A recent report conducted by Community Food Enterprise, backed up by a number of case studies, highlights the importance that local businesses in the Food and Beverage Industry play in economic development. The report focuses on twenty-four food ventures from around the world, such as an organic farming co-op, as well as a caterer in Zambia. All of the enterprises examined in the report aim to become sustainable business models which are not dependent on government aid.
However, the distinguishing feature of the businesses examined is that they weren’t primarily concerned with output and a bottom-line. They factored into their business decisions their impacts on the environment, workers, and communities. Their aim is to create a stable enterprise, from both an environmental and financial standpoint. The end result is a network of local food businesses that can have a direct role in preserving soil fertility, fighting childhood obesity, and improving general nutrition. It is precisely these aims that make these local businesses so important to economic development surrounding them.
By having a large number of small business ventures, it ensures consumer and developer confidence that the business climate in an area is stable. If one of these ventures fails, the economy surrounding it doesn’t collapse, as it might with one large venture in place. Also important is the nature of the food industry: food is one of the key universal necessities of humankind. As such, it is important that these needs are taken care of, before other enterprisers feel confident making a foray into that local market.
Hurdles do exist, however. Many of the aforementioned enterprises are funded by some form or another of government or non-profit aid. Financing is difficult, because these smaller businesses don’t have stock to offer. Thus, “investing” becomes tricky for the consumer. The end result may necessitate non-profit organizations which help to fund these enterprises, to which consumers can donate. Loyal consumers can also help by eating the products at these ventures, as well. These businesses are just the beginning of a positive shift in the food and beverage industry towards making their businesses and businesses around them more sustainable, as well as providing a strong base for economic growth of other local sectors.