The Sequoyah Fund

Operating Capital

For Food & Farm Businesses in Western North Carolina

SustainabilliesThe Sequoyah Fund and EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems (EMFS), a project of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems – are teaming up to provide affordable financing and specialized support to small– and mid-scale and limited-resource farmers and food businesses. These services can help them obtain the infrastructure and capital needed to grow and expand their businesses.

Apply Now!

What’s the Program For?

This grant/loan program is designed to provide start-up and growth capital for farm and food businesses. Eligible uses can range from basic start-up expenses to equipment and working capital to expand your existing business.

CEFS HistoryWho’s Eligible?

North Carolina businesses who:

  • Farm in, produce in, or purchase from producers in the seven western counties of NC (Haywood, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Cherokee, or Clay) or on the Qualla Boundary.
  • Currently sell or process vegetables, fruit, meat or other agricultural products or run other food-related businesses.
  • Have a business plan in place for their business.
  • Attend at least one counseling session with their local Small Business Center prior to financing.
How Does the Financing Work?

The applicant is eligible for equipment or infrastructure purchases of $15,000 or less.


The EMFS grant will cover up to 30% of the cost of the infrastructure or equipment being purchased. Maximum grant: Up to $4,500 (30% of $15,000).

  • Use of funds: Purchase of equipment or infrastructure by eligible businesses.
  • Amount: Minimum loan of $1,000
  • Terms typically range from 1 to 5 years, depending on loan size and farm/company’s ability to repay.
  • Interest rate: Fixed, 5% to 12% as of January 1, 2020.
  • Origination fee: 1% of loan amount.
  • Collateral: A first lien on equipment or infrastructure to be purchased and additional collateral may be required.
  • Guarantee: Personal guaranty by any owner of 20% of more of the enterprise.
  • Underwriting includes review of credit report and tax returns.
  • Borrower equity: A minimum of 5% required on all loans
How Do I Participate?

Fill out this interest form to see if you are eligible:

  • Obtain a quote and/or prepare an enterprise budget for your purchase.
  • EMFS will reach out to confirm your eligibility and will connect you with a Sequoyah Fund representative to discuss your financing needs.
  • If required, participate in training and/or business counseling as requested.
  • Provide The Sequoyah Fund, Inc. with annual tax returns including all statements for the life of the loan.
  • Participate in evaluation related to the impact of these funds on your business.

You can also download the The Sequoyah Fund – Operating Capital Brochure here.

For general inquiries or to get started, contact: