At a Clinton Foundation conference marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the creation of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, business and civic leaders pledge to unlock economic opportunity in distressed and underserved areas and promote entrepreneurship and small business growth.
Commitments announced at the Economic Inclusion and Growth: The Way Forward conference in Little Rock include a pledge by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity to help small business owners who don't qualify for traditional bank loans access approximately $250 million in capital and a commitment by Inclusiv (formerly the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions) to invest $45 million in credit unions serving low-income communities and communities of color across the South.
Other commitments included a pledge by the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance to invest $100 million in Puerto Rico to promote economic growth and increase access to good jobs; a commitment by the National Community Investment Fund to capitalize its Credit Strategies Fund, increasing the amount of impact capital available through anchor CDFIs and minority banks; and a commitment by Pacific Community Ventures to provide fifteen hundred small businesses with free business advice. In addition, the Financial Health Network will issue recommendations for financial services providers, policy makers, and regulators based on its finding that only 29 percent of Americans qualify as financially healthy, with persistent disparities by income, age, gender, and race; the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator pledged to provide guaranteed funding to startups deploying clean technology programs in disadvantaged communities and create a platform for sharing best practices; and the Community Development Bankers Association and Partners for the Common Good will launch an initiative to build the capacity of the CDFI banking sector to measure, assess, and communicate their impact, with a focus on promoting equity and inclusion for low-income and minority communities.
Five CDFI trade organizations — Opportunity Finance Network, CDBA, AEO, CDVCA, and First Nations Oweesta Corporation — issued joint commitments to advocate for increasing annual federal appropriations for the CDFI Fund to $1 billion within five years, and to support the creation of federal tax incentives that promote private investment in CDFIs.
"When you think about what has always been at the core of America's stability — it's diversity," said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "It's because individuals, communities, cities, states, and the federal government were looking toward the future. CDFIs embody this philosophy, lifting individuals, businesses, and communities through cooperation and bringing everybody to the table."