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Asheville funding kit v 1.1

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The evolving concept of the Merchant Bank of Asheville

The evolving concept of the Merchant Bank of Asheville

Published in: Economy & Finance

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  • 1. Asheville community funding kit 1.1 How to fund good things in an arid capital climate, Zeriscape Financing; natural water flow
  • 2. It has four parts A lending club, A pooled donor advised fun A giving circle A kids community savings bond
  • 3. A lending club  For deals that don’t make sense to do as convertible debt, heading to venture equity.  For good deals, but things the community needs, with an emphasis on nature based businesses  It would adopt the Kiva Zip project, already in place in town; zero interest loans to micro businesses, like Kiva, in our town. Borrowers vetted by a local service agency.  Further democratization of funding in an arid capital environment.
  • 4. Donor advised fund pool  The DAF can do loans or equity (probably mostly loans) but the individuals make the loan a donation through a donor advised fund (we’d use Impact Assets) and get the deduction. Then the money is paid back or capital returned to the DAF and the group gets to invest again. Eventually, the money earned is given away at the group’s decision.  Not all members have to participate in every deal.
  • 5. Giving Circles  Groups that meet regularly and trust each other, from book clubs to Riverkeepers to Sunday School classes meet and one member gets to present a cause to give to each month. The sponsor of each cause keeps the group up on the progress of the group that got the donation. There is a software platform to support this dynamic that is functioning I would propose we would use to start.
  • 6. Following smart givers  In Asheville, the Power of the Purse group (women who put up $3k per year has become really smart in a collective intelligence way about where to give. They funded a social worker at ABTech, which has led to battered women graduating at around 80% in trades compared to under 25% because the social worker starts documenting instances that become a legal hedge around a woman trying to get her life back together. Ideally, the giving circles would pay attention to Power of the Purse;
  • 7. Influence on both poles  Just as the research people put into the specific businesses in their local context will be offered to people who want to follow them on KivaZip as it expands in Asheville, the Giving Circles will have an influential, collectively intelligent giving guide that has taken the time to think deeply about where to give in Power of the Purse (have not talked to them yet, but I doubt they will dislike having their impact leveraged into the community).  People who have taken the time to get smart, are connected to the crowd.
  • 8. Kids savings bonds  This is the only slightly original idea.  Kids save each week, say $1, take it to school and put it in a little manila envelope with a red button closed with a string.  Instead of saving $18 and getting a $25 savings bond at maturity, they invest in a local project, involving kids and/or their local community and environment (river keeper scouts, eg).  For first graders, it matures in 12 years, but they are involved in the project they invest in (river restoration in a poor neighborhood, eg.) during that 12 years.
  • 9. The package  Together the four elements offer a variety of ways for churches to get involved, from giving, to donating and then investing, to outright investing.  And they provide a way for kids to get involved and learn, and for the adults to learn from the kids; they would do due diligence, assisted by an adult on projects each year, as I see it, though ideally some projects would be 12 year timeline projects with enough variety to make them interesting.
  • 10. Network possibilities  This model would be replicable in a lot of towns, and I think might scale downward in Burnsville, with Juanita Brown of World Café fame leading the way. She wants to try and she’s great to work with.
  • 11. The backend  It might need a local CDFI or other community organization to help administer the package.  It would require a full time staffer, a Jane Hatley type, who would thrive in a more flexible atmosphere  Seven percent is what Kiva gets for tips; seven percent would be a good local operating budget for this package of DIY local merchant banking tools.