How to Invest Local

If you’re interested in investing locally, you’ve probably explored credit unions and community banks. The money in community banks goes back out into the community in the form of small business loans. But what are some other options for investing locally?

  1. Angel Investor – If you’re one of the 1% of investors that have a lot of net worth from a successful company or business venture, you can help a start up by becoming an angel investor. Like the name suggests, “angels” invest their own money to make a small business owner’s dream a reality. You are their guardian angel. Most angel investors prefer a focus like food or minority led companies. The sky is the limit.
  2. Community Developed Loan Funds – This is one of the best kept secrets of local investing. Community Developed Loan Funds target under-served and low income neighborhoods. What better way to help a community grow in a positive way than to bring in new business and job opportunities?
  3. Cooperatives – First developed after the industrial revolution, cooperatives are groups of people with similar job sets like ranchers, farmers, brewers, grocers, etc that cooperate or co-op to protect their local interests. They provide loans to the co-op members. By investing in local co-ops, you’d be serving a wide range of businesses at once.
  4. Crowdfunding Local crowdfunding is a hybrid of social media and investment. Most people are familiar with crowdfunded projects like music, tech gadgets, and movies, but a lot of local businesses are turning to crowdfunding to get their product or service to a wider audience. A quick search on any number of popular crowdfunding sites will give you several investment opportunities.
  5. Local Investment Groups –There’s power in numbers. If you want to give a substantial amount of monetary support to local businesses, it may be a good idea to join (or form!) a local investment group. By banding together, your group can help local businesses on a higher scale than you may have been able to just by yourself.
  6. No interest loans – No interest loans fall somewhere between investing and donating to a local business.   The website Kiva popularized the trend of people requesting microloans from potential investors for such things as business supplies and other expenses. The investors get their principal back without interest. Now that dairy farmer can buy more cows thanks to you!
  7. Peer to Peer LendingPeer to Peer (P2P) Lending is gaining popularity. It’s similar to a bank loan except investors loan the person or business the money directly instead of the bank issuing a loan. By cutting out the middle man, the local person or business sees lower interest rates and the investor sees a higher rate of return.  Lending Club and Prosper are two well known P2P sites.

No matter how you decide to invest locally, the important thing is you are giving back to your community members and businesses.   By investing locally, you’re creating a strong foundation of prosperity that everyone benefits from.

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