A nature-based business accelerator, connecting innovative businesses, investors and mentors aligned with people, place and prosperity. We attract and scale high-impact, seed-stage businesses in the following sectors:
Forest products (natural building) and non-timber forest products (ginseng, mushrooms, fruit & nut trees)
Craft Brewing/ Distilling
Other innovative triple bottom-line businesses with special consideration for innovators and entrepreneurs from marginalized populations.
Soil, Seeds, Grains, Grasses, Climate, Water
Appalachia is a world HUB for sustainable businesses
Food, energy, agriculture, climate and community resilience, so establishing the world’s first nature-based accelerator to support these innovators was the natural next step.
Accelerating Appalachia is responding to success and growing demand:
Communities – More than 60 jobs created, over 200 new sustainable farm acres and 20 new farmers added over 2.5 years.
Entrepreneurs – Accelerator graduates have leveraged over $2 million in investment
Women – 75% of the accelerator applicants were woman-owned or co-owned.
Investors/Mentors – More than 40 in network, continuing to grow.
Youth/Students – Partnering with Warren Wilson College (western North Carolina), Berea College, University of Pikeville and the University of Kentucky to engage sustainable business students in accelerator program and provide opportunity for student internships
We’re partnering with organizations from around the world to identify and attract incredible entrepreneurs from Appalachia and elsewhere who are solving big problems with their business models, profiting through improving the health of people and planet. Through an extensive review and vetting process, these early-stage entrepreneurs are chosen to join our accelerator.
Bringing the best entrepreneurs together for the core program and taking our entrepreneurs on the road throughout Appalachia, with opportunities to present their business to a variety of markets and investors/mentors.
To guide the entrepreneurs, we bring in seasoned entrepreneurs and proven practitioners as mentors, who advise and consult with entrepreneurs to build companies that effectively address social and/or environmental needs, while being profitable, scalable, and considerate of the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
We help entrepreneurs connect with a robust network of top investment funds as well as a growing group of individuals interested in investing through a nature-based lending group. We help our participants prepare for investment, if that is what they seek. For 2016 we have a special partnership with Kiva Zip for farmers. Read about it and more details here.
We are deeply committed to place, people and prosperity, in balance with nature.
We support those who commit to a place and make it better and we equally value the wisdom of the traveler who brings lessons learned from the world. We are inspired by our friend and father of sustainable agriculture, Wendell Berry. His dogged determination for over 50 years to radically apply wisdom and affection and commitment to place continues in the “Resettling of America”:
“Do the work of changing our ruinous industrial agriculture system into a culture that uses nature as the standard, that accepts no permanent damage to the ecosphere, and that takes into consideration human health in local communities.”
Investing in Appalachia is Investing in America.
In the heart of the world’s oldest mountains and one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, Appalachia is growing one of the world’s most extraordinary and diverse nature-based economies. In 2016 we are excited to be hosting with partners in Pikeville, Louisville and Lexington, KY and Asheville, NC.
National, Regional and Local Partners
Accelerating Appalachia is collaborating and partnering with multiple enterprises and organizations from across the region, including: Kiva Zip, The Prosperity Collective, Village Capital, Social Capital Markets, Big Path Capital, Appalachian Regional Commission, Brown-Forman, Ouita Michel Restaurants, Kentucky Distillers Association, Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaches Institute, Kentucky Center for Ag and Rural Development (K-CARD), Kentucky Innovation Network, MACED, Appalachian Food Summit, Community Farm Alliance, Local Foods Network, Kentucky Proud/Appalachian Proud, Grow Appalachia, Rural Scale, and many more.
Thank you to all of the amazing businesses who applied for the 2015 session! If you would like to be notified of any further sessions, workshops, or consulting services, click here, and please be sure to include your contact email and businesses contact information.