The Fibers Fund team has been on the road this fall conference season, sharing updates about our integrated strategy to support U.S. natural fiber and textile producers and processors as part of the regenerative agricultural system.
Conference season has begun! The Fibers Fund team just returned from the Regenerative Food Systems Investment Forum (RFSI) in Denver, where they met colleagues new and old who are working on creative models of finance for agricultural businesses. The opening panel at RFSI featured two farmers in the fiber sector: Oregon rancher Cate Havstad, who uses the hides from her cattle in her leather goods company Range Revolution, and 5th-generation New Mexico farmer James Johnson, who raises cotton along with onions, peppers, and other crops. These producers helped put fibers front and center on the first day of the conference!
On day two of RFSI, Co-Managing Director Teju Adisa-Farra gave a powerful mainstage talk on “Including Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Regenerative Portfolio.” She reminded the audience that the food and fiber systems are born from a legacy of colonialism, slavery, and inequitable economic structures, and she spoke about the ways the Fibers Fund is developing a fully regenerative strategy through its partnerships, its equity-focused governance structure, and the launch of the inaugural Black Fiber Cohort. Co-Managing Director Sarah Kelley moderated a panel called “Re-imagining How Capital Can Support Communities Who’ve Been Systemically Left Behind,” featuring Skya Ducheneaux of Akiptan and Lolita Nunn of Potlikker Capital. Lolita and Skya shared specific and inspiring ways that their funds aim to be truly catalytic for the communities they serve, and the engaged audience stayed after the allotted time for questions and discussion on steps they could take to be a next link in an equitable funding pathway. Although it was not on the mainstage, several attendees said this panel was one of the highest-impact sessions they attended.
At RFSI, Sarah and Teju also had the chance to meet Jen Astone, who created the Transformative 25 List. Next week, Sarah will be representing the Fibers Fund for the T25 webinar on agriculture-focused funds on October 18. This webinar series is part of the yearlong programming featuring this year’s 2023 Transformative 25 list members.
Teju’s presentation has made her in demand as a speaker, so she will also be speaking at RFSI’s next gathering, Women Transforming Food and Finance, November 14-15 in Atlanta, GA, and at the Diverse Leaders in Climate and Agriculture Summit, November 17-18 in Durham, NC, organized by Croatan Institute’s Racial Equity, Economics, Finance, and Sustainability (REEFS) program. November will be a busy month as Sarah is also speaking on a panel about “Financial Solutions to Enable the Transition” at the Regenerative Agriculture and Textiles Summit, November 14-15 in Washington, DC. Together, Teju and Sarah will also present at Fibershed’s Wool & Fine Fiber Symposium on November 10 as part of a panel on “The Road to Sustainable Fibers and Textiles.” The team will highlight the partnership between Fibershed and SAFSF, how our strategy builds on insights from the SAFSF Fibers Roadmap research and Fibershed’s Regional Fiber Manufacturing Initiative, and ways that this work is integrated with public policy solutions to support structural reform.
If your fall plans take you to any of these conferences or events, and if you are free to join the T25 webinar on the 18th, please be sure to say hello!