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Exploration of emerging models and possible solutions to improve access to funding for biofood social innovation initiatives

À propos

Through Fields of Investment for Tomorrow (FIT), we seek to collectively explore and create solutions to improve access to financing and the development of agri-food social innovation initiatives.

The project was created out of the realization that conventional forms of financing often have blind spots with respect to the specificities of agri-food social innovation projects and at certain stages of their development.

Objective

The main objective of the project is to better understand, track and demonstrate the impact and viability of innovative business models in agri-food. From 2021 to 2023, we will prioritize those related to physical food infrastructure supporting local food systems.

WHAT IS SOCIAL INNOVATION IN AGRI-FOOD?

“Social innovation in agri-food consists of a new idea, approach or intervention, a new service, a new product, or a new law, a new type of organization in the food ecosystem that promotes, more adequately and more sustainably than existing solutions, the establishment of a sustainable food system, a solution that has found traction within an institution, organization, or community, and which produces a measurable benefit for the community and not just for certain individuals.”

Source: Codefinition from Récolte (2019). Innovation sociale au menu (French only). p.28 and inspired by the Déclaration québécoise pour l’IS, RQIS, 2011

News

Stay tuned for important dates and developments through our latest news!

NOTE : Most of our news are published only in French.

BACKGROUND

Since 2017, initially through the creation of a "Slow Money" working committee, Récolte has been addressing financing issues specific to the agri-food sector in Quebec. The Slow Money Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to catalyzing the flow of capital to local food systems, connecting investors to the places where they live, and promoting new principles of fiduciary responsibility that "bring money down to earth."

Context

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of our food systems, while demonstrating the ability and need for local small businesses to work collaboratively and create socially innovative solutions to the challenges at hand. 

Faced with increasing consumer demand for local products, Quebec agri-food companies, both large and small, have experienced logistical challenges.

Agri-food companies logistical challenges

inventory management
management systems
transportation

especially refrigerated

physical infrastructures

to local storage and primary processing capacity

labor shortages

in part due to restrictions on the entry of foreign labor

regulations

including physical distance

Lessons learned in recent years demonstrate the need to support the testing, implementation, and development of these innovative projects that not only build local capacity, but also ensure local autonomy in the face of future challenges and external shocks.

This project is part of our Nourish Innovation program. Through this program, Récolte's mission is to build, support and strengthen socially innovative agri-food initiatives. 

In accompanying these entrepreneurs, we have become aware of many of the challenges they face in setting up, starting and growing their businesses.

Much of the risk lies on their shoulders to define, test and develop their innovative business models that fall outside of available resources and frameworks that do not necessarily support ethical, sustainable and resilient food systems. We know that together we can create solutions to support the success of these impact entrepreneurs.

In 2020-2021, with the McConnell Foundation, Récolte conducted a major synthesis to identify the reality, needs and financial barriers of agri-food businesses in the pre-start-up and start-up phases. One of the needs identified during this work is access to appropriate financing.

Barriers

lack of access to information
difficulty in demonstrating the viability and impact of local food infrastructure in the Quebec context
difficulty for entrepreneurs to capture, measure and communicate the positive impacts of their project
This limits the capacity of donors and local decision makers to assess and therefore allocate the resources and funding needed to develop, implement, and sustain these business models.

Through our FIT project, the challenge that Récolte wishes to address is to better understand collectively:

  • the nuances of these new business models, tracking their goals to identify new trends and needs in agri-food entrepreneurship;
  • when and where they encounter obstacles and challenges;
  • how they identify and seize opportunities;
  • what this means for the collective changes that must occur to support these initiatives in the Quebec context.

Timeline

Working committee

We have assembled a diverse group of stakeholders and experts from the worlds of impact finance, philanthropy and the social economy to support our work on the FIT.

The initial working committee members will be announced shortly.

Contact us

You are an agent of change?
You are interested in the FIT? You are interested in collaborating with us?
Contact us with Manda Razafimahefa, program manager, Nourish Innovation at manda@recolte.ca

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