Jennifer Astone of Integrated Capital Investing and the Transformative 25 recently spoke with Teju Adisa-Farrar and Sarah Kelley, co-managing directors of the Fibers Fund, launched in 2023 alongside the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) and Fibershed with Mission Driven Finance.
As Kelley shares:
Fiber crops are an integral part of agricultural systems with critical impacts on land use, soil health, communities and economic development. The current global textile industry is built on exploitation of ecosystems and people of the global majority. Yet the textile and fiber sector has received little attention from investors. Fiber producers and entrepreneurs across supply networks struggle to access capital to meet the growing demand for sustainable, regenerative textiles.
The Fibers Fund acknowledges the inherent historical and current issues of environmental, racial, and economic injustice in the textile industry. We acknowledge that working in land-based industries can further inequity considering that land in the U.S is disproportionately owned by White people and large corporations. As a result, I designed the Black Fiber Cohort (BFC) within the Fibers Fund to specifically support small businesses and individual entrepreneurs in this space. The BFC provides a grant, relevant business TA, and capacity-building workshops for emerging Black fiber entrepreneurs and sustainable textile businesses.The BFC creates bridge support for these entrepreneurs to be better positioned to receive other types of capital in the future; essentially building a bridge to the pipeline. This initiative hopes to address some aspects of exclusionary financing practices and the lack of representation in the sector by uplifting these businesses to be meaningfully included in fiber and textile value chains. In addition, our governance model is aimed at shifting decision-making power by including those excluded by the industry’s extractive practices.