Federal Fund Targets Investments in Underserved Communities

Where mainstream financial institutions fail CDFI’s give hope

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Willie Muriel got funds for his business via a Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) fund.

In 1990, when Willie Murriel received a loan from Sunrise Bank to purchase the building he used for Murriel’s Paint and Body Shop in Jackson, Miss., he never fell behind, never filed for bankruptcy, and repaid the loan as scheduled in 2001.

But in 2003, when he needed another loan to purchase equipment — a hydraulic lift and a paint booth, he was turned down by five banks despite having earned annual revenues that averaged $212,000.

“I thought [my financial history] would account for something, but it didn’t mean anything,’ said Murriel, referring to the banks’ insistence that his auto shop did not hold enough collateral and his credit score was too low to receive financing.

Murriel had given up hope, but in 2008 he encountered Ray Williams, the loan officer who approved his first loan. Williams was now employed at Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/Hope Community Credit Union, and believed that ECD could assist Murriel.  ECD/HOPE took into account that Murriel’s Body Shop had successfully served the working class, minority neighborhood since 1986 and loaned him $50,000.

ECD/HOPE helps hundreds of businesses build wealth, generate income, and employ people in areas that desperately need jobs. They accomplish this due to their membership in The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, a federal agency that provides mortgage financing for low-income and first-time homebuyers and commercial loans to small start-up or expanding businesses. The loan application process at a CDFI institution is the same as with mainstream banks. Click here for a for a list of certified CDFIs by state.

“CDFI’s provide injections of private capital into low-income communities with the ultimate goal of stimulating economic revitalization in areas that are underserved by traditional banks,” says Donna Gambrell, director of the CDFI Fund.

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