Green Zebra, a startup grocer aspiring to offer low-income areas a mini-grocery store that focuses on fresh, high-quality food, was in need of long-term, patient equity to open and operate its first location in Portland, Oregon. Dispelling the notion that healthy food isn’t convenient and convenient food isn’t healthy, Green Zebra is on a mission to increase access to healthy food in locations too small for a traditional grocery store.
In 2014, National Community Fund I, LLC (NCF) launched NCF Equity Fund, a revolving equity fund to support start-up businesses that face cash flow constraints early on in their growth cycle. In 2015, NCF provided a $400,000 equity QLICI to Green Zebra to be used for working capital. With the assistance of NCF’s equity, Green Zebra was able to raise additional equity capital and launch its first retail location in a highly distressed Food Desert in North Portland.
The project generated 40 direct permanent jobs. All of the employees receive a living wage and employer-paid healthcare, paid vacation and a 20% employee discount on all purchases. Since NCF’s initial equity QLICI, Green Zebra has opened two additional locations and launched a new catering program. Altogether, Green Zebra annually serves over 300,000 customers who otherwise lack access to healthy food options.
Green Zebra is located in a local economic zone (the City of Portland’s Interstate Corridor Renewal District) and a Food Desert.