Having supported small businesses in San Francisco’s Mission for almost five decades gives you a unique perspective on the needs of ventures owned and operated by immigrants and a community of color. There’s the need for capital. The need for learning the rules of money in this country. And, most of all, the need for equity. The latter has led to MEDA’s CDFI, Fondo Adelante, joining a partnership to disburse monies of the Racial Equity Lens (REL) Fund.
It took a collective effort to make the REL Fund a reality for BIPOC-owned small businesses. Such access to capital was critical once federal, state and local pandemic emergency 0%-interest loans sunsetted in the initial quarter of this year.
“We truly appreciate this collaborative effort to support small businesses,” said MEDA Associate Director of Lending Innovations & Operations Pablo Solares, who co-designed the REL Fund in fall 2021 with partners. “It was integral to the program’s launch that Self-Help Federal Credit Union offered a $100K grant to MEDA and all participating CDFIs, with the The California Endowment (TCE) providing the original, one-year grant to Self-Help to create the CA Coalition, out of which the REL Fund was born. Plus, we thank CA I-Bank for backing this program with an 80% guarantee – also vital to making the new REL Fund possible.”
Additionally, the Fondo Adelante team put its well-honed financial acumen and project management design skills into play, which was instrumental in determining the cost/benefit of the guarantee and available loan capital to use.
Our nonprofit’s Fondo Adelante CDFI and Business Development teams have jointly been working with applicants to determine those who cannot qualify for a traditional loan, but can be approved for an REL Fund loan. Eligibility is based upon the venture’s ongoing commitment to technical assistance with MEDA. Part of the requirements for receiving the loan is to attend technical assistance sessions from MEDA’s Business Development team.
It’s all about supporting our BIPOC-owned small businesses, as MEDA has done since its inception way back in 1973.