Twenty-four high-performing small business CDFIs with cumulative assets exceeding $862 million. The Small Business Finance Collaborative has collectively financed more than 7,500 small business, totaling nearly $600 million, using a diversity of business models, approaches, and geographies.

Launched in 2015 and funded by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses with additional support from Surdna Foundation, the Small Business Finance Collaborative is designed to dramatically increase small business lending in low-wealth communities in the U.S. Its members are engaged in an intensive two years of peer learning, training, and technical assistance to develop and implement a strategic growth plan to improve lending strategies and practices, and to significantly increase small business lending while maintaining asset quality.

Since it first convened, this formidable group of mission-driven lenders has become a force for small business good. Here is a look at how far they have come, and how this group is poised to grow:

Year One

After spending the first semester in an intensive training and peer learning program, Collaborative members each developed a customized—and peer reviewed and critiqued—growth plan. These plans are living, evolving document built to guide the lender’s strategic and significant growth in small business lending and practices.

In the process of implementing their plans, some organizations radically transformed the way they did their lending business. At the OFN Conference in Detroit, the collaborative met again, and participated in a conference session sharing highlights from their first year.

Year Two

Now in its second year, the group is in high collaboration mode. Topic-specific Working Groups were formed in early 2016 to focus on growth, technology, talent management, and impact. Members shared their experiences, challenges, and perspectives from the field during the 2016 Small Business Webinar series, one member of the collaborative shared that the Working Groups were instrumental to their success, “we discussed shared pain points and that made it easier to find solutions.”

Today, for the first time since last fall when we convened in Detroit, the group met face-to-face in Chicago during the annual Small Business Finance Forum to delve deeper into these themes: organizational structure and growth; technology platforms along the lending life cycle; impact data; staffing; competition; and sharing systems and processes for growth.

If you’re joining us at the Forum, make sure to seek out the Finance Collaborative members who will be among us. And consider attending the sessions where they’ll present on the Small Business Lending Landscape and Building Your Value Proposition.


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