Our original idea was to create a community-owned grocery store based on the principle of "by us, for us" and the goal of "feeding ourselves".
Our work towards that goal, however, has revealed an even greater need and opportunity to serve as a hub of health, wellness and advocacy services for residents of Cleveland who have been increasingly marginalized when it comes to healthy food access, racial health disparities and environmental injustice.
This expanded view of the need for our work is focused on providing resources, training and economic opportunity that will continue to pour reinvestment into the physical and human capital of our communities.
We have recently acquired our own physical space and after consulting with our community, existing coops, food hubs and community-based food incubators we have refocused our priorities and plans for future development. We have decided to develop community-based infrastructure that will provide local value-added producers access to facilities and resources to grow enterprises. We will also provide a space to incubate economic opportunities and increase access to educational experiences intended to cultivate demand for healthy food as we create sustainable businesses that will also serve the community.
We are currently redeveloping our membership program based on making facilities and operational capacity available to incubate food entrepreneurship in the community.
Approximately 100 individuals invested in Little Africa based on our initial idea of starting a community-owned grocery store. Although our business model has changed, our commitment to community-based ownership is still firmly in place. Our founding members will still retain ownership shares in the cooperative. They will also receive preferred access to future programs and services that are offered to retail customers and to the community at large.
The founding members believed in us from the start and their support continues to be at the core of everything that we do.
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