Accelerating Appalachia is the world’s first 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)
Soil and water health innovations
Other innovative triple bottom-line businesses with special consideration for women and businesses from marginalized regions and communities that have been impacted by the loss of jobs in the mining, logging, farming and textile industries
Central/Southern Appalachia is on the same latitude and elevation as China’s ayurvedic regions and is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. With over 1,500 seeds in cultivation, we are North America’s largest food shed. So why is our economy so darn extractive, destroying what makes our region great? Accelerating Appalachia accelerates growth-stage businesses in food, clothing, shelter, and wellness, to support Appalachia’s regenerative economy, sustaining good jobs and keeping thousands of sustainable farmers on the land.
Accelerating Appalachia is responding to success and growing demand:
Accelerator graduates have leveraged over $11 million in investment
70% of our businesses are in growth
75% of the accelerator applicants were woman-owned or co-owned.
We have a growing network of over 40 mentors and investors
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 people, place, 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, we seek to support Appalachia’s growth to regenerate our region.
National, Regional and Local Partners
Accelerating Appalachia is collaborating and partnering with multiple enterprises and organizations from across the region, including: Kiva Zip, Patagonia, Lush Cosmetics, Threshold Foundation, Village Capital, 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, Climate Listening Project, Cultivating Resilience, The Adaway Group, Creative Reaction Lab, and many more.