Social Investment Fund: Borrower Highlight
Jan 5 2021
Despite the many implications COVID-19 has had across our country and around the world, our Social Investment Fund and the Social Enterprise Lending portfolio continue to remain healthy. Several of the organizations in our portfolio, particularly those working in the food and agricultural sectors, have even seen an increase in demand and a higher need for financing since the start of the pandemic. For those borrowers who have been harder hit by the impacts of COVID-19, RSF provided several forms of assistance, such as rapid-response grants, interest only periods, and payment holidays, made possible through our Crisis Response Fund and the 0.25% we redirected from investors to borrowers beginning in March.
When COVID-19 hit, The Common Market—an RSF borrower since 2010—recognized that their infrastructure built to move food from local farms to institutions could be leveraged to bring high-quality, local food to communities most impacted by the virus. When the USDA released its coronavirus food assistance program, The Common Market was quick to apply. Beginning in June, The Common Market secured two multi-million-dollar contracts through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program which enabled the organization to greatly expand their purchases from family farm partners, box the produce in diversified bundles, and deliver those boxes to nonprofits, food banks, and community centers across their regions of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
RSF approved an over-advance of up to $750,000 on The Common Market’s existing $750,000 line of credit to enable the organization to cover the cash flow of the large reimbursement-based contract. The opportunity was a lifeline for The Common Market and the farmers and communities they serve. The farmers, many of whom were threatened by lost markets during the crisis, were able to channel their produce to communities most impacted by the pandemic, particularly the elderly and communities of color. The Common Market’s story is an excellent example of why now, more than ever, it’s important to circulate money to uplift innovative, change-making social enterprises.