Small Business Leader Award

  • Rewarding accelerated growth and excellence in small business lending.

 

Overview

The Small Business Leader Award for Mission-Driven Lenders (SBLA) recognizes innovation and growth in mission, impact, and financial sustainability among mission-driven small business lenders. Now in its third year, the national award rewards excellence, builds broad-based recognition, and creates momentum among CDFIs and other mission-driven lenders.

In 2016, the SBLA Selection Committee selected four awardees from the highly selective Small Business Finance Collaborative, a group of small business lenders who have worked together over the past two years to develop and implement ambitious growth plans for small business lending:

The 2016 awards highlight the best among these winning strategies for growth, impact, and innovation.

Learn more about this year's winners.

Check out press coverage of the awards here.

SELECTION COMMITTEE

The Small Business Leader Award Selection Committee will work together to assess the qualifications and merits of the nominees relative to the selection criteria, and select the 2016 award recipients. The members of the 2016 Selection Committee are:

  • Phillip Henderson, President, Surdna Foundation
  • Dan Nissenbaum, Managing Director, Urban Investment Group, Goldman Sachs
  • Donna Gambrell, Consultant and former Director of the CDFI Fund
  • Patricia Green, Paul T. Babson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies, Babson College
  • Noel Poyo, Executive Director, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB)
  • Fran Lutz, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN)

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2016 SBLA Winners

2016 Small Business Leader Award Winners

On October 26, 2016, at the OFN Annual Conference in Atlanta, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, the Surdna Foundation, and OFN awarded the 2016 Small Business Leader Award to four outstanding lenders for their transformative and innovative growth strategies:

A $50,000 grant will be shared among the awardees.

In addition to their remarkable strategies for growth, innovation, and impact, all winners demonstrated excellence in financial sustainability as well as mission and impact.

Read more about the 2016 Awardees below.

Accion, serving Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas – Albuquerque, NM

Accion, serving Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, is an award winning nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the tools entrepreneurs need to operate, grow or start their business. Accion increases access to business credit, make loans and provide training to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams and to help businesses thrive.

The 2016 Selection Committee recognized Accion for growing their small business lending reach and developing innovative approaches to serving low-income communities and communities of color. Accion expanded to serve Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, and created a new product as a direct response to predatory merchant cash advance loans, utilizing internal technology improvements and innovation to increase efficiencies, streamline processes, and meet growing customer needs.

Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF) – Raleigh, NC

Carolina Small Business Development Fund, previously known as The Support Center, fosters economic development in underserved communities by providing capital, business services, and policy research to support small businesses.

The 2016 Selection Committee recognized Carolina Small Business for developing a range of products, underwriting approaches, and technical assistance programs designed to most effectively reach and entrepreneurs of color and women borrowers. CSBDF also transformed its business model to become a lender with an emphasis on reaching underserved small business borrowers.

Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) – Minneapolis, MN

Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF), a national non-profit, helps change the lives of people living in economically disadvantaged communities. CRF provides capital to communities through its network of lending partners, investors, and contributors to create jobs and turn struggling neighborhoods into flourishing communities.

The 2016 Selection Committee recognized CRF for creating an innovative industry-wide technology solution to better serve disinvested communities. CRF’s leadership in modelling a high-level of collaboration will incent other CDFIs to use these tools to create their own efficiencies.

Montana & Idaho CDC (MICDC) – Missoula, MT

Montana & Idaho CDC provides financing and consulting services to entrepreneurs and small business owners across Montana and Idaho, as well as affordable housing solutions in both states. MICDC continues to expand its services where needed while staying true to their mission of transforming lives and strengthening community prosperity.

The 2016 Selection Committee recognized MICDC for the strategic transformation of their lending operations and business model to become smarter, faster, and better. MICDC developed an innovative customer-centric approach to underwriting loans, creating a self-sustaining loan fund that will simultaneously move borrowers more quickly on the “path to bankability.”

2015 SBLA Winner

On November 11, 2015, at the OFN Annual Conference in Detroit, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, the Surdna Foundation, and OFN awarded a $50,000 SBLA grant to Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda). The SBLA selected the CDFI for its proven track record of helping entrepreneurs of color grow and create jobs.

Also at the Conference, the two SBLA finalists—Pathway Lending and PIDC Community Capital—received recognition for their growth-driven small business lending programs. Like the winner, both finalists demonstrated excellence in financial sustainability (financial performance and asset quality), as well as mission and impact.

2014 SBLA Winners

On October 16, 2014, at the OFN Annual Conference in Denver, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, the Surdna Foundation, and OFN awarded the first SBLA grants. Totaling $100,000, the grants went to two mission-driven financial institutions for excellence in small business lending.

The New York Business Development Corporation, the first-place winner, won $75,000 for the breadth and depth of its small business lending activities in New York. Opportunity Fund, the runner-up, won $25,000 in recognition of its innovative small business lending products in California.

Also at the Conference, the two finalists—Business & Community Lenders of Texas and Bridgeway Capital—received recognition for their innovative small business lending programs.

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