The OFN 2017 Board Elections campaign is on! There are ten candidates for four seats on the OFN Board. Get to know each one by visiting the campaign site here.
OFN Members vote on the OFN Board at the OFN Membership Meeting on Thursday, September 28, from 8:45 AM–10:15 AM. Can’t make it to the Conference? Contact Seth Julyan to vote by proxy!
CDFI Connect spoke with Andy Posner, Founder and CEO, The Capital Good Fund, to learn more about the candidate. Check out Andy’s candidate statement here.
Tell us a little about yourself and what motivates you to keep pushing for the industry:
When the financial system nearly collapsed in 2008, I was working toward my masters in Environment Studies with a focus on energy-efficiency financing. This was obviously a big turning point in our U.S. financial system, and I learned that while financial services can do good in one sector, the financial system can fail the poor and really set them back significantly. I started researching the need for access to credit locally, and it really took on its own life.
I think financial services are a hub around which all interventions revolve. Name a social problem, and there is a financial component.
CDFIs, by our model, have the potential to generate revenue and social impact. What attracted me to this sector is the ability to build a scalable nonprofit that doesn’t have to be entirely dependent on grants and donations.
I have been doing this work for more than eight years, and what I have seen during this time is that the economic recovery is incredibly uneven. Vulnerable populations are my focus, and they aren’t seeing the benefits of recovery, but are instead left behind by mainstream lenders and scooped up by different predatory actors, like payday lenders. There is such a huge market need and opportunity, and so far, only CDFIs seem to be stepping into the breach. We are needed now more than ever.
What do you think is the most important role for OFN in the CDFI industry right now?
The two most important roles OFN serves are advocacy and convening—particularly around best practices. OFN is a platform through which we can help others learn about our small-dollar consumer loan model, for instance. On the advocacy front, CDFIs appeal to everyone. If you are on the right you see that we are market-driven; and on the left, you see that we are mission-driven.
Right now we are playing defense—protecting existing funding and programs—and that is critical, but I would like to see us “go on the offense” by advocating for increased funding and new programs.
One opportunity for OFN is to convene the regulators with the institutions they regulate. For instance, I hear regulators say they want banks to do more, and then in the next conversation, I hear CDFIs get denied capital due to regulatory concerns on the part of the banks. So there is a disconnect that OFN could step in to fill.
Also helping CDFIs connect to programs that they may not be aware of, like the Capital Access Programs at the state level. I didn’t know about this program until a bank happened to mention it to me, and thanks to the program they lent us $250,000. So OFN should play the role of informing CDFIs of financial opportunities such as these.
What will you bring to the OFN Board during the next three years?
Capital Good Fund is one of the few CDFIs that focus on small-dollar personal loans. Hopefully I can bring renewed attention to the market opportunity and the market need.
The most common reason people borrow from us are for emergency needs: vehicle purchase or repair, escaping domestic violence situations, security deposit, and covering the cost of naturalization. These loans are small but incredibly necessary. I would like to do more to encourage members to move into new product lines and adapt how they deliver existing product lines. We need to think more about making sure we are having the impact our communities need. Also, as a relatively young CDFI CEO (32 as of this writing), I hope to encourage more young people to move into the sector and emerge as leaders; doing so is critical if we are to continue to grow and innovate.
To ensure an efficient voting process, please identify your CDFI’s Voting Delegate in advance of the September 28 Membership Meeting and contact Emily Tunney with the delegate’s name. Voting Delegates will be able to pick up their ballots 30 minutes before the start of the Membership Meeting.