Shared Interest: A business loan, amongst friends, that funds a community grant.
Shared Interest was a grant available to the local creative community, made possible through a collaborative with our friends at Little Baby’s Ice Cream.
In 2016, we extended a short-term, low-interest loan to our friends at Little Baby’s Ice Cream, in order to help them expand operations to Baltimore (now open!). This loan represents not only an all-too-rare demonstration of hyperlocal cooperative capitalism, and a way to offer access to quick capital through existing business relationships, but it does not end there: we agreed that when the loan was paid back, it would be accompanied by a flat amount of interest, which we, would match to establish a fund for a small “creative project grant”, which we are calling Shared Interest.
Our goal is both to create access to funding and create further connections and trust between small businesses, but also to use a loan as a mechanism to invest back into the community.
Both the original loan, and the resulting community grant, are designed to be easy. So many grants and funding opportunities require onerous applications, fees, reporting (heck, we even help people write business plans for funding opportunities). Instead, a quick and easy loan gave birth to a easy-to-apply for grant.
Through shared Shared Interest we awarded a $1000 grant to one project contributing to the vitality of Philadelphia through creativity and community engagement.
The application process was simple, and the the recipient may use the grant however they see fit. We recognize that people define success in different ways, and that creative projects at their best often involve risk; we welcome the recipient to define their own success.
Shared Interest was inspired by Philly Stake, a dinner-based micro-granting event co-founded by Wanderwell director Kate Strathmann in 2010; Philly Stake facilitated grants to nearly 30 projects over the course of 14 dinners between 2010-2016. We were additionally inspired by New York City-based consulting firm Macktez’s Summer Stipend.
The Outcome (an update)
The Shared Interest grant was awarded in 2017 to artist Donna Backues, who through the refugee-founded service organization SEAMAAC launched a batik class which brought together a diverse group of participants to create fabric paintings, culminating in an exhibition at the end of December. SEAMAAC provides a robust program of education and community resources for teens and adults in the immigrant and refugee communities in South Philadelphia; through the grant Donna was able to launch this new art class for adults, which brought together folks from Indonesia, Burma, Egypt, and the Rohingya refugee community. From Donna:
The thing I love most is hearing [folks from all the different cultures chatting with each other. The Indonesians realized the woman who is Rohingya can also speak Malayu (which is the language I speak). She was a refugee in Indonesia and Malaysia and became fluent in Malayu. I have wanted to see the immigrant community come together like this for a long time. I made new relationships from the immigrant and refugee community in South Philadelphia and new relationships were formed between my students. Art is a great way to break down barriers. They like the class and keep asking me when I will offer it again. The next class they are asking to make scarves to possibly sell. Very doable!