Green Business Lending

America is full of entrepreneurs ready to make their mark. Yet many conscious innovators have a hard time finding the money to grow their businesses. Traditional banks often are reluctant to make loans because they are unfamiliar with sustainable business models or transaction costs and risks are too high. With limited personal resources and banks reluctant to lend, it can be hard for these businesses to thrive. 

We support emerging and small businesses that use natural resources sustainably in select geographies and markets across the United States. To date, our green business lending programs have:

  • Made more than 350 green small businesses more bankable
  • Leveraged $48 million
  • Provided more than 7,500 hours of technical assistance
  • Helped create or retain more than 1,000 jobs across Appalachia and the Southeast 
What You Get When You Get A Loan From Us

When you open a loan with us, you get much more than just a financing solution. Benefits include:
• A dedicated staff committed to small business lending and community economic development.
• A streamlined application and approval process.
• Technical assistance, including marketing and business development. (Availability may vary based on borrower location.)

Can We Help You?

We provide both loans and counsel to entrepreneurs in the United States who are committed to using natural resources sustainably. These diverse businesses range from microenterprises and artisans to specialty food manufacturers and multi-million dollar forest products enterprises.  We’re currently focused on entrepreneurs working in:

• Urban or traditional farming
• Organic and natural foods
• Sustainably sourced wood products
• Eco-tourism
• Energy efficiency and small-scale renewable energy

Our efforts to support sustainable businesses means we support a triple bottom line approach, and measure success in terms of benefits to the economy, the environmental and to society. 

Read about our two main green business lending programs to find out if one of them can help you. 
Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF)

NCIF portfolio company, FLS EnergyNCIF provides flexible financing of up to $250,000 to small and emerging natural resource-based businesses in rural, economically distressed communities of Appalachia and parts of the Southeast. Learn more >>




Family owners of Fern Studios, furniture makerShadeFund is the microlending arm of the Natural Capital Investment Fund that targets and supports forestry-related businesses and small-scale agricultural producers. ShadeFund lends up to $50,000 nationwide. Learn more >> 

Contact Us

If you have questions about what program best fits your financing needs or if you have needs outside the scope of these programs, we can help. Contact Rick Larson for more information.


Rick Larson
Rick Larson Chapel Hill, NC
(919) 951-0113

Rick is Senior Vice President and Director of Special Initiatives for Natural Capital Investment Fund, The Conservation Fund’s business lending arm that provides patient capital to triple-bottom-line natural resource-based businesses.

His prior experience includes being Managing Director of SJF Ventures, a $45 M mission-driven venture capital fund based in Durham, NC; National Director of REAL Enterprises, a nationwide entrepreneurship education program for rural youth and adults; and shop floor supervisor and financial controller for the Cummins Engine Co.

He is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School and UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he teaches courses on impact investing and financing social ventures.  He serves on the Board of Fair Trade USA, which certifies Fair Trade products in the US.