Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about how Grow Ahead works. More questions? Contact us.

General

How does Grow Ahead differ from other crowdfunding platforms?

  • Grow Ahead focuses on funding small farmer organizations in the Global South. We believe this helps build organizational capacity which enables organizations to multiply their impact. We also exclusively fund regenerative organic agriculture and resiliency efforts. We do not fund initiatives that use chemicals or synthetic fertilizers or who do not adhere to fair trade principles, for example.

What percentage of every dollar donated to agroecology scholarships and farmer to farmer trainings goes to farmers and what percentage is kept by Grow Ahead for administrative costs?

  • 100% of donations made for farmer to farmer trainings and agroecology scholarships go directly to small farmer organizations in the Global South. Grants cover a variety of administrative costs, including web hosting, bank fees, staffing, etc.

Partnership

How does Grow Ahead choose producer organizations for its loan, farmer to farmer and scholarship programs?

  • Grow Ahead is primarily seeking to partner with small-scale family farmer organizations committed to regenerative organic agriculture and resiliency efforts.

How does a producer organization apply to be a partner?

  • Organizations in the Global South may submit applications to qualify for the loan, farmer to farmer training or scholarship programs. Grow Ahead has a waiting list and is not currently accepting applications.

Why does Grow Ahead focus on the Global South (and not the Global North)?

  • Grow Ahead’s mission was inspired by Fair World Project (FWP) and the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers (CLAC)’s contest soliciting small-scale farmer groups to share their experiences and best practices in confronting climate change in their communities. The report revealed that there is a significant funding gap for regenerative and agroecological solutions being implemented by small farmers in Latin America, and more broadly in the Global South. Grow Ahead seeks to overcome this gap by enabling consumers and organizations (like churches, nonprofits and retailers) to lend, or make a direct donation, to support agroecological solutions and farmer-led trainings.
  • We are fully supportive of initiatives that seek to support small farmers in the Global North. There are existing options for farmers in the North to reach capital, more information can be found here.

Participation

I live outside the US or Canada, can I still participate?

  • Absolutely! You can support producer organizations’ quest for sustainability from wherever you are on the planet.

How can my organization, institution, or office participate?

  • Organizations of all sizes can participate. We invite you to raise money from your colleagues and friends and jointly open an account at Grow Ahead. Contact us for more information.

How can I get my local coffee shop, school or place of worship involved in Grow Ahead?

  • We love partnering with local organizations to spread the word about Grow Ahead. If you’d like to partner Grow Ahead, please contact us we’ll follow up!

Lending

How do I start lending?

  • Lending is easy. By visiting our Lend page, you can make a loan right away through our secure website. Grow Ahead will provide regular updates on the progress of your loan.

What happens to my money after it gets repaid?

  • You’ll have a choice of what you do with your money. You can reinvest in the next lending cycle, donate to Grow Ahead’s capacity building programs, or withdraw your funds. If you decide not to finance another project, just note that you can only withdraw your money once a cycle has been completed. Withdrawals cannot be processed in the middle of the cycle. You can find information about the status of your loan on your profile page.

What is the minimum I can lend?

  • The minimum amount you can lend is $25 (USD).

Why do I have to pay a transaction fee?

  • Stripe charges a transaction fee that Grow Ahead, at this moment, cannot cover. The fee is equal to 2.9% of your loan plus $0.30 (for example, a $25 loan will come to $26.08). This fee will be charged in addition to your loan, so that the full loan amount will go to support the farmers.

What is the currency of my loans?

  • All loan transactions are made in USD to avoid currency risks.

Will my loan earn interest?

  • Unfortunately, laws governing this type of financial activity in the US do not allow you to earn interest on your loan. The funds returned to you at the end of the term will equal funds loaned minus possible transaction fees.

The Lending Process

What happens if the producers pay late?

  • We understand that producer organizations cannot control many factors at the local level. We stand on the side of the producer organizations and we will patiently await repayment. While it is possible for the unforeseen to occur, defaults by established producer organizations are rare.

How long is the lending cycle?

  • The cycle lasts between 6 to 18 months, and depends on the weather, local capacity, harvest, available infrastructure, etc. When we finance a project, we will inform all lenders of that project what the expected cycle time will be.

Does Grow Ahead charge any fees to the Producer Organizations?

  • Yes. To help cover operating expenses, Grow Ahead will charge producer organizations a fee for money loaned. This fee is negotiated with each producer organization and lenders will be able to see the fees charged for the project they helped to finance; we aim to charge approximately 6-8% on an annual basis. These fees are a necessary part of a sustainable financial model: not only do they defray Grow Ahead's operating expenses, they prevent our loans from being unfairly competitive and disrupting local financial markets.

What is the fee paid by producers used for?

  • Fees paid by producers are used to cover Grow Ahead’s operational costs, to execute some marketing activities, and to expand Grow Ahead in order to reach more and more lenders and farmers around the world.

Additional Resources

Where can I go to learn more about Regenerative Agriculture, Small Farmer Resiliency and Fair Trade?