Northwestern Mutual has invested $5 million in two Milwaukee-based, Black-led Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
According to a Northwestern Mutual release, the 2021 Black Business Open Spotlight states that 56 percent of Black entrepreneurs say access to capital is an obstacle limiting their ability to grow their businesses. Northwestern Mutual’s investment is helping close those gaps in the Milwaukee area by working with local Black CDFIs Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC) and the Legacy Redevelopment Corporation (LRC).
“Northwestern Mutual has a legacy of investing in the communities we proudly serve, particularly in our hometown of Milwaukee,” Ray Manista, the company’s executive vice president and chief legal and compliance officer said in a statement. “Black and African American business owners, for a variety of reasons, have had limited access to traditional financial markets, and this latest investment will deepen our mission to make a bold and long-term impact that drives access and equity.”
The investment is also part of Northwestern Mutual’s Sustained Action For Racial Equity (SARE) task force which started a $100 million impact fund directing investments to Black and African American communities across the country.
According to Northwestern Mutual, Black-owned businesses in Milwaukee are denied loans at more than twice the rate of White businesses. Without access to capital, businesses in underserved communities are unable to gain the resources needed to grow their businesses and communities. CDFIs and small Black-owned banks fill those gaps and Northwestern Mutual’s investment will provide existing Black businesses with the financial solutions need to grow.
LRC president and CEO Terese Caro is the only U.S. Treasury-certified CDFI with a focus on housing and real estate in Milwaukee. NSWCDC, led by Executive Director Willie Smith, works with businesses in the Milwaukee area to build stronger neighborhoods and create economic growth. Both are excited to work with Northwestern Mutual to help Black entrepreneurs to continue to grow Black businesses in Milwaukee.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Northwestern Mutual and provide much-needed loans to local, Black and African American-owned businesses,” Caro said in a statement. “This partnership will change the trajectory of LRC and NWSCDC in terms of what we’ll be able to do and the communities we’ll be able to impact.”