Small farmers and organic producers now have their own cryptocurrency. Sort of. Meet Beetcoin.
The platform is the brainchild of the Slow Money Institute Woody Tasch. He also founded SOIL — Slow Opportunities for Investing Locally — to help fund small organic producers. It’s already provided more than $75 million in low-interest loans to farmers and food startups.
“What happens when you step outside of what you’ve been taught about how investing or philanthropy is supposed to work?” Tasch told the Daily Camera. “What if we were putting our money to work in a way that was really designed to help the end user, not minimize risks for the funder?”
SOIL launched in 2017 with a goal of providing no interest loans. It’s aimed at pooling local investors to create their own SOIL groups and vote on where to loan funds. Once loans are repaid, they’re used to support new initiatives.
Investments for Everyone
“The goal is that it very gradually will grow into a reasonably sized pool of capital that can make a dent in the local food ecosystem,” Tasch said. “But however many of these SOIL groups we have, they’re always gonna be dots in a very large country. We want to make it possible for people anywhere to get in on this.”
Beetcoin will help communities invest, even if members can’t make the minimum loan threshold. While it’s not a cryptocurrency in the way its inspiration Bitcoin is, it works in a similar community-sourced method.
Beetcoin users can contribute any amount to a SOIL investing group. Donations are pooled together to create a more substantial loan, no matter how small the individual contribution. Tasch’s new book, “AHA! Fake Trillions, Real Billions, Beetcoin and the Great American Do-Over,” explains the new platform. Beetcoin is expected to launch in 2021.
“Having been of age for the first Earth Day in 1970, seeing how my generation was unable to grapple with environmental issues in a very meaningful way has been frustrating for me.”
Tasch’s commitment to organic agriculture is evident, especially when it comes from small producers. He says it has visibly positive results. “The benefits of local agriculture are surprisingly broad,” Tasch said. “To know where your food comes from, to work with friends and neighbors to support that, I think has enormous cultural value.”