Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are private financial institutions dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help underserved people and communities join the economic mainstream. More than 1,000 CDFIs are at work in all 50 states.
There are gaps across America — gaps in employment, housing, education, health care, access to banking services — where mainstream finance doesn’t reach or cannot lend. That’s where CDFIs come in. CDFIs leverage capital from banks, foundations, corporations, and government agencies. CDFIs provide technical assistance and finance to transform neighborhoods by creating jobs, sparking small businesses, building affordable housing, expanding community facilities, supporting quality education, and nurturing consumer health.
CDFIs began doing the work of providing responsible, affordable finance where it is needed most in 1973. We’ve grown from early lenders that were primarily funded by individuals and faith-based investment to a more than $150 billion industry that continues to grow to meet the need.
During the Great Recession from 2008 to 2015 CDFIs joined other mission lenders to fill the void left when mainstream finance pulled back. Our consistently low loan loss rates demonstrate that our approach is effective and successful in the markets we serve, both for investors and borrowers, no matter what economic conditions are at work.
Front and Center
CDFIs are catalysts for finance in hard to serve markets. We leverage different sources of capital and make it easier for philanthropists, impact investors, and diverse federal funders to make the biggest impact where it matters most.
CDFIs are place-based, and in every state. CDFIs create healthy partnerships between communities, supporters, and developers to build affordable housing and vital community facilities. CDFIs work with mission-focused community-based partners to support small business development and growth and boost local economies. CDFIs help individuals get on the path to successful borrowing to start or grow a business, buy a home, build savings, and more. Wherever we are found, CDFIs use local knowledge and financing acumen to help individuals and communities thrive.
More to Do
CDFIs are committed to trying to solve today’s pressing issues: persistent poverty in rural and Native communities; obstacles to minority-led small business lending; and access to fair and responsible finance for all people. There is more to do, and we are here to stay and do more as we grow this industry.