Grassroots Finance

We want to live in a world where any project or enterprise can obtain financing from members of the local community, and where the majority of businesses in a community are locally owned and locally financed. 

SELC’s Grassroots Finance Program develops legal resources and policies that allow local community financing and ownership of enterprises and assets, with a specific focus on navigating and/or removing securities law barriers to local investing.


Why Grassroots Finance?

Traditional economic development models focus on attracting business and real estate investments from outside of a community. The unfortunate result is that wealth leaves the community, rather than remaining available for the community’s benefit. In a more sustainable economy, entrepreneurs would be able to raise capital from local community members’ equity investments or loans, crowdfunding, community-supported business models, and other creative means. Community members would have a vast array of choices for investing their money locally, rather than choosing to invest primarily in Wall Street companies. Most enterprises would be controlled by their customers, workers, and other stakeholders. Through education and advocacy, SELC is working to develop pathways that overcome securities law barriers to local investing.


SELC advocates for a local investing law in California! Click here to learn more about the Local Economies Securities Act.

SEC Petition and JOBS Act:  In 2010, SELC drafted a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission requesting a rule change that would enable the growth of community-owned and cooperatively-owned enterprises. Specifically, SELC asked the SEC to grant a securities compliance exemption for investments under $100. The petition asked that regulators allow anyone to advertise and seek investments of under $100 for an enterprise or project, without having to jump through any securities compliance hurdles. For more information on the petition that partially led to the passage of the Federal JOBS Act and draft investment crowdfunding exemption, please visit our SELC and the CROWDFUND Act and Community Enterprise Blog.


California has a new securities law exemption for worker cooperatives! Click here to learn more about how worker cooperatives can raise capital using the new securities law exemption for community investors. 

Workshops:  SELC partners with the Green-Collar Communities Clinic (at the East Bay Community Law Center) and Students for Economic and Environmental Justice to put on workshops about legal topics related to start-up food justice enterprises and forming worker cooperatives that cover a wide variety of legal topics, including financing, structuring business entities, employment law, and more. Check our Events page or email for more information on upcoming workshops.

In the meantime, click here to see all 14 videos from our most recent Legal EatsWorkshop for Community Food Enterprise in West Oakland!

Legal Resource Library:  Check out our Legal Resource Library at for information on financing, local investing, business entities, employment, and land and housing.

Securities Law Basics: 


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