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“If you eat, you’re an investor.” That’s the motto of a startup called Credibles that aims to bring a crowdfunding model to all sorts of food businesses. 

Credibles is the latest outgrowth of Slow Money’s efforts to catalyze thoughtful investment in a local food system. The program offers “edible credits” which are a small-scale investment platform for small, artisan food businesses.

Through the Credibles website, edible credits are sold by these food businesses to the public as way of raising capital. “Investors” can then redeem their credits for food, and most of the food companies offer a bonus (up to an additional 10 percent) for customers who pre-pay.

The credits work like a gift card.  All the customer has to do is tell the cashier that she wants to pay with credibles; the cashier can look up the customer’s account, deduct the total from her balance, and voila! Done. Credibles credits can even be given as gifts.

“Good food needs both money and time to grow and ripen. Small-scale investments have a huge impact on a food business’s ability to thrive. And you don’t need to be able to write big checks,” said Arno Hesse, founder and CEO of Credibles.  

Credibles brigns crowdfunding to food using an eater-centric world view. The model taps both finance (Slow Money) and technology (Clearbon) expertise to revamp traditional funding methods and newer crowdfunding methods. A win-win for entrepreneurs and customers alike, Credibles makes it easy to support local restaurants and food businesses the same way community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs support farmers. 

Buying edible credits also means you can leave your wallet at home next time you venture to the farmers’ market or grab a neighborhood lunch because these businesses already have your money. You paid it forward. 

So far, the Credibles website has businesses in New York, California, and Oregon, but the company has plans to take the system nationwide.

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Photo Credit: Kenneth B. Moore via Compfight cc