I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Stronger, Greener Market for America
It's not every day that we hear about a financial service that is actually making positive impact by changing financial transactions that are complex, opaque, and anonymous into those that are direct, transparent, and personal. RSF Social Finance (RSF) is doing exactly this. RSF is a pioneering not-for-profit financial services organisation dedicated to transforming the way the world works with money. Its financial products not only meet the constantly shifting needs of the market, it also offers investing, lending, and giving services to individuals, and enterprises committed to improving society.
RSF provides capital to non-profit and for-profit social enterprises addressing key issues in the areas of "Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship," which is why it has recently created a new business relationship with the Organic Trade Association (OTA), a membership-based business association that focuses on the organic business community in North America. This is a great collaboration of two organisations with similar social and environmental values that are in synch together; both are getting people to think and act differently; helping to catalyse change.
OTA is the largest, recognised voice for the U.S. organic industry, representing over 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. People are now waking up to the benefits of organic food, not just because it may be better for them to eat, but also for the healing benefit it brings to farmers and the environment. However, only just more than four per cent of all sales of food and beverage products in the U.S. are certified organic; less than one per cent of all land used for crops and livestock in the U.S. is certified organic. Therefore, OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, public and the economy. The Association also helps more growers go organic by providing knowledge and resources and by advocating for assistance for transition farmers.
RSF is located in San Francisco and has been going since 1984. Since then it has made over $275 million in loans and $100 million in grants to non-profit and for-profit social enterprises. RSF's lending capital comes primarily from 1,200 individuals who have invested $1,000 or more in the organisation's Social Investment Fund. Scott Hackenberg, Lending Manager at RSF, says "OTA's advocacy work, public policy activities and educational programs, along with its staff and members are addressing some of the world's most pressing social, economic and environmental issues. RSF's focus on food and agriculture is perfectly aligned with and further defined by the mission of the Organic Trade Association."
Now, with the organic market worth $62.9 billion worldwide and producers straddling 162 countries, there has never been a greater need for a common understanding on organic food and farming, which is why this business relationship between RSF and OTA is important. It will help to create a stronger, greener market for the American economy.
Photo Credit: Organic Trade Association