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Commitment to Launch National CDFI Academy

CAMEO has committed at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2022 Meeting today to launch a National Community Development Financial Institution Academy (CDFI) Academy that will provide professional training and resources to thousands of CDFI staff members.

CDFIs earned their place on the national stage when they ensured that entrepreneurs of color had access to government pandemic programs such as the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. The Department of the Treasury backed them up with a $3 billion investment and many private companies have pledged large sums to individual CDFIs. This loan capital was crucial to ensuring the recovery and resiliency of the country’s underserved entrepreneurs. Treasury Secretary Yellen has said that business ownership is a key strategy in wealth building. If CDFIs are to continue growing and help close the racial wealth gap, they need the internal capacity to meet the increased demand.

CDFIs around the nation need robust training specific to their mission-driven lending work that focuses on delivering responsible small-dollar loans to small business owners, particularly those in underserved communities. However, few, if any, courses exist to provide CDFI-specific skill development for all levels of staff.

To address this issue, CAMEO committed at CGI to provide microlending best practices information, education, and training to more than 5,000 staff members of more than 400 CDFIs over three years. CAMEO anticipates that this professional training will allow CDFIs to increase their lending five-fold—deploying $500 million to 20,000 entrepreneurs over the three-year commitment period. 

“CDFIs proved their worth during the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering timely capital that helped many small businesses, particularly those in underserved communities, survive. It opened the eyes of many to the reach and impact these lenders have and, as a result, many CDFIs have received historic investments of loan capital for increased lending,” said CAMEO CEO Carolina Martinez, who attended the event in New York. “Now it’s time to invest in the human capital of these nonprofit lenders to ensure they can scale their operations to help as many underserved small business owners as possible. CAMEO’s National CDFI Academy will increase retention and allow CDFIs to compete with banks and fintech in recruiting the best and brightest to the industry.” 

CAMEO will partner on the project with Appalachian Community Capital (ACC), led by Donna Gambrell, a former CDFI Fund Director. ACC is a membership network of 30 CDFIs in 13 states which has invested $20 million in micro/small business CDFIs. 

“We are thrilled to make this announcement at CGI to advance our longstanding commitment to support entrepreneurs and create a thriving ecosystem of resources for all small businesses,” Martinez said. “By helping CDFIs overcome the challenges of growth, we can increase their reach and boost the positive impact they have on the country’s small business.”