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Raising Dough for Food Businesses

Elizabeth Ü, author of “Raising Dough,” provides a helpful framework for thinking about appropriate financing sources for enterprises. Gray Harris explains CEI's investment strategies in regional food systems.


Is lack of access to capital really a problem for food businesses that are solving social and environmental problems?

There are more types of capital than ever before to support food businesses... but many don't know they exist, they can be challenging to access and even more, it’s hard to tell which type will be the best for each business.

Elizabeth Ü, author of “Raising Dough,” provides a helpful framework for thinking about appropriate financing sources for  enterprises, sensitive to their unique values, priorities, and where they are in the business lifecycle. Her presentation is designed primarily for organizations that work with socially responsible food businesses, such as people who work for nonprofits, government offices, economic development companies, consulting firms, lenders, foundations, family offices. Of course the same principles apply to fundraising entrepreneurs themselves, who will leave with lots of tools to work with in their quest to raise money.

Gray Harris, of Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), a community development finance institution (CDFI) in Maine, gives some detailed, illustrative examples of their investments, and investment strategies in regional food systems.



Download the slides (.pdf)


Order "Raising Dough," the book

Presenter Bios

Elizabeth Ü

Elizabeth UElizabeth Ü has spent the last decade working to bring down the barriers that prevent sustainable food entrepreneurs from solving social and environmental problems. Founder and executive director of the nonprofit Finance for Food, Elizabeth regularly delivers workshops on the intersecting topics of community capital, impact investing, food entrepreneurship, and sustainable food systems at conferences geared toward business owners, funders, institutional and individual investors, nonprofits, technical assistance providers, and academic audiences. Previously, she served on the management team at RSF Social Finance, where she helped launch a loan fund for high impact food businesses. She has also served on staff at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and Slow Money, which was then a project of Investors' Circle.

Gray Harris

Gray HarrisGray Harris is the Director of Sustainable Agriculture at CEI, a community development financial institution in rural Maine.  She coordinates business technical assistance and aligns financing with local food system businesses—from farmers to retailers—in Maine and the northeast.  She participates in numerous action-oriented agricultural initiatives statewide, is on the steering committee of Slow Money Maine, and pretty much loves anything to do with food.



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