ImpactAlpha, Oct. 29 – Konda Mason’s move from managing jazz musicians to financing regenerative farmers “felt pretty seamless to me,” Mason said at the GIIN’s Next Normal Now convening this week. The musicians and farmers are both “mostly Black men and women working on the edges of society. Everyone depends on them for soul foods – whether that’s jazz or whether it’s food.” And both are generally underpaid and marginalized economically. Only about 44,000 Black farmers remain in the U.S., down from more than a million in the 1920s.
Mason is helping hundreds of farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi raise yields and income while reducing methane and water use with a proven system of rice intensification. Jubilee Justice provides flexible capital, technical assistance and market access. “It’s happening with Black farmers being in the front of the line this time instead of the back,” Mason says.
Jubilee builds on Mason’s track record at “the intersection of land, race, money and spirit.” She is a powerful voice and network connector in Oakland, where she co-founded Impact Hub (now Evolve Oakland), hosts the Brown Rice Hour podcast and directs strategy at The Runway Project, which provides “friends and family” loans for Black entrepreneurs. For years, Mason co-produced the Oakland-based community capital, or COCAP, conference to amplify the voices of community activists and investors.
Regeneration is about more than agriculture, she says. With Jubilee, and partner fund Potlikker Capital, Mason and her team “put life at the center of every decision.” Time is ticking on an unjust system and degraded planet. “Get proximate,” says Mason. Too often investors remain at a distance from critical issues and it keeps them from acting. “Come closer.”