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Working as a sustainable business owner, Charley Cummings knows firsthand what it’s like to grow a company from the ground up. Not only does a burgeoning business need leaders with grit, it also needs funding to grow. But traditional lenders may not be in a position to provide what an enterprise needs – financially or philosophically. Enter Walden Mutal Bank, the country’s first de novo mutual bank in more than 50 years. Opening in 2022, the bank is a “unique interweaving of [seemingly] disparate threads – digital technology, sustainable food, cooperative governance, and a distinct regional focus,” according to Forbes coverage.

Founded by Cummings, the former CEO of a pasture-based meat business, Walden Mutual Bank is focused on financing farmers and entrepreneurs working in the agricultural and food-based business space. “It was very much borne out of some of the experiences we had in building Walden Local,” says Cummings in an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio. “We saw a lot of gaps in the existing lending infrastructure… and a lot of non-bank lenders offering interest rates I felt were higher than justified based on the underlying business.”

Read more about how Walden Mutual Bank is providing funding for farmers and food-based businesses.

Data You Can Use

Of senior executives say it’s essential for companies to create value to benefit all stakeholders
0 %

The Story: 

A large-scale study of senior executives by Wall Street Journal Intelligence and Infosys finds nearly six out of ten leaders say companies must create value in ways that benefit all stakeholders – including employees, partners, customers, and communities – not only shareholders. Even more, leaders believe that companies have an obligation to operate sustainably, earning profits with minimal harm to society. This purpose-driven approach to business is widely embraced not only by the leaders of the business, but by a company’s employees and the customers it serves.

The Takeaway: 

Purpose-driven brands have mission at their center. There is a natural alignment between what a brand says it stands for internally and the actions it takes externally. Consumers can sniff out when brands are only doing purpose performatively. “A purpose-driven business isn’t just a trend or strategy deployed to woo customers, but rather, it is part of your brand’s DNA which your business lives by,” according to the Forbes’ article on becoming a purpose-driven business consumers trust. “The responsibility [for purpose] lies with the brand owners and leadership teams to define the values and working ethos that cascades down to all branches of the business.”

Source: WSJ Intelligence and Infosys, “The New Workplace,” August, 2023

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