Recently Impact Alpha published an article by Joe Neri, CEO of OFN member IFF, entitled "Five Ways That Lenders Can Interrupt Racism and Provide Restorative-Justice Capital in Our Communities." In the article, Neri encourages CDFI leaders and practitioners to look at their organizations and do more to become anti-racist and help create justice in their communities. He recommends the following five actions:
- Start with your people, your organization.
- Stop extracting wealth.
- Interrogate products, services, and practices.
- Engage (and invest) in a continuum of activities.
- Refuse to ask for permission.
Neri notes in the article that, during a virtual 2020 OFN Conference panel last fall about how CDFIs can create new products that interrupt decades of racism, participant comments in the chat box were primarily concerned with what investors would think. He urges CDFIs to move away from that mode of thinking and back towards the kind of bold thinking that got CDFIs started.
"I believe CDFIs can educate investors on 'real' versus perceived risks based on our implicit biases about people and places — the 'smog' of racism we all breathe," Neri says. "We need to encourage our investors to get on the journey with us, but we cannot wait for permission."
Read the full article on IFF's website.