Invest in Community Foods Market & Double Your Impact

By Catherine Howard, Director of California FreshWorks

California FreshWorks & the 11th Hour Project are matching investments up to $75k through March 11, 2019.

West Oakland’s Community Foods Market (CFM) is close to realizing its vision of opening a community-centered, full-service food market.

Community Foods Market, located at 3105 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, will open its doors in Spring 2019.

With features like an on-site cafe and social hall for community events and workshops, CFM is built on a foundation of equity, inclusion, and health and will soon open to the community at its Myrtle St. and San Pablo Ave. location after more than seven years of planning and development.

Deeply invested in CFM from its earliest idea stage, the project exemplifies what FreshWorks is working to accomplish in focus regions throughout the state, including the East Bay. By providing flexible and patient capital that meets the needs of our clients, FreshWorks is able to support community-driven ideas that bring healthy food options and spur local economic and social benefits.

Over the last seven years, FreshWorks has invested in CFM in a number of ways. An early stage FreshWorks grant provided seed capital for the company’s capital raise. Our credit enhancement unlocked more than $17MM financing from our network lenders. As the administrator of FreshWorks, the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) has invested in CFM’s Direct Public Offering, and now – only weeks before the market is scheduled to open for business – FreshWorks is partnering with the 11th Hour Project to make a new investment in to CFM, while challenging others in the community to do the same.

We have always believed in the vision of CFM Principal Brahm Ahmadi. We understood the potential for good that a locally owned market, focused on stocking fresh, healthy food, and creating new jobs in a community-focused setting could have in the neighborhood. And we also understood that, regardless of how great the idea was, CFM would struggle to attract the right capital from the mainstream financial system.

Businesses like CFM in places like West Oakland are at an immediate disadvantage in accessing capital, due to decades of disinvestment that are the result of racial discrimination and structural inequities. Locally-owned businesses, working in communities of color, are regularly denied access the kind of capital that is needed to take entrepreneurial and community-centered proposals from concept to completion. FreshWorks’ financial tools were designed to address structural inequities so entrepreneurs like Brahm can create assets like a full-service grocery store in communities that have seen decades of disinvestment.

In addition to working with FreshWorks lenders, CFM is raising much-needed equity capital through a Direct Public Offering (DPO), allowing California residents to invest in the store and become founding stakeholders. Reflecting its commitment to West Oakland, CFM has developed an option for low-income neighborhood residents to invest in the store, with low minimum investment opportunities.

Today CFM launches the fifth round of its DPO, and FreshWorks, in partnership with the 11th Hour Project, is thrilled to announce a new $75K challenge investment that will run from February 25th through March 11th. This is the second investment challenge facilitated by FreshWorks, and we are excited to launch this challenge as the market is nearing the end of construction and closer to opening its doors. Your personal investment into CFM during this period will be matched dollar for dollar up to $75,000 by The 11th Hour Project, in partnership with FreshWorks. Each community-based investor receives a modest financial return and are empowered as stakeholders to inform the day to day operations and services of CFM.

This DPO challenge investment is a continuation of FreshWorks’ long partnership with CFM. Our commitment to CFM reflects our mission to increase access to healthy foods in low-income communities, while building a food system grounded in racial and economic equity. Because of our long-standing relationship with CFM, we have a deep understanding of the company’s capital needs and know that in order to make the new store successful, the company requires both debt financing and flexible equity capital. Unlike traditional venture capital or start up investments, the funds CFM is raising from its DPO will be patient equity that does not extract outsized returns from the company and its local community.

Our work with the 11th Hour Project demonstrates how FreshWorks serves as a platform to engage in strategic partnerships that attract local, community-based investment into California’s communities. Our partnerships with organizations like 11th Hour allow us to align priorities and leverage each other’s capital and expertise to help cultivate an equitable food system.

We invite you to learn more about the DPO investment match campaign at: https://communityfoodsmarket.com/2019/02/25/double-your-impact-matching-investment/