New Seasons Market offering loan program for underrepresented food entrepreneurs
New Seasons Market, a Portland, Ore.-based grocer that operates 21 stores across Oregon, Washington and Northern California, has introduced a microloan program to support a diverse regional food economy through low-interest jump-start loans and business mentorship.
The retailer said its New Seasons Partner Fund will prioritize underrepresented food entrepreneurs who historically face barriers to capital, such as small independent businesses owned by women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQIA and social mission-based companies.
“The New Seasons Partner Fund was inspired by our staff and partners who have been coming together in the spirit of building community through good food to support local producers with prepayments, donations and mentorship,” said Chris Tjersland, New Seasons Market’s director of brand development. “Creating a formal loan program helps entrepreneurs grow their business while furthering our commitment to support and empower a diverse regional food economy.”
The structure and objective of the program is innovative: use a portion of sales of the retailer's New Seasons Partner Brand private brand products to provide loans to other small companies so they can grow to become private brand suppliers, thus ensuring a pipeline of suppliers to the company's unique program of working with small suppliers and being transparent about its identity.
The New Seasons Partner Fund is available for independent food producers who have been in business a minimum of two years, with fewer than 25 employees, and are seeking financing to fund new business growth such as purchasing equipment to expand production, introduce a new product to market or develop marketing materials. Loans start at $5,000 to $25,000 and are routinely granted four times each year.
In addition to capital, loans come with several business support and mentorship options to ensure loan recipients are set up for long-term growth and success, according to the retailer.
To learn more about the New Seasons Partner Fund, click here.