After their first year as members of Rise Economy’s inaugural Resilience Fund Program, participants reflect on their struggles and successes during the program

A group of people posing for a photo in front of a brick wall.

Rise Economy’s inaugural Resilience Fund cohort has placed itself at the forefront of programs working to build a new crop of BIPOC-led Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The program has been instrumental for several California-based organizations to move closer toward achieving CDFI status, grow the capacity of start-up CDFIs, develop internal capacity-building programs and build new pathways toward economic equity.

The 11-member cohort is now just a few months shy of completing the two-year program.

The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, Inclusive Action For The City and First Community Capital shared their challenges and successes, as the more established cohort members, having obtained their CDFI status shortly before joining the cohort, while reflecting on their experiences as cohort members.

First Community Capital

First Community Capital (FCC) has been a CDFI serving Riverside and San Bernardino County since 2019, focusing on underserved, rural and environmentally-distressed communities.

Several businesses were able to thrive in conjunction with FCC’s Resilience Fund success including Hair by Franchelle, a BIPOC and woman-owned hair and beauty business that received technical assistance and capital that allowed the business to expand.

“The owner had dreams of expanding her business to a salon with supplies and hair available for purchase. We were able to help her business with its financial needs, guidelines, and resource,” shared Jay Dialo, president of FCC. “Now, she is planning to show for a larger salon.

On top of assisting businesses to achieve even footing, the Resilience Fund enabled FCC to expand from eight to nearly 40 loans in their pipeline, use allocated capital to support and hire existing and new employees, develop key relationships with funders and fellow cohort members and increase lending activities.

Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation

The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation (FAHF) is a community builder. Whether it’s working with CBA, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB), and Wells Fargo or welcoming new organizations like the Candide Group into the fold, FAHF knows that the key to helping communities is connecting communities.

“Based on participation, our last three workshops were very informative and beneficial,” said Yurubi Ramiez, Director of Corporate Relations.

FAHF, which also joined the Resilience Fund Cohort as an established CDFI, was able to secure capital for NALCAB and USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). During its time as a cohort member, FAHF started to include credit counseling to its small business loan applicants, which although delayed the turnaround time for applications, could reduce risk and improve portfolio performance.

Since 2004, the organization has worked to support Hispanic-owned businesses in the Central Valley, including D’s Kenpo Karate, a martial arts studio headquartered in the community of Sanger.

Transitioning out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the business owner, Arnulfo Diaz Jr., saw an opportunity to grow his already dedicated client base. He approached FAHF who was able to assist him with a $10,000 micro-loan and a $2,500 micro-grant to support his purchase of new equipment and supplies. The loan, according to Diaz Jr., will help him provide high-quality services while “encouraging strength, leadership, confidence, and self-discipline in a family-oriented and drug-free environment.”

Inclusive Action For The City

Inclusive Action For The City (IAC), an organization using policy change and fierce on-the-ground organizing since 2008 to protect marginalized workers and low-income tenants in Los Angeles, brought years of nonprofit CDFI experience to the Resilience Fund Program.

As a Resilience Fund Cohort member, IAC established two loan programs, a small business grant program and a rent relief program, to further add to their track record of increasing access to capital for Los Angeles-based small businesses owned by marginalized communities.

“At Inclusive Action, we believe in prioritizing our clients whenever possible for catering and other services,” said Maribel Garcia, Lending Director. “It’s a way for us to connect clients to new business opportunities and help them grow their revenue.”

One of those clients is Miguel Angel Alfaro, who opened his restaurant Mi Linda Guanajuato in 2020 and sought out a small business loan from IAC. Since then, he’s served as a small business COVID-19 vaccine ambassador for IAC to help educate Los Angeles about COVID-19 vaccines and received two small business loans to support his business.

Further, IAC doubled its economic development team, collaborated with ally organizations California Community Economic Development Association (CCEDA) and the California Association For Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO) to expand their micro-lending capacity and honed in on the direction of its loan fund.