The first Local Investing Opportunities Network (LION) was started in Port Townsend, Washington in 2006, as a way to create connections between investors and local enterprises needing capital. Its members have collectively invested more than US$7 million in local businesses. The Economic Development Council of Jefferson County reviews opportunities submitted by local entrepreneurs, and circulates them to the group. Interested investors then meet with the entrepreneur and individually negotiate the terms. Often, the decision to support a business through a LION is based not just on a solid business plan and product, but also on trust and friendship that comes from years of living as neighbors. Today, LIONs exist throughout the USA. Read the story of the Port Townsend LION here, and learn more about the concept on this site.
When woodworker Chris Holmgren learned that 3.8 billion board feet of usable wood is cut down and discarded annually in the US – equal to 1/3 of the country’s hardwood timber harvest – he knew he had to take action. He expanded his woodworking business, Seneca Creek Joinery, into a fully vertically-integrated, replicable, community-scale production facility that handles all aspects of wood processing, from dead tree removal to finished furniture. At his farm 25 miles northwest of Washington, DC, he works with the nearby city of Rockville and local tree removal companies to ensure that no local wood goes to waste. Read more about his business in our Medium article.
The Brixton Pound, or “B£,” is a local currency in Brixton, London (UK), designed to circulate alongside the ordinary British pound. The Brixton Pound supports local, independent businesses by circulating only in the Brixton area, encouraging people to shop locally – thereby reducing carbon emissions from long-distance transportation of goods, maintaining the diversity of Brixton’s shops, and building a resilient economy that protects local livelihoods. To learn more, visit The Brixton Pound’s website.
The Carrot Project works with family farms that use sustainable growing methods, as well as food businesses that sell their products locally and regionally — the kinds of endeavors that often have trouble finding startup capital and securing loans from conventional banks. They help these farmers and businesses to understand their financial picture, and, when appropriate, work with agricultural land trusts and others to apply for and manage financial capital. To learn more, visit The Carrot Project’s website. Photo by Nick Harris (CC BY-ND 2.0)
The Catalan Integral Cooperative is a financial co-op, a food pantry, a legal-aid desk, an open-source tool workshop, a local currency (the “eco”) and a bed-and-breakfast for tourists in a medieval watchtower, all rolled into one. Its goal was to facilitate the creation of an entire ecosystem of alternative “post-capitalist” economic projects in Catalonia, to replace the dominant system. Read the P2P Foundation’s full report and summary of the cooperative’s structure and activities to learn more.
Born out of a weekly market in Colombo, Sri Lanka that features dozens of sustainable and ethically made food and goods, the Good Market now has an online platform connecting people with nearly 1,000 small businesses vetted for socially and environmentally responsible practices. Mostly based in Sri Lanka, the organizations range from fisheries to spices, solar energy to mindful tourism, nonprofit counseling to packaging materials. The Good Market site features social media elements to encourage dialogue between businesses and customers. Explore the site and meet the member businesses here.
The Real Food Store is the first community-owned grocery store in Exeter, UK – but it’s so much more than your average grocery: it’s a vibrant hub reconnecting local consumers with local producers, and reweaving the fabric of local interdependence severed in the process of globalization. To learn more, visit The Real Food Store’s website.
In 1965, a group of 200 Tokyo women – tired of getting low-quality milk at unaffordable prices from the large milk companies that dominated the dairy market – banded together to create a collective purchasing club. From this humble beginning, the Seikatsu Club has grown into a federation of 32 cooperatives with nearly 350,000 members (over 90% of them women). Despite its size, the Seikatsu Club has maintained a decentralized structure to facilitate human-scale, face-to-face interaction between members and producers. To learn more, visit the Seikatsu website, or read AsiaDHRRA’s profile of their work.
Totally Locally helps towns around the world support their local businesses and create thriving local economies by offering a simple toolkit, full of fun promotional materials, all designed to spread the message: shopping local really does make a difference. Read more about Totally Locally in this Medium article.
Tosepan is a network of cooperatives with 35,000 members in Puebla, Mexico, dedicated to constructing a holistic, sustainable, locally- and democratically-controlled economy rooted in the indigenous culture and knowledge of the Sierra Norte. Tosepan is comprised of three civil associations and eight cooperatives, which together cover basic needs including organic ecological farming, natural building, local healthcare, decentralized renewable energy, and local finance. They also actively oppose globalization, and have successfully resisted corporate development projects including a planned Walmart. Read more about Tosepan in our article on Medium.