Today, the Knowledge Network of the Diverse Community Capital program met in person for the first time at the Small Business Finance Forum in Chicago. The Knowledge Network of 19 CDFIs launched in March 2016 to document best practices and develop replicable strategies for CDFIs striving to increase lending to diverse small business owners. The participating CDFIs demonstrate a strong understanding of the markets that they serve and the capital and capacity gaps for diverse small businesses.

In the first round of the Social Capital program, we are exploring strategies in three working groups focusing on the topics of:

  • Marketing and Outreach—CDFIs in this working group have expertise in identifying and reaching their markets with defined outreach strategies, strong partnerships, cultural and diversity awareness, and well-designed marketing campaigns characterize the CDFIs participating in this working group.

  • Tailored Products—CDFIs offering market-specific products, scalable technical assistance programs, and asset building products are discussing how offering the right products for their market have helped them increase lending to diverse small business owners.

  • Underwriting—CDFIs in this working group have found ways to streamline their underwriting process to get capital to small businesses quickly and have changed their underwriting guidelines to assess credit and repayment capacity in new ways. They are exploring practices such as considering nontraditional forms of collateral or placing greater emphasis on projected business cash flow.

OFN is administering the Social Capital program which includes the Knowledge Network to build effective support networks and social infrastructure among CDFIs focused on serving diverse business owners. To extend their expertise beyond the Knowledge Network, we will be finding ways to share these best practices with the industry throughout the multi-year Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program. That effort began with three CDFIs presenting aspects of their Underwriting strategies at the Learnings from the Diverse Community Capital Program session of the Small Business Finance Forum this morning.

Who is involved?

19 CDFIs are participating in the Diverse Community Capital Knowledge Network:

  • Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (GA)

  • Albina Opportunities Corporation (OR)

  • Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF)

  • Bridgeway Capital, Inc. (PA)

  • Community Investment Corporation (IL)

  • CommunityWorks (SC)

  • Craft3 (WA)

  • ECDC Enterprise Development Group (VA)

  • Forward Community Investments, Inc. (WI)

  • Hope Enterprise Corporation (MS)

  • Main Street Launch (CA)

  • Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MN)

  • Montana & Idaho Community Development Corporation (MT)

  • Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc. (WV)

  • Pacific Community Ventures (CA)

  • Pathway Lending (TN)

  • Self-Help (NC)

  • The Support Center (NC)

  • The Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WI)


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