- By Tribal Business News Staff
- Food | Agriculture
A northern California-based nonprofit said last week that it committed a $3 million program-related investment to Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace, a Denver-based company that specializes in Native American food.
The Christensen Fund, based in San Francisco, said the investment will help Tocabe build out its new direct-to-Tribe meal program and support its efforts to develop a supply chain of Native food producers. Denver-based Tocabe owns a restaurant and marketplace that features Native American cuisine and Indigenous ingredients sourced from Native farmers, ranchers, producers and caretakers.
Last October, Tocabe launched Harvest Meals, a line of ready-made, direct-to-consumer meals featuring traditional ingredients from Native producers. Priced between $11 and $16, the ready-made meals — with names like Bison Posu Bowl, Wild Rice Jambalaya, and Blue Corn Mush — can be shipped throughout the lower 48 states and include a medley of ingredients sourced from local and Indigenous partners. Among these ingredients are wheat berries, prickly pear cactus and tepary beans, a legume that’s been grown in the southwestern U.S. since pre-Columbian times.
“It was really an extension of all the work we were doing coming out of COVID with our marketplace launch,” Tocabe Co-Founder Ben Jacobs, a member of Osage Nation, told Tribal Business News last fall. “Other than giving people accessibility to ingredients, we wanted to provide access to quick, convenient, all Indigenous-based meals. We know what we do well, and one of those things is sourcing and distributing food, but also providing fully prepared food.”
Harvest Meals pushes Tocabe into the fast-growing ready-made meals industry, which has seen significant growth in the wake of COVID-19, per research published by industry analyst Grand View Research. In 2021, the market stood at roughly $144 billion, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 5.3% between 2022 and 2030.
The program related investment (PRI) for Tocabe is one of two announced last week by the Christensen Fund, which also said it had made a $1 million loan commitment to support important lending programs of Oweesta Corporation, a Longmont, Colo.-based Native CDFI intermediary.
Both investments are part of The Christensen Fund’s new Purpose-Aligned Investment portfolio to amplify Indigenous-focused investment opportunities and bolster the impact of its endowed assets. The fund's initial Purpose-Aligned Investments in 2023 targeted TAHITO, an Indigenous-led public equity fund rooted in Maori ethics, and Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm supporting Indigenous-led businesses, with approximately 70% of its portfolio companies having majority Indigenous ownership.