Lending with the Slow Money SLO community: An insider's look
Meet Local Lender Jeanie Class
Jeanie Class moved to San Luis Obispo County in 2004 from Santa Barbara County where she worked as a journalist and mediator for many decades. After 25 years specializing in small claims mediation, she retired, and misses the rewarding work of helping people to communicate respectfully with each other and resolve disputes. She still offers guidance on communication and conflict resolution, but only on a pro-bono basis.
Living on the Central Coast has enabled her to pursue other interests: taking weekly Qi Gong classes at a cliff overlooking the ocean in Shell Beach; driving the back roads of this beautiful County and shopping at our abundant farm stands; and building a community of new friends. In addition to those activities, Jeanie also seeks local groups where she can find like-minded folks and volunteer opportunities to fill her mellowed schedule. She was a member of the national Slow Money organization prior to moving here, and when she found that SLO county had its own chapter, she was excited to get involved.
“I love frequenting farm stands wherever I am. I should have a bumper sticker that says ‘I stop for farm stands.’ “ - Jeanie Class
Jeanie's bounty from a SLO County farm stand.
The Attraction to Slow Money SLO
With her foundational knowledge of the Slow Money concept, Jeanie connected with Jeff Wade, Founder and Executive Director of Slow Money SLO, and has been involved with the investment group since 2018. She likes the idea of investing in local companies that she knows - she can meet owners and employees and visit their businesses. Slow Money SLO also offered fun events (before COVID) where she was able to connect with other community members that likewise saw the importance of supporting entrepreneurs.
Jeanie understands the gap in funding that Slow Money SLO fills when a business needs funding to grow to the next level. After receiving a loan from Slow Money SLO, small businesses may then be eligible for traditional cash infusion like bank loans or equity. As an avid supporter and consumer of local food production and farming, she sees Slow Money SLO as an important tool for the sustainability of our community food system.
"Part of my reason for enjoying Slow Money SLO is we used to (before COVID) have fabulous events and it was fun to meet new people with shared interests”. - Jeanie Class
Slow Money SLO's last event, Bounty of the Harvest held at Tiber Canyon Ranch. Photo credit: Kris Beal Photography.
The Decision to Invest
Like other Slow Money SLO investors, Jeanie is eager to help support local food businesses. Shopping locally is among her favorite routines, so she met opportunities to help fledgling businesses with great enthusiasm. Getting to know a local business is a highly valuable alternative, to a world of big box stores and huge corporations where investors have little to no insight into where their money actually goes. Conversely, Slow Money SLO facilitates a personal connection between lenders and entrepreneurs.
Meeting business owners and listening to their presentations is always enjoyable, whether Jeanie decides to invest in their business or not. She appreciates the Slow Money structure and process, and the format for learning about new local businesses straight from the source. Investing to help a local business grow brings her the joyful value of witnessing what her money is doing.
“What attracted me to Slow Money was the theory that for those of us who invest in mutual funds, we don’t really know what we own, because everything is so conglomerated, and there would probably be some ownership of holdings that don’t match our values. The suggestion (of Slow Money) is that we divest from some of those, and invest in local food production instead. Investing with Slow Money SLO helps the local business community, increases local food sustainability, and provides me more ethical satisfaction with my financial portfolio.” - Jeanie Class
The Return on Investment
While some of Jeanie’s lending projects are still ongoing, she was excited to see that one of the loans she made has been fully paid off. She knows this is not only a win for her and her investment, it is great news for the company her investment supported. Ever the small business champion, she was excited to hear that one of the businesses she lent to can now receive bank loans, and has more leverage to continue growing the company.
Beyond the financial returns, Jeanie has the joy of connecting with fellow lenders, farmers, and business entrepreneurs. While she misses the Slow Money SLO events, she is still able to stay connected by listening to new lending project presentations and by visiting Slow Money SLO supported businesses like Whalebird Kombucha. She has been very pleased to see the company grow and appreciates the continual building of relationships with these and other business leaders in SLO county..
“I go to Whalebird Kombucha every week. The “factory” is a marvel of modern technology. Plus, I’m addicted to the delicious flavors and health benefits of Whalebird kombucha, and I also enjoy getting to know the young women working in the retail store. The Whalebird folks are all so wonderful. I love going there and watching them thrive! ” - Jeanie Class
What’s next for Jeanie
Jeanie looks forward to the return of Slow Money SLO events, but also to more volunteer opportunities. She enjoys spreading the word about the Slow Money concept and encouraging others to get involved. Jeanie is a true advocate for Slow Money SLO and loves suggesting ideas on how to continue our growth and prominence in the community.
Our community of lenders are phenomenal and we are so grateful for Jeanie and all the others! Although we are always ready to hear from you if you're interested in lending, there are many other ways to invest in our local food and farming if lending is not for you! Our Support Local page will give you some great ideas on how to get started.