Independent Grocer New Seasons Introduces Microloan Program

Independent Grocer New Seasons Introduces a Microloan Program
The New Seasons Partner Fund supports a diverse regional food economy through low-interest jump-start loans and business mentorship for underrepresented food entrepreneurs

New Seasons Market has introduced a microloan program to support a diverse regional food economy through low-interest jump-start loans and business mentorship.

The retailer said that its New Seasons Partner Fund will prioritize underrepresented food entrepreneurs who historically face barriers to capital, such as small independent businesses owned by women, people of color, immigrants and LGBTQIA people, as well as social mission-based companies.

The structure and objective of the program are innovative: Use a portion of sales of the retailer's New Seasons Partner Brand private-brand products to provide loans to other small companies so they can grow to become private-brand suppliers, thus ensuring a pipeline of suppliers for the company's unique program of working with small companies and being transparent about its identity.

“The New Seasons Partner Fund was inspired by our staff and partners who have been coming together in the spirit of building community through good food to support local producers with prepayments, donations and mentorship,” said Chris Tjersland, New Seasons Market’s director of brand development. “Creating a formal loan program helps entrepreneurs grow their business while furthering our commitment to support and empower a diverse regional food economy.”

The New Seasons Partner Fund is available for independent food producers that have been in business a minimum of two years, with fewer than 25 employees, and are seeking financing to fund new business growth such as purchasing equipment to expand production, introduce a new product to market or develop marketing materials. Loans start at $5,000 to $25,000, and are routinely granted four times each year.

In addition to capital, loans come with several business support and mentorship options to ensure that loan recipients are set up for long-term growth and success, according to the retailer.

Portland, Ore.-based New Seasons Market operates 21 independent grocery stores in Washington, Oregon and California, as well as four New Leaf Community Market locations in Northern California.

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