According to its website, Black Farmer Fund was created by Karen Washington and Olivia Watkins after they spoke with Black farmers who expressed a desire for capital but had faced discriminatory lending practices.
This is timely as Black farm ownership declined from 15 million acres in 1920 to 1 million acres by 2017, according to Ceres Trust.
Additionally, Black farmers only accounted for 0.87% of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) lending from 2001 to 2008. These statistics declined further in 2009 and 2016, as they would only account for 0.80% of USDA lending, per The Counter.
The existence of the Black Farmer Fund is necessary for this very reason. Beyond capital support that includes grants and low-interest notes, the fund also works to provide technical support such as virtual and in-person engagements for skills training and community building.
The latest funding round is a testament that investors see great promise that Black Farmer Fund will continue to operate in good faith to benefit Black food businesses. The raise follows a pilot fund, with the goal of reaching $20 million in capital, per Black Star News.
“We are humbled by the support from investors aligned with our commitment to racial and economic justice,” Olivia Watkins, co-founder of Black Farmer Fund, said in a statement, according to Black Star News. “With $11 million secured, we are well on our way to achieving our $20 million goal, this significant milestone reaffirms our belief that when we empower Black communities, we foster a stronger, more inclusive food system that benefits us all.”
Chordata Capital Co-Founders Kate Poole and Tiffany Brown said in a statement, according to the outlet, “Chordata Capital is thrilled to be supporting our clients in investing over $2.5M in Philanthropic and Reparative Notes in Black Farmer Fund. Chordata’s core commitment is investing in racial and economic justice, and our community is thrilled to support this Black-led democratically-stewarded loan fund.”