needs of local people and have already built up their local community of support, but are not yet investment ready.” said Jenny Sansom, Programme Manager at Power to Change. “Getting a loan can seem daunting but can really help your organisation develop to the next stage. We’ve funded the Real Farming Trust to run a mentoring programme, which can support your group through that.”

The programme is currently open for applications. Find out more http://www.feanetwork.org/our-projects/loans-for-enlightened-agriculture-programme