Small Business Leader Award

  • Rewarding accelerated growth and excellence in small business lending.



The Small Business Leader Award for Mission-Driven Lenders (SBLA) is the first-ever award to recognize innovation and growth in mission-driven small business lenders. In its second year, the national award the award honors accelerated growth and excellence in mission, impact, and financial sustainability.

In 2015, from a competitive pool of nominations, the SBLA Selection Committee chose Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda) for its excellence in small business lending. Learn more about this year’s winner and finalists.

The SBLA is a collaboration among Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, the Surdna Foundation, and OFN. Contact for more information.


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sBLA Winners and Finalists

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 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.

Read more about the 2015 Awardee and finalists below.


Meda has increased small business lending by more than 200% in the past three years and focuses all of its lending to entrepreneurs of color who have historically had a lack of access to capital.

The SBLA Selection Committee recognized the nonprofit, which holds as its mission helping entrepreneurs of color succeed, for its portfolio of services and programs that address these barriers; demonstrated growth in small business lending overall, including loan originations; and outstanding financial performance and sustainability, including high asset quality, self-sufficiency ratio, and positive operating results.

The CDFI works hard to assist sustainable minority owned employers that create quality jobs. Meda's small business loans have created or retained nearly 8,000 jobs, of which 52 percent are held by people of color. Eighty-five percent of Meda's borrowers have been able to provide employees a level of income at or above the living wage. The organization's success is a direct response to the implicit bias in the market that creates barriers for diverse business owners.

In 2014, using $4.9 million of its own capital, the organization secured an additional $20.8 in financing. Leveraging its CDFI capital, currently at 6:1, is a performance measure for the organization. As each client business develops and grows a mainstream banking relationship, Meda’s capital is returned to revolve again and meet the needs of its clients. 

Pathway Lending and PIDC Community Capital—Finalists

Pathway Lending, based in Tennessee, was created in December 1999 to increase access to capital for those disadvantaged businesses unable to access traditional financing. In May 2001, the organization was certified as a CDFI.

Its mission is to provide underserved small businesses with lending solutions and educational services that result in job creation and economic development.

Since its inception, Pathway Lending has grown to more than $27 million in assets. As of June 1, 2010, it has made more than 450 loans to more than 350 companies totaling more than $40 million and has created more than 1,500 new jobs while retaining another 3,200 jobs in Tennessee.

The SBLA Selection Committee chose Pathway Lending as a Finalist for its:

  • Commitment to strategically leverage financing and lending expertise to develop new partnerships and programs that meet regional market needs
  • Creation of the Women’s Business Center
  • Providing organizational support to an emerging Knoxville Urban League-led CDFI
  • Offering an accounts receivable product for African-American and other underserved businesses
  • Leadership role in regional and local capital initiatives, including Appalachian Community Capital and Memphis CDFI Collaborative
  • 83 percent increase in small business lending (2012-14)  

PIDC Community Capital builds sustainable neighborhoods, revitalizes business corridors, and supports business by making investments that create jobs, grow businesses, leverage outside capital, eliminate blight, and provide goods and services to low-income communities throughout Philadelphia.

The CDFI’s target market includes an investment area that comprises roughly 72 percent of city’s census tracts and includes a targeted population of African American-owned businesses. This means that PIDC Community Capital must direct 60 percent or more of its CDFI lending activity to a combination of investment areas and to African American-owned businesses located in Philadelphia.

The SBLA Selection Committee chose PIDC Community Capital as a Finalist for its:  

  • Work with the City of Philadelphia to ensure lending products meet local small business needs
  • Offering of Contract Lines of Credit that are oriented to small, minority-, women-, and disabled-owned businesses and Capital Project Loans, in which bank partners providing 50 percent of financing and PIDC the other half
  • Commitment to job creation and community revitalization in low-income communities and financing to minority- and women-owned businesses that has doubled since 2012
  • 1:1 TA, workshops to borrowers, and networking events
  • 105 percent increase in small business lending (2012-14)  




The Small Business Leader Award Selection Committee worked together to assess the qualifications and merits of the nominees relative to the selection criteria, and selected the award recipients. For 2015, they were:

  • Phillip Henderson, President, Surdna Foundation
  • Dan Nissenbaum, Director, CRA Programs, 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)
  • Mark Pinsky, President and CEO, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN)



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