CDFI’s: Seed Capital for American Business
Community Development Financial Institutions, CDFI or CDFIs, help American businesses establish themselves and provide economic opportunities for both employees of assisted companies as well as the communities they serve.
One of the nation’s leading CDFIs is DRI and managed by Steven Kirsch, COO. But how does a CDFI actually work in practice to help businesses grow? “There are several success stories we can point to, but two of them stand out, at least for me personally,” stated Kirsch. “DRIFund (DRIfund.com) goes beyond just running the numbers on a particular scenario but really gets to know the people involved and the goals they have.”
JW Soloman Associates
One example is a company called JW Soloman Associates. The owner of this small company started out as a handyman and is a veteran of the armed forces. While there was work to be found and jobs were relatively frequent, his lack of licensing kept the higher paying jobs at bay. The bigger jobs required a contractor’s to be licensed. DRIFund was made aware of the situation and offered to help. The goal was to get licensed but the funds to obtain the license were limited.
DRIFund suggested to Mr. Soloman that he could help find a loan to get his business started by taking the necessary classes needed to get his general contractor’s license. Mr. Soloman agreed and an arrangement was made to fund Mr. Soloman’s venture. Today, JW Soloman Associates is thriving all with the help of DRIFund and Mr. Soloman’s promise.
Motor City Grounds Crew
“Another success story I always like to share involves a non-profit by the name of Motor City Grounds Crew,” said Kirsch. Motor City Grounds Crew’s mission is to improve the appearance and maintain parks and neighborhoods in the city of Detroit. Mowing, manicuring and maintaining selected parks adopted by Motor City Grounds Crew helps stabilize and revitalize neglected community parks and public areas.
When Motor City was first formed, they received a contract from the City of Detroit to address neglected public parks and vacant lots throughout the Detroit area. Specifically in closed public schools. The contract would have an immediate impact on Motor City’s business, but they needed equipment to provide services to the city. There weren’t enough funds immediately available to finance the purchase of the necessary tools and equipment. Motor city had their first major contract in hand, but they were stymied due to the current lack of funds.
That’s when DRI stepped in. DRI reviewed the contract along with an estimate of how much capital would be needed to properly equip Motor City Grounds Crew so they could move forward. DRI provided the necessary funding to buy the equipment so the company could fulfill its obligations. “DRI stepped in and provided us with the financing we were looking for and we were able to execute on the project immediately,” stated the Founder of Motor City Grounds Crew.
Today, Motor City Grounds Crew is a thriving non-profit organization and with the assistance of community volunteers and neighborhood residents. The parks are clean, safe and maintained. Parks that were rarely used due to their condition are now home to Little League games, playground equipment and community gatherings.
“When we see the impact it has on people’s lives, our Micro Loans are worth every bit of effort,” says Kirsch. These are just two examples of the how DRI impacts the local community. “Yes, we’re in business to provide financing to those most in need, but what we ultimately do is bring communities together once again,” says Kirsch.