At a glance
At The Conservation Fund (www.conservationfund.org), we believe that for environmental solutions to last, they have to make economic sense. That is why we focus our efforts on market-based solutions to protect our land for the economic benefit and enjoyment of local communities.
In 2011, The Conservation Fund expanded its business lending nationwide by launching ShadeFund (www.shadefund.org), a web-based lending program that provides loans and gap financing for green entrepreneurs looking to grow. Our loans support business expansion, create employment opportunities, advance sustainable economic development, and support the rural tax base.
ShadeFund was established with a lead grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. Our inaugural corporate sponsor is Mercedes-Benz USA.
Our Loans & The Process
ShadeFund lends up to $50,000 to small businesses that use natural resources sustainably. Terms and interest rates (currently 4% - 9%) vary depending on collateral, past business performance, and credit worthiness.
To apply for a loan, visit www.shadefund.org/apply and fill out a simple contact information form. A staff member will reach you by phone or e-mail to learn more about your business and see if it's a good prospect for a ShadeFund loan. The business must complete an application and provide 3 years of tax returns and current financial statements (with all schedules). Once all information is submitted, we typically take between 30-45 days to process a loan.
Eligible entrepreneurs are located in the United States and are involved in the sustainable use of natural resources. Eligible sectors include farming, agri- and ecotourism, forestry, natural foods and medicines, small-scale biomass, and energy efficiency. ShadeFund entrepreneurs have ranged from organic and limited resource farmers to forest product innovators.
ShadeFund values Field Partners. They are essential in connecting us with promising green entrepreneurs who would benefit from a ShadeFund loan.
Field Partners don’t necessarily need to be experts on business finance or natural resource management—they simply help us identify qualified loan candidates because they understand the local context for those entrepreneurs. In some cases, our Field Partners may serve as a reference or provide technical assistance.
To become a Field Partner, contact Enrique Perez (email@example.com).
Wherever possible, ShadeFund uses its loans to leverage other sources of capital - grants, loans and owner contributions - to meet a business’ total funding need. ShadeFund at times provides subordinate or equity-like capital so banks and other financial institutions can say “yes” to a loan, even when collateral or equity is not quite sufficient to meet their underwriting standards.