Fall / Winter Investments

The Boston Impact Initiative closes our first equity deal! City Fresh Foods is a 20-year-old, nationally acclaimed enterprise that delivers fresh, wholesome meals to charter schools, eldercare facilities and other organizations throughout the Boston area. As one of Roxbury’s major employers, City Fresh is respected as a “triple bottom line” business that brings returns to people, planet and profits. City Fresh plays an anchor role in Boston’s burgeoning urban food movement, serving major customers such as Meals on Wheels while sourcing from area producers and advocating for increased local food production. BII partnered with Cienega Capital, an impact fund from California, to make this investment.

Renew Energy Partners is a Boston-based energy efficiency project development firm that specializes in major commercial retrofits in New England. BII joined as an anchor investor in Renew’s collaborative project with HEET, a local non-profit that focuses on bringing efficiency upgrades to underserved markets. The joint program will bring upfront financing and project management to retrofit Greater Boston’s non-profit buildings and historic houses of worship to reduce energy costs and use across the sector.

Fresh Food Generation is a local food enterprise that brings healthy, affordable and culturally relevant cuisine to Boston’s low-income communities of color. After receiving a $5,000 prize from BII through Future Boston Alliance’s Accelerate! program, Fresh Food Generation is growing from a local catering company to launching a food truck. Housed inCrop Circle Kitchen’s Pearl facility, FFG is bringing its mission to nourish and uplift the community to neighborhoods across Boston. BII is now making a follow-on loan to help secure FFG’s food truck.

Social Good Marketing Wins Prize in Dorchester

from left: Nene Igietseme (BII), Deborah Frieze (BII), Michelle Miller (SGM), John Maudlin (FCBL), Travis Lee (FCBL)

 

The Boston Impact Initiative was proud to sponsor a social impact prize for a local enterprise to receive free office space in the new Fields Corner Business Lab co-work facility. Founded by Michelle Miller, Social Good Marketing was chosen from a competitive field of dynamic businesses for its mission to bring effective and affordable marketing services to small businesses and non-profits. We were impressed by SGM’s commitment to empowering local entrepreneurs and engaging a diverse network of young consultants. We congratulate SGM and FCBL for their role in growing a more resilient economy in Dorchester and beyond.

Summer/Fall Investments

  Deborah Frieze, Tony Williams, and Alison Moronta of JPNDC closing the deal

Deborah Frieze, Tony Williams, and Alison Moronta of JPNDC closing the deal

Tony Williams Dance Center is a studio in Jamaica Plain dedicated to providing quality dance instruction to Boston’s diverse urban community. From ballet to salsa to hip hop, TWDC boasts one of the most diverse class offerings, faculty, student and parent populations in the Greater Boston Area. TWDC produces the highly acclaimed Urban Nutcracker, and has helped hundreds of Boston youth develop physical and mental discipline and emotional confidence through the arts. We provided TWDC with a loan to create more student scholarships and hire additional staff.

88 Acres88 Acres is an artisan food enterprise, producing healthy snacks free of the top eight food allergens. 88 Acres seeks to craft foods with the simplest & most sustainably sourced ingredients, create transparency throughout their supply chain and promote healthy living and food awareness among consumers. 88 Acres is manufacturing at the new Pearl facility of Crop Circle Kitchen (also a BII portfolio group), creating over a dozen new jobs in Dorchester. We made a convertible debt investment to help 88 Acres secure equipment and launch operations.

fieldscornerlogoThe Fields Corner Business Lab is a shared workspace in the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester. FCBL offers affordable pricing, flexibility and convenience to small business owners and nonprofit organizations that need it most. FCBL seeks to create a productive, healthy and synergistic environment for its members and, ultimately, foster economic development for the community. We made a grant to FCBL to sponsor office space for a social enterprise with exceptional community commitments.

smarterinthecitylogoSmarter in the City is a tech accelerator based in Dudley Square, Roxbury. Smarter in the City provides opportunities for local entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities to develop their programs, apps and companies, while advancing technical and business skills. A select group of start-ups from Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and neighboring communities will have access to workspace, a well-connected network of high tech and business mentors, and will be showcased to investors and companies. We made a grant to Smarter in the City to support its first year of operations.

CERO Starts Operations, Raises DPO Funds

CERO Co-founders and worker-owners Timothy Hall and Josefina Luna

CERO Co-founders and worker-owners Timothy Hall and Josefina Luna

The Boston Impact Initiative is a proud early investor in CERO, a nationally recognized worker-owned recycling and hauling company based in Dorchester. A recipient of Boston’s Greenovate Award and one of Sharable.com‘s 16 “Most Exciting Co-ops,” CERO is a green, multi-racial, democratically managed social enterprise that embodies localist values.

After crowd-sourcing $17,000, CERO officially launched its Direct Public Offering (DPO) this fall. DPO’s are an increasingly popular tool for raising community capital by allowing non-accredited investors to purchase stock in small businesses. CERO’s use of a DPO reflects its vision to build a company that is supported by and accountable to the broader community. The Boston Impact Initiative is pleased to be one of CERO’s first DPO shareholders.

Starting in October, CERO officially launched operations, renting a truck and providing waste and composting services for five America’s Food Basket grocery stores. We invite you to learn more about CERO’s business model and inspiring story.

Financing the New Economy

Self Help Credit Union, used as a case study

Self Help Credit Union, used as a case study

This summer, the Boston Impact Initiative was proud to convene the Boston Community Finance Study Group in partnership with the Center for Economic Democracy and City Life Vida Urbana. The study group brought together some of Boston’s most dynamic organizers, co-op developers and alternative finance practitioners for eight sessions to explore community controlled financial institutions that could help meet the economic development needs of Boston’s low income communities of color. We studied a range of models, including community loan funds, community development credit unions and community equity funds that are well-suited to finance such non-traditional enterprises as worker-owned cooperatives and community-owned land trusts.

New Team Member: Nene Igietseme

Nene Igietseme

Nene Igietseme

We are pleased to welcome a new member to the Boston Impact Initiative team, Nene Igietseme!

Nene is a youth worker and consultant in Boston with a strong interest in developing youth leadership in community economic development strategies. Her work has focused primarily on training, curriculum and education around alternative and oppositional economic institutions, culture and dominant narratives, and youth and multi-generational organizing. Nene is part of the trainer/affiliate network of the Center for Story-based Strategy (formerly smartMeme) and the Interaction Institute for Social Change. She is also a member of the Center for Economic Democracy staff team.

Nene’s work with us will focus on increasing the pipeline of cooperative, local, and community-owned businesses into our investment pool, as well as strengthening the technical assistance system for these enterprises.