50by40 Hosts Inaugural Food Funders Circle

Philanthropic Opportunities for Alternative Protein Investors

Tackling the challenge of investments in the nonprofit sector with a unique lens, 50by40 and co-host Beyond Animal, recently hosted the inaugural Food Funders Circle. This was a high-impact, online event for alternative protein investors with the opportunity to engage and directly fund hand-picked projects supporting game-changing transformation in our food systems. The event brought together funders as well as relevant organisations to create an engaged and focused environment for conversations on philanthropy and their transformative potential within food systems.

The inaugural Food Funders Circle, a high-impact online event for alternative protein investors to meet and directly fund hand-picked project proposals supporting transformation in food systems. 

The first of a series of Food Funders Circles, the theme for the event was “Philanthropic Opportunities for Alternative Protein Investors”, and was attended by nearly 100 participants from across the globe. The event hosted an impressive line-up of speakers such as Roger Lienhard from the Blue Horizon Group, Seth Goldman from Eat the Change, Elise Bernal from the Greenbaum Foundation, Claire Smith from Beyond Animal, Lisa Feria from Stray Dog Capital, Tobias Leenaert from the Vegan Strategist and Sebastian Joy from 50by40. Presenting partner organisations included the Educated Choices Program, Better Food Foundation and Mighty Earth. The participant list included a few major international VCs, banks and plant-based investors. 

Highlighting the importance of bringing in more investors in the Alternate Protein space, Tobias Leeneart from The Vegan Strategist, mentioned how despite a number of nonprofits and businesses working towards halving the production and consumption of animal products by the year 2040, the progress is hindered with a sizable gap of 3 billion dollars between donations to NGOs and investments in businesses. 

The Food Funders Circle aims to bridge this exact gap.

The panel discussion exposed interesting insights for building a resilient movement to transform our food system and the need for leadership from all sectors of society. Seth Goldman, Co-Founder and CEO at Eat the Change, shared that in order to build the required leadership, there is a need for the involvement of community-based organisations which must help democratise and promote planet-friendly foods. He highlighted the crucial role they play in educating consumers and advocating for change in a way that large corporations and governments cannot.

The panel discussion was followed by a shift towards utilising the conference as a match-making platform whereby 50by40 partner organisations pitched their projects to the attendees who had joined  the event. Breakout rooms at the end of the discussions helped provide dedicated opportunities for philanthropists to engage with the organisations directly.

The panel discussion was followed by a shift towards utilising the conference as a match-making platform whereby 50by40 partner organisations pitched their projects to the attendees who had joined the event. Breakout rooms at the end of the discussions helped provide dedicated opportunities for philanthropists to engage with the organisations directly.

Lisa Feria from Stray Dog Capital stated,

“Transforming the food system will require many interventions. Stray Dog Capital recognizes solving problems and achieving systemic transformation requires acting in solidarity with many allies across disciplinary divides and differences of approach. Investing in companies alone will not solve all of the problems that are evident in our food system. To create equitable and thriving communities, supporting non-profits is vital to creating comprehensive social and environmental change.”

Karyn Knox, Director of Development, Educated Choices Program said,

Participating in the Food Funders Circle was a true honor. The effort put forth to highlight important and necessary  partners is incredible. From the platform used and the dress rehearsal to prepare us for a smooth and professional presentation, to the speakers who set the tone for us before pitching, it was all first class. Well done, 50by40 and Beyond Animal, and thank you!

The success of this pilot event was reflected by the enthusiastic participation of investors and potential donors and provides encouragement to a nexus of philanthropy and nonprofits.

The Food Funders Circle will be hosted regularly as an event series, each with a different theme which moves towards a strategic goal. These events will facilitate not just a matchmaking process between the funding and organisations offering solutions, but also bring in experts based on respective thematic areas, encouraging conversations around funding towards more sustainable, and compassionate food systems.

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