Leaders from the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry, along with investors, philanthropic supporters, government agencies, and other partners recently came together in the spirit of collaboration for the CDFI Small Business Recovery Fund Summit in Atlanta, GA.
The conference – co-hosted by The Generation Foundation, Calvert Impact Capital, and Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) – provided an opportunity for CDFI stakeholders to analyze recovery funds that were established to support small businesses throughout the pandemic and discuss growth opportunities for the industry going forward.
“After years of hard work and collaboration over video calls, it’s amazing to meet with such talented people who are so passionate about making a difference in their communities and helping small businesses that are the economic backbone of this country,” said Patrick Davis, senior vice president of strategy of CRF.
“I’m proud of the work we have accomplished together the last several years and I’m excited to build on this momentum.”
In response to the pandemic, CDFIs across the country came together to launch recovery funds designed to connect small business owners to flexible, affordable capital and specialized technical assistance services. Several of these funds include The Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) Fund, The Washington Small Business Flex Fund, The California Rebuilding Fund, The New York Forward Loan Fund, and The Connecticut Small Business Boost Fund.
The two-day conference in Atlanta included breakout sessions, discussions, and presentations and touched on topics such as current limitations and constraints facing CDFIs, challenges for small business owners, growth opportunities for the CDFI industry, and lessons learned from the pandemic.
The conference also included a social hour hosted at Zocalo, a Mexican restaurant owned by Lucero Martinez who is a borrower of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), an Atlanta-based CDFI that was represented at the conference.
The CDFI Small Business Recovery Fund Summit came to a close with attendees sharing their thoughts on the conference, lessons learned through these discussions, hopes for the future, and some of the reasons why they choose to work in the CDFI industry.