Taste of Immokalee is rapidly expanding. With this growth comes the hurdle that many small businesses struggle to overcome: the ability to finance the expansion. As avid supporters of Taste of Immokalee, the Tamiami Angels Impact Investment Initiative and Lipman Family Foundation have made a generous donation of $120,000 to help with this expansion.
In 2016, a southwest Florida based group of investors known as Tamiami Angel Fund Investors (“TAFI”) was introduced to Taste of Immokalee (“TOI” or the “Company”). TAFI was impressed by the B-Corp structure and vision of TOI and expressed its desire to help. As a result of TAFI’s efforts a unique partnership was forged with the Community Foundation of Collier County (“CFCC” or “Foundation”) to launch the Taste of Immokalee Social Investment Fund. Donations to CFCC can be directed to be “invested” in TOI. Through the TOI Social Investment Fund, investors are donating the shares in the company purchased with their charitable gift to the Community Foundation of Collier County. As a TOI shareholder, the Foundation could benefit from the sale of those shares if Taste of Immokalee takes off and the Company is sold. The proceeds from a sale would be reinvested by the CFCC to further local economic development and entrepreneurship, especially those in Immokalee.
Taste of Immokalee is set up as a “benefit corporation” or B-Corp, a hybrid between a nonprofit and for-profit company. It seeks profits and pays taxes, but it has a mission for public benefit, which in its case means giving back to Immokalee through donations.
Nationally, the numbers prove that the rising popularity of impact investing is not just anecdotal. In 2020, according to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the size of the impact investment market grew by an astonishing 42.4% in the last year — from $502 billion to $715 billion in assets under management. Through the leadership of the Tamiami Angels, CFCC and TOI, local Southwest Florida investors can participate in this popular investment style and make a direct investment through the CFCC. “While the Tamiami Angels Impact Investing Initiative was the first of its kind for Southwest Florida in 2016, the triple win structure of impact investing has caught fire on a national level”, said Timothy J. Cartwright, chairman of the Tamiami Angel Fund Investors. “Today, impact investing is ubiquitous, however, local opportunities can be hard to find and fund. This investment vehicle creates a turnkey approach for local individuals to directly fund and, on a first hand basis, witness the community impact.”
To date, TAFI has raised $115,358.50 and has donated this amount to CFCC for investment in TOI. In addition, TAFI has been active in trying to raise the level of awareness to this type of socially responsible impact investing in our community with TOI being the direct beneficiary. Timothy J. Cartwright, also Chairman of the Taste of Immokalee Board, said “Tamiami Angels are proud to support Taste of Immokalee and their mission of teaching confidence and leadership skills to high school students. Over the years, the students we meet as timid freshmen grow into high achieving and outgoing college-bound seniors. It is a thrill to see the Taste of Immokalee program awaken the entrepreneurial spirit inside of each student as they leverage their God given talents to pursue personal and professional development goals.”
Taste of Immokalee has been more successful than we ever dreamed possible, yet we know there is so much more potential to unleash – in both the business and the countless young lives that are being transformed through this program. In 2019, the company brought on a group of exceptional executives to the board, with proven success growing enterprises, particularly in areas relevant to guide Taste of Immokalee’s next evolution of growth such as multi-channel retail distribution, geographic expansions, and product innovation. “If we could raise up to half a million dollars, that would take a lot of pressure off, really by being able to purchase inventory and do some real marketing. More money also is needed to involve more students and to pay them for all the hours they work. Some of the students in the program work second jobs because they need money to help support their families and to go to college” said Marie Capita, the Executive Director.
“Anytime we can help high school students get real world job training to better prepare them for today’s workforce is always a win/win for both the students and future employers. The Taste of Immokalee program has successfully trained local students on all aspects of managing their own real-time business and created quality consumer products in the meantime. Lipman Family Farms is proud to be able to support them”, said Jaime Weisinger – Director of Community Relations, Lipman Family Farms.
Interested investors should call 239-262-6300 or see tamiamiangels.com and click on Taste of Immokalee.