Slow Money – “One of the Top Five Trends in Finance for 2011”

First there was Slow Food, Slow Living, and now Slow Money. As reported in the press (Goodbye quick buck, hello slow money, Toronto Star, Sep. 22,2011):

“The idea comes out of the slow food movement, in which people stop and enjoy what they put in their mouths and respect how food is produced. In this version, instead of plowing savings into Bay St. or Wall St., people can invest in projects or farms they believe in. It could be small loans to help an organic dairy or to open a small butcher shop.”

Entrepreneur.com called the Slow Money movement one of the top five trends in finance for 2011.

The idea began with a book by an American small venture capitalist, Woody Tasch titled, Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money. It then grew into a non-profit with about 230 founding members. Now it has about 1,800 active members, and thousands more who have signed on to the philosophy. The organization has spawned food and farm projects in 12 American states funded by local investors. Read more about these “from the ground-up” projects at Local Groups

Principles of Slow Money

I think the principles of Slow Money are so profound, I’ve copied them here verbatim from SlowMoney.org:

In order to enhance food security, food safety and food access; improve nutrition and health; promote cultural, ecological and economic diversity; and accelerate the transition from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on preservation and restoration, we do hereby affirm the following Slow Money Principles:

I.               We must bring money back down to earth.

II.             There is such a thing as money that is too fast, companies that are too big, finance that is too complex. Therefore, we must slow our money down — not all of it, of course, but enough to matter.

III.           The 20th Century was the era of Buy Low/Sell High and Wealth Now/Philanthropy Later—what one venture capitalist called “the largest legal accumulation of wealth in history.” The 21st Century will be the era of nurture capital, built around principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place and non-violence.

IV.           We must learn to invest as if food, farms and fertility mattered. We must connect investors to the places where they live, creating vital relationships and new sources of capital for small food enterprises.

V.             Let us celebrate the new generation of entrepreneurs, consumers and investors who are showing the way from Making A Killing to Making a Living.

VI.           Paul Newman said, “I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” Recognizing the wisdom of these words, let us begin rebuilding our economy from the ground up, asking:

  • What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?
  • What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits
  • What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?

Download the poster: Principles of Slow Money (PDF)

In Canada, The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) initiated a similar project in 2010 through the sale of Community Bonds. Millions of dollars were raised to purchase and renovate a building, which now provides a home to numerous non-profit organizations. Their rent provides a respectable return for investors. CSI is lobbying for legislative changes in Ontario to make Community Bonds a more common and accessible tool for non-profit organizations. They provide a Do-It-Yourself Guide to Community Bonds online.

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