who work in Community Development Financial Institutions share a
dedication to the mission of helping poor communities, but they
come from a wide variety of backgrounds. People from two seemingly
opposite backgrounds are often found working together in CDFIs:
social activists and former bankers.
Many people who manage CDFIs have been community organizers and
political activists their entire adult lives. They see lending as
a way to achieve the same social goals they previously pursued in
the political arena. Many of these founding CDFI managers had little
formal training in economics and accounting and had to learn as
in an inner-city neighborhood, I saw that the issue of capital
was critical, and that it was an issue that often was avoided.
While civic organization and civic power are fundamental to
social change, capital is also."
Jeremy Nowak, The Reinvestment Fund
was a commercial lender for four years. Some of the most
important things I know I learned from bankers. I think
bankers are underappreciated. But, they don't do what CDFIs
do. Banks look at historical performance. We look at future
Grossman, Cascadia Revolving Fund
Increasingly, CDFIs are attracting people who have degrees in economics
and experience working in conventional financial institutions. This
group of CDFI managers is often looking for a chance to do work
that is more meaningful and more rewarding than traditional banking.
Their technical knowledge, combined with the hard-won practical
experience of the CDFI founders, gives CDFIs an organizational strength
that is unequaled in conventional banking.