Ignite BGI: Community Sourced Capital

What do you get when you mix wine, cheese, pizza, beer, and community together?

a. Fun
b. Something for everyone
c. Local finance
d. A new economy
e. All of the above!

Community Sourced Capital, an idea born in the Entrepreneurship program at BGI, is putting it all together: food, fun, local business, finance, and community. We’ve designed a way for small businesses to source capital directly from their own communities. It could be called community development finance, and it’s all about giving people the opportunity to develop the communities they want to live in!

With Community Sourced Capital people share their money with businesses they care about. They do it with a Square. A Square represents $50 a person shares with a business. Many Squares put together create a zero interest loan for a business that gets paid back to “Squareholders” over time. So $50 in, $50 out. Simple and fair.

We need a new paradigm for the economy and it can’t be based on old ideas around growth and GDP. We live in a very different world from the one that existed when classical economics and Gross Domestic Product were cooked up. Our current financial system relies on growth and I don’t say, “relies” lightly. Our current economic system cannot survive without continuous growth. And that makes me think, “Uh oh.” As Gar Alperovitz aptly titled his new book, What Then Must We Do?

What is an economic system that works in a “full world“. What can we design that will regenerate our ecosystem resources and recover our connection with each other? Designing such a thing (actually many things working together) doesn’t seem like an easy task, and maybe it feels a little frightening. So what to do? I suggest we get together. We collaborate, think, and act in community. We work and play with the idea that what matters is Community Development.

I believe that Community Development isn’t just for “other” people anymore. The new economy, the emerging economy, the developing economy, is all about community. From co-ops, to the sharing economy and p2p (peer to peer), to crowdsourcing, we are in the midst of a community development revolution. We’re on our way to a new economy and it’s going to be good–good fun, good food, good finance, and great community!

about the author

0Rachel Maxwell is Co-founder of Community Sourced Capital. A member of cohort 9, she took a deep dive into sustainable finance before graduating from BGI in 2012. Prior to Community Sourced Capital, she was Deputy Director of REIL, a network of leaders sharing information and shaping international policy around clean energy and climate change. Rachel works to move capital flows toward real value. You can contact her at rachel@communitysourcedcapital.com and follow her @rachelmrmaxwell

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