Imagine being able to invest in a diverse portfolio of residential real estate properties around Atlanta’s rapidly growing market that not only delivers a great return, but also empowers the people in the properties that you’re invested in to improve their lives, both financially and personally. Atlanta-based ROOTS Real Estate Exchange Fund is the first commercially motivated, community inspired Real Estate Investment Fund that focuses on investing in people through properties, not the other way around. 

ROOTS, formed in 2020 by a team of local, experienced industry experts and established executives, offers its members a residential real estate investment opportunity that is delivering excellent returns and creating new found wealth for the people who create those returns; the residents. As Daniel Dorfman, Root’s Founder says “The residents paying the rent are the ones actually paying the bills and generating the income. Don’t they deserve a seat at the table?”.

For now, Roots is a fund for “accredited investors” who want to invest with their hearts, as well as their wallets. By early next year, the fund expects to be able to allow “non-accredited” investors to participate as well, INCLUDING THE RESIDENTS who rent the properties. Until then, they’ve created very unique way for the residents to participate and build equity from the very first day they move in. 



“How does that work?”:

Roots’ exclusive “Live in it like you own it” program invites residents to treat the property as if it were their own. In exchange, the resident earns interest on their security deposit, and rental rebates for taking care of the property and fulfilling the partnership guidelines.

By doing so, their security deposit becomes a savings account that earns 5% interest as long as they live there. They will also receive rental rebates ranging between $50-$100/month that go into their ROOTS savings account, which also accrues 5% compounding interest throughout their rent cycle. 

A recent report by Prosperity Now shows that on average, a renter in the state of Georgia has only $650 in the bank. They are living on the edge of homelessness. They are one issue with their car or one medical issue not covered by insurance away from not being able to pay rent. These are working people, who are trying to succeed and making a good effort, but are stuck in the grind of living day to day, month to month. Until now, they have had very little chance of building a cushion of savings, much less owning real estate. They have both when they rent with Roots. Additionally, the Roots Member Platform will be providing additional benefits to the resident members like personal financial education courses, leveraged pricing on things like internet, cell phones, health insurance and more. 

ROOTS provides its residents the opportunity to not only make money, but to learn to save it; and eventually to invest it. 

For investors, this shift in making the resident a partner, rather than just another “tenant” is a big win as well. It helps to protect the asset, minimize turnover costs and lower vacancy rates. A few notable highlights about the fund:

  • ROOTS focuses on single and multi-family properties in growing communities throughout the city of Atlanta that will achieve healthy rental returns and have promising appreciation outlooks. 
  • All properties go into the fund fully curated and tenanted, so the return on investment is already established.
  • The properties are not subject to maintenance and repair costs, those are covered by the Managing Partners, which allows for even more consistent returns

Visit or email the team at [email protected] to learn more about ROOTS.

Profile Summary:

  • Entrepreneur Name(s): Steven & Hannah Simms
  • Venture Name: The Rural Urban Connection (TRUC)
  • Impact Focus Area(s): Local Food, Regenerative Agriculture, Rural Economic Development
  • Business Stage: Startup in July 2020
  • Business Type: For-Profit, Holistic Management
  • Headquarters: Dunwoody, Georgia


The Issue

Worldwide, soils have been degraded by poor farming practices causing heavy reliance on chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to prop up crop yields. A large amount of grain crops grown are used for feeding livestock. Most beef consumed is raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) with a host of negative animal welfare and environmental impacts. 100% grass-fed beef eliminates the need for CAFOs and grain-fed livestock. Using holistic management practices on our farms will eliminate the need for chemical supports while enabling the environment to create new topsoil and capture carbon in the soil. We are only able to do this with the support of our Atlanta neighbors who want to eat our healthy, local, 100% grass-fed beef.  


Your Journey

Steven grew up on one of the farms we lease and has discussed this idea off and on for some time. COVID’s impact on the economy and food supply chains inspired me to start testing and pursuing this idea seriously. We have been blessed with great advice from the UGA Small Business Development Center and Start It Up Georgia, as well as from family and friends.

In April 2021, 9 months after beginning planning and researching efforts, we had our first beef ready for sale. We leased two farms, secured USDA financing, and began selling online and at the Dunwoody and Sandy Springs Farmers Markets. We are currently working on getting the word out about our local, grass-fed beef, balancing supply and demand, and moving both farms to fully regenerative agricultural practices. Our steaks have been incredibly popular, and right now we are looking for consumers and a few select restaurant and food truck clients who want to use all the cuts from our beef.

As we mature and grow, we want to scale our business to be able to create more healthy soils, preserve farmland, and raise delicious grass-fed beef all while providing quality employment opportunities.


Why Georgia’s Social Impact Ecosystem Matters

The Social Impact Ecosystem is crucial for encouraging more social entrepreneurship in Georgia. Building connections between the Social Impact Ecosystem and the traditional startup ecosystem may be one of the most important elements in this journey. Many new entrepreneurs may not classify themselves as social enterprises but have the desire and intent to grow a company that focuses on more than the financial bottom line. All companies have a social impact and our goal as social impact community members should be to encourage all companies to ensure this impact is positive and build a better future.


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By: Franzene Minott


Home-delivered meal kit services are exploding, and it’s no wonder. The now $10 Billion global industry combines the advantages of “fast food” and “slow food” by delivering easy-to-make, healthy and delicious meals to customers’ doorsteps.

For low-income families short on time to prepare dinner and a long way from fresh, healthy ingredients, a meal kit service would be a godsend—if only it was made affordable. One Atlanta-area social venture is doing just that, by inviting customers to pay only what they can.

“We know food insecurity affects millions, especially those living in food deserts without access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” says co-founder Ali Yadollahi, “we wanted to create a system where all customers received the same high quality meal kits—regardless of income levels—by making them more affordable and accessible to those who need it.”’s mission quickly resonated with the hundreds of Atlantans they have served since launching earlier this year. With a mouth-watering selection of entrees from salmon and quinoa to sirloin steak fajitas to vegetarian options like penne primavera, the customer buzz has only amplified across Yelp! and other review sites.

The American Heart Association Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund has also taken notice of the innovative service and awarded a generous grant. The Fund supports local entrepreneurs and organizations that are breaking down the social and economic barriers to health equity, and they saw’s pay-what-you-can meal delivery model as a great way to reach underserved communities.

When asked about the new meal kit delivery service, Portfolio Manager of the Tyson Impact Fund Max Gritzuks stated, “ has taken a model that has traditionally been reserved for market-rate consumers and reinvented it in an inclusive and scalable manner that increases access to affordable, healthy food for all.”


“Pay-What-You-Can”: Reimagining the Food Service Industry

How is innovating the food service industry and attracting such a diverse customer base? 

For starters, they have no set menu prices, only a suggested price, which allows customers to pay what they can for service. This community-style service model means that paying for your meal helps pay for someone else’s. 

Their “pay-what-you-can” system provides the financial break many need to remain afloat on restricted budgets. For some, the added flexibility means paying only a few dollars—or even nothing at all—for meal kits. 

And the model has proven to be remarkably successful and self-sustaining. Despite early concerns that people may take advantage, the founders proudly share that the overwhelming majority of patrons use their services as intended without exploiting it.

“Pay-what-you-can is working and my faith in humanity, and in our Atlanta community, has been rewarded,” says co-founder Chef Hoss Yazdi. “We have been able to provide everyone who orders a wholesome, delicious meal that can usually be on the dinner table within ten minutes.”

The team believes their system works because of the value alignment between their mission and that of their customers. Their kitchens are a resource that enable people who care about helping others to make a difference. This commitment to a shared goal makes them sustainable.



Plans for Expansion is preparing to give even more Atlantans access to its kits by expanding from its Metro Atlanta service area. Since their model relies heavily on community support to be effective, they are actively sharing their mission with people, organizations, and businesses in target locations to help identify potential hot spots.

Thanks to the initial support, the social venture can continue to expand across Atlanta and serve as many communities as possible.




Interested in learning more or supporting expansion efforts, please visit:

Email: [email protected]