Three Formerly Incarcerated Friends Launch Trucking Cooperative in Nashville with CDFI Financing
Client: Third Eye Trucking
Client Location: Nashville, TN
CDFI: Seed Commons
CDFI Service Area: National
Technical assistance and funding with support from the Grow with Google Small Business Fund
After reentry, three formerly incarcerated friends turned to solo entrepreneurship as a pathway to rebuild their lives and support their families. While attending an entrepreneurship training together in Nashville, they were excited to learn that employees could collectively own and democratically control businesses.
Through continued training, technical assistance, and mentoring from local organizations, the friends laid the foundation for their new cooperative business, Third Eye Trucking. They gained the necessary skills and knowledge to form their business model and governance and management structures, make financial projections, and analyze feasibility.
Next they needed capital to make their business plan come to life. The friends turned to Seed Commons who provided them financing for two trucks and two trailers. The loan not only helped the co-op get off the ground during the height of the COVID pandemic but also kept the business going when newer drivers had to leave the co-op due to health and family issues.
The Seed Commons model of non-extractive lending with no credit score, collateral, or personal guarantee requirements – and most importantly, no interest or principal repayment requirements until borrowers are able to cover operating costs, including market-rate salaries – is a game-changer for businesses like Third Eye Trucking.
Many truck drivers are exploited through high-interest loans, factoring services that take large cuts from contracts in exchange for truckers receiving payments sooner than the industry standard of 30-90 days, and misclassification of truckers as independent contractors. Also, with COVID and other current events like the war in Ukraine impacting the global supply chain and fuel prices, rates are not keeping up with skyrocketing fuel costs and fewer available loads are increasing competition and undercutting prices.
However, due to the non-extractive nature of Seed Commons loans, the co-op has been able to postpone loan payments and stay afloat.
The co-op’s vision is to grow to a large fleet with local box truck transportation, personnel transportation, warehousing and distribution facilities, dispatch services, and a truck driving school focused on creating good jobs, ownership, and equity-building for formerly incarcerated individuals, who are often excluded from economic opportunity based on their records and lack of intergenerational wealth and funding to start new businesses.
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