Whole Foods Bank?

While on a recent project in Maine, I came across an interesting article about Maine Medicinals, of Dresden, Maine.   This tiny company produces herbal supplements, namely an organic elderberry syrup designed to promote health.   Maine Medicinals is a cool company in its own right, but, an even more interesting angle on the firm is that they are one of the first recipients of a small business loan from Whole Foods Market.   The Whole Foods Local Producer Loan Program, first announced in 2006, is a $10 million loan program that provides small loans (between $1 and $100,000) to local organic food producers.   The program offers low fees and interest rates of between five and nine percent.  While not as attractive as some SBA-backed loans, the Whole Foods funds can provide a needed lifeline to new food producers.  Since the program started, Whole Foods has invested $4 million in 66 companies across the US.   The Whole Foods loan fund is another interesting example of emerging financing options for small firms.  Lots of other large firms have developed similar efforts.  Prominent examples include the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses effort and the Sam’s Club Small Business Loan program.

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