BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund Celebrates Two Years of Impact and Expands Partnerships with Growth Partners Arizona and Startup Tucson

Two years after launching an innovative loan fund in collaboration with leaders of color in the Tucson business community, Community Investment Corporation (CIC) and the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Community Managed Loan Fund are celebrating their 50th no-interest loan. The fund, which focuses on improving capital access to entrepreneurs of color, has made over $400,000 in loans to date across Southern Arizona.

The celebration also marks an expansion of two key partnerships with local nonprofit organizations, Growth Partners Arizona and Startup Tucson. For its part, Startup Tucson is creating the first paid position for what has, to date, been an all-volunteer management committee, while Growth Partners Arizona will be expanding the fund’s lending footprint in 2024 to central and northern Arizona through a $250,000 grant from Wells Fargo. The expansion will include targeted outreach to rural BIPOC entrepreneurs.

Growth Partners Arizona, a certified Community Development Financial Institution, recently invested $100,000 in the BIPOC Loan Fund to serve southern Arizona and have now committed another $250,000 to expand the fund’s lending footprint to the entire state. The $250,000 comes from a grant from Wells Fargo and supports the bank’s work to accelerate the growth of underserved small businesses across the country through investments that increase access to capital, expand entrepreneurial networks, and provide access to knowledge through technical assistance and capacity building resources.

This investment is a part of our larger focus to expand innovative lending programs throughout the state of Arizona. Thanks to the funding from our partners at Wells Fargo we will be able to start the new year off making a significant investment within our rural communities. As we look ahead to the future we are excited to continue to build towards a more inclusive economy.

Startup Tucson, a Tucson-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to revolutionize the Southern Arizona region’s economy through entrepreneurship and innovation, is committing part of the time of their Director of Entrepreneur Success and Access to Capital, Keneshia Raymond, to helping expand the fund’s impact. Raymond is a founding committee member of the BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund and will become the BIPOC Loan Fund’s first funded staff person.

Raymond will play a pivotal role in spearheading this initiative and expanding its reach, resources, and impact. Raymond will collaborate closely with CIC to develop comprehensive strategies, promote awareness, secure funding, and provide strong leadership to ensure the BIPOC Loan Fund’s continued growth and sustainability.

Startup Tucson recognizes the pressing need within the community for equitable and accessible access to capital for BIPOC business owners. “At Startup Tucson we champion the BIPOC Loan Fund and wholeheartedly support its mission to empower underrepresented entrepreneurs and foster a more inclusive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.” said Raymond. Raymond background includes 14 years as an entrepreneur and business coach who, in addition to her duties at Startup Tucson, runs her own online company, has raised over $8 million of investment for small businesses, and successfully exited a previous business.

“Keneshia’s experience as an entrepreneur and her leadership within the BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund has been truly exceptional,” said CIC’s Executive Director, Danny Knee. “She is forward-thinking with a vision to activate the sidelined economic power of underrepresented entrepreneurs within our community whose businesses have suffered from underinvestment.”

The BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund is an example of character-based lending, an underwriting approach through which a borrower’s personal qualities, community reputation, and other factors beyond credit scores and collateral are given greater emphasis. Its volunteer committee of BIPOC community leaders has complete authority over the loan fund including defining the application process and underwriting criteria to assess loan viability. In the loan product design phase, the committee identified specific obstacles to capital access for BIPOC communities which included distrust of the traditional financial institutions, overly complicated application processes, and banking’s over-reliance on collateral and credit scores to make loan approval determinations. A low-barrier application allows business owners to apply via video or audio as well as in writing.

“One of the largest challenges for entrepreneurs, especially BIPOC entrepreneurs, in our region is access to capital,” said said Liz Pocock, CEO, Startup Tucson. “The trailblazing work of CIC and the BIPOC Loan Fund strengthens our economy, and we couldn’t be prouder to call them a partner and support the future longevity of the Fund and its mission.”

As the BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund continues to pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable business landscape, this partnership with Startup Tucson reinforces the collective commitment to driving positive change and advancing economic empowerment in Southern Arizona. On Friday, September 15th, CIC and Startup Tucson will be hosting a 2 year Celebration of the BIPOC Loan Fund Celebration at Hotel McCoy from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Festivities will include acknowledging the programs’ milestones and partnerships, amplifying the talent and hard work of program participants, and connecting within our community.

For more information about the BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund and its partnership with Startup Tucson and Growth Partners Arizona, please visit the program website, here.

About CIC: Community Investment Corporation (CIC) is a financial empowerment nonprofit. We give the members of our community, who are shut out of and left behind in our economy, access to the knowledge and financing they need to pursue new opportunities. CIC unlocks the door to prosperity for all members of our community to meaningfully participate in our powerful but imperfect capitalist economic system and reclaim the American Dream. At CIC, WE KNOW YOUR WORTH. The system may not recognize your value, but we do. Learn more about our loan, homeownership, and school bond compliance programs at CICTucson.org.

About Startup Tucson: Startup Tucson is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to transform our region’s economy through entrepreneurship and innovation. Startup Tucson executes this mission by providing education and culture-building programs and events to grow a high-impact entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem. You can find information about the organization and upcoming opportunities to engage at startuptucson.com.

About Growth Partners Arizona: About Growth Partners Arizona Growth Partners Arizona is the largest Black-led Arizona-based CDFI that provides affordable, responsible financial products to local underserved communities. As a trusted intermediary between the public and private sectors, Growth Partner Arizona aims to achieve economic justice through forward thinking, collaborative, and inclusive approaches to capital access in Arizona. We are committed to building a more inclusive economy that works for everyone. For more information visit: growthpartnersaz.org.

CIC Launches STAC

Tucson Small Business to Have Access to $500,000 in Revenue-Based Financing Through Innovative Nonprofit Partnership

Community Investment Corporation partners with Startup Tucson, Common Future / Community Credit Lab to bring $250,000 in investments to STAC Initiative to support small businesses in Tucson.

 January 30, 2023 (Tucson, Arizona) – Local small businesses and business owners that are unable to access traditional commercial loans are getting some help from two local nonprofit organizations. Tucson-based Community Investment Corporation (CIC) and Startup Tucson, are partnering with a national leader in innovative community-based economic development work, Common Future, and their in-house investment entity, Community Credit Lab, to launch a new business financing initiative, Success Through Alternative Capital (STAC), which aims to help businesses without adequate collateral or assets to qualify from traditional loans.

Common Future is investing $250,000 in the pilot program which CIC is matching with $250,000 of its own funds. Startup Tucson, for its part of the partnership, is providing business and entrepreneurial education to support local business owners who access STAC funding. Eric Horvath, Director of Capital Strategies for Common Future explained his organization’s reason for investing in Tucson. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the trust and belief that we have in CIC and Startup Tucson,” he said. “What really stood out was the dogged determination to innovate and do something different from both organizations and to maximize how much community impact we can have.”

STAC is designed as revenue-based financing (RBF) allowing small businesses to pledge future revenues for an advance of financial capital. Payments can vary depending on how well a business does and its gross revenues after receiving funding. Businesses have higher payments when they are generating more revenues and lower payments when they are generating less revenues, an arrangement that can be especially useful for seasonal businesses.

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The revenue-based approach is being facilitated by CIC’s technology partner, Ned, which will help the lender build capacity and make loan decisions in days rather than weeks. Ned’s end-to-end revenue-based financing platform will enable CIC to streamline applications, qualification and disbursement activities, and then automate revenue-based repayments on the backend.

“Ned has been a fantastic partner for us,” said Danny Knee, Community Investment Corporation’s Executive Director. “Their platform provides efficiencies that allow us to spend our time helping businesses rather than evaluating them.”

STAC is expected to fund 25 local businesses over the next year that the program partners say will be used to purchase essential equipment, purchase inventory, and to meet the cash flow demands of running a business.

“Our economy works well for people with existing wealth,” said Knee, “But the over-reliance on asset-based lending without complementary alternatives makes it nearly impossible for many small businesses, and especially those run by entrepreneurs of color, to get the financial capital they need to grow and succeed.”

Asset-based underwriting is the practice of securing loans with the pledge of turning over a company or personal assets to a lender if a business owner is unable to repay a loan. Entrepreneurs of color have a harder time accessing traditional capital in the U.S. than their white counterparts due to persistent wealth gaps and owning fewer personal and business assets. “We are trying to find ways to make our economy more inclusive,” said Liz Pocock, CEO of Startup Tucson. “We believe revenue-based financing is a way to support emerging entrepreneurs, including entrepreneurs of color.”

Interested businesses should contact Community Investment Corporation through their website:
https://cictucson.org/stac/.

2022 In Review

Celebrating our biggest year yet!

What a year it has been indeed!

While it feels nearly impossible to condense an entire year into one newsletter, we couldn’t close 2022 without taking a look back at the highlights from this year.

Join us in celebrating CIC’s biggest year to date, and we’re just getting started!

A national leader in eviction prevention

Over the course of 2 years, we were involved in a collaborative effort to administer federal funding to prevent evictions related to the economic impact of the pandemic throughout all of Pima County. As one of the most efficient programs in the nation, CIC and our partners facilitated disbursement of all of the City of Tucson’s ERA 1 and ERA 2 funds, as well as more than $22.5 million of additional reallocated funding from the state. In June of this year, we transitioned the Eviction Prevention Program to Pima County.

Since the start of the program we distributed $64+ million in rental and utility funding, assisted over 13,500 households, landlords and helped 30,000 residents remain in housing.

We owe much of the success of the program to our dedicated and willing community partners. Private, public and nonprofit sectors as well as private citizens came together selflessly to care for one another in the face of the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. Thank you: City of TucsonFamily Housing Resources, Sunnyside Foundation, Catholic Community Services, ISDA, Tucson Urban League, Inc., Primavera Foundation, International Rescue Committee, Interfaith Community Services, Chicanos Por La CausaValley Assistance Services and Compass Affordable Housing.

Read our IMPACT REPORT

Expanded the Mortgage Credit Certificate program statewide

For 30+ years, the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program has been administered by CIC, and its sister organization, Family Housing Resources. The program reduces the cost of owning a home by allowing first-time homebuyers to claim up to $2,000 of their annual mortgage interest as a federal tax credit – each year and every year they live in their homes. This means that MCC’s can save homeowners up to $50,000+ over the life of their mortgages!

CIC has issued 7,000+ certificates to date, saving Arizona homeowners millions of dollars and this year, we expanded the program statewide! We look forward to empowering future homeowners throughout the state of Arizona. Check out this short video that explains how this important program works.

Learn more at: cictucson.org/mcc

The BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund for Small Business Owners continues to grow!

Since launching the BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund program, we’ve received 100+ applications, with requests for $700,000+ to help long underserved entrepreneurs of color in Southern Arizona grow their businesses and thrive. 

We were thrilled to share that in 2022 we fundraised over $100,000 to support this program. The revolving fund that started with just $2,700 in donations from CIC’s own staff  now sits at $380,000 and has helped 26 small businesses in Southern Arizona.

This funding is critical to our mission’s success and helped us get closer to our goal of building the fund to $1 million by 2025.

Check out this short video to learn more about this program.

CIC Tucson was named Social Impact Champion of the Year!

We were honored to be recognized by the selection committee of the Tucson Metro Chamber Copper Cactus Awards as this year’s TEP Social Impact Copper Cactus Champion. This is the second time in three years, CIC has earned this recognition and it is one of the only times that a nonprofit has been honored with a Copper Cactus Award three years in a row (we were named the regions Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion in 2021 for the launch of our BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund).

While we don’t do this work for the awards, this was a special moment to stop and celebrate everyone who has contributed to making our programs worthy of recognition; most notably, the community’s best and most accomplished social service agencies who partnered with us for the Eviction Prevention program. Thank you to the City of TucsonFamily Housing Resources, Sunnyside Foundation, Catholic Community Services, ISDA, Tucson Urban League, Inc., Primavera Foundation, International Rescue Committee, Interfaith Community Services, Chicanos Por La CausaValley Assistance Services and Compass Affordable Housing

This program would not have been possible without the deep commitment of the highly skilled staff at the nonprofit organizations & government entities.

2022 brought an amazing year of success and impact for CIC, none of which would have been possible without the collaboration and support of trusted partners. We resolve to fill the coming year with opportunities and prosperity for all residents of Southern Arizona.

– Danny Knee and the CIC Team

CIC’s Homeownership Team Has Been Busy!

Have You Seen Us Lately?

Community Investment Corporation’s (CIC) Homeownership Team has been busy!

CIC is now the only organization facilitating the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program for the entire State of Arizona. We have been out and about to spread the word and help homebuyers in all counties purchase a home.

Did you miss the August MCC info session?

Watch the recording on YouTube!

Recent Wins!

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of everyday life and forget how impactful our work is, so we want to share some positive news with you.

  • In mid-August, the max benefit for the Essential Worker grant DOUBLED to $5,000.
  • The number of households receiving the Essential Worker grant fund is increasing; 16 Essential Workers became homeowners in August.
  • We just added a new easy-to-use map to our website that makes finding target areas for the MCC program effortless. Take a look!
  • MSN.com featured CIC and the MCC program in A first-time homebuyer’s guide to Arizona.

Did you know homebuyers can use the MCC IN ADDITION TO other programs like Down Payment Assistance and the Essential Worker’s Fund? These programs not only bring homeownership within reach for some first-time homebuyers, they increase the buying power, which benefits the homeowner, the realtor, and the lender. It is truly a win-win-win situation!

Sign up for the last Mortgage Credit Certificate info session we’re hosting this year!

📅 Wednesday, November 9
⌚ 1-2 p.m.
💻 Zoom

CIC is Lighting the Night

Join CIC in bringing light to the darkness of cancer!

Community Investment Corporation (CIC) is proud to partner with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) for Light The Night! We are fundraising for the cause, and will be lighting the night in Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The Tucson team will be Lighting the Night on October 22.

We hope that you join us!

As a nonprofit, especially one focused on boosting our community, we are passionate about partnering with other nonprofits who also do good in the community.

That is why CIC will match donations up to $250 PER PERSON!

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Why are we doing this?

CIC is a nonprofit dedicated to financial empowerment. We believe no person who has to undergo cancer treatments should be financially paralyzed in the process. Life-saving treatment should not come at such a high monetary cost for the patients and we are hoping our efforts will ease that burden.

If you want to support LLS and Light the Night but are not able to make it to the walk, consider making a contribution on the CIC team’s fundraising page! Thank you for supporting us and our partners!