CAROL PEPPE HEWITT is an author, business owner, social entrepreneur, pioneer in the community finance movement, and a champion of small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Since founding Slow Money NC in 2010, she has catalyzed over 160 peer-to-peer, low-interest loans to 90 small farmers and local food businesses in North Carolina.
In 2011 Carol found 16 people and together they formed a Limited Liability Corporation to refinance Chatham Marketplace, her local coop grocery store, to the tune of $400k.
When the 75-acre farm site of the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in Silk Hope, was at risk of being sold to real estate developers in the winter of 2013, Carol found 27 local investors to finance the purchase of the property. They now carry the “mortgage” so that the two non-profits that run the 12 year old, twice annual Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, and the year-round Shakori Hills Cultural Arts Center, can flourish and grow, delighting people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and musical persuasions for decades to come.
To date that totals over 2 million dollars in local investing in things that matter in North Carolina.
Carol’s book, Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food With Slow Money, (New Society Publishers, April 2013) tells the compelling, real life stories of twenty-two of those local food entrepreneurs – folks who grow, process, distribute, and sell local food – and the motivations behind the ordinary people in their communities who become their lenders. It is a blueprint for any community that wants to get moving from Wall Street to Main Street.
A successful business owner herself, Carol understands the challenge of raising capital to start-up, run or expand a small business. Growing up in rural NW Connecticut, she watched as one by one the working farms disappeared. Now she works to change that trend, guiding patient capital to small-scale farmers and the businesses that support them in North Carolina, where she and her husband, Mark, have lived for the past 30 years.
Carol received the 2013 Leadership Triangle “Goodmon Award” in Economic Development, and is sought after as a speaker in the area of Local Investing and Community Finance. She has spoken at Mother Earth News Fairs across the country, keynoted the Sustainable Communities Conference in Sarasota, FL, an Economic Vitality Summit in LaGrande, OR, and engaged in over 20 “Running On Local” events from Florida to Boston, and beyond.
Carol’s goal is to spread the message of the power and the pleasure of local investing, and to help build resilience in local foodsheds and local economies throughout the USA and beyond.
Check out Carol’s calendar for speaking appearances at conferences, festivals, etc. and come be inspired by the power of local financing.
You can find her TEDx talk, titled “What If You Couldn’t Scare Me?” here.
You can also order a copy of Financing Our Foodshed here.
Enjoy a minute of fun by Lyle Estill – videographer extraordinaire – about the day in March, 2013 when Carol’s books arrived in his warehouse.
“Banks just don’t lend to small farmers. They don’t understand us. They can’t provide terms that work for our business model. It’s just not a good fit.” CASEY LANCE, co-owner, Calee's Coop Farm in Brevard, NC