CAMEO has been awarded $2 million from Citi Foundation’s Community Finance Innovation Fund. With the new funding, CAMEO will launch the country’s first Shared Services Center for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which will help the mission-driven lenders strengthen their organizations to serve growing small business demand for their services.
“CDFIs proved their worth as economic first responders during the Covid-19 pandemic, helping many small businesses, particularly those in underserved communities, survive. As a result, many CDFIs have received historic investments of loan capital for increased CDFI lending without corresponding investments for the infrastructure they need to scale their operations to increase lending,” said CAMEO CEO Carolina Martinez. “ CAMEO’s Shared Services Center will create a first-of-its-kind resource for CDFIs aimed at helping them increase their internal capacity so they can make more loans to more small businesses.”
CAMEO will launch the Shared Services Center later this year to offer emerging and mid-sized CDFIs a centralized resource to build their human resources, IT and finance capabilities.
“Investing in Community Development Finance Institutions has been a long-time priority,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Head of Citi Community Investing and Development. “Through this new initiative, the Foundation is deepening this commitment by investing in the groundbreaking ideas that will help scale the community finance sector through innovation and capacity building.”
CAMEO is excited to partner with an initial group of CDFIs in California and Florida to launch the program that includes Working Solutions, Pacific Community Ventures, Accessity, Access Plus Capital, Palm Beach County Black Business Investment Corporation and Pathway Capital Funding, Inc.
Emerging and mid-sized CDFIs struggle to retain and grow their teams. This initiative will help alleviate those pressures and allow them to better serve a growing demand for their services and reach more underserved small businesses, especially those owned by entrepreneurs of color.
“As a mid-sized CDFI with significant year-over-year growth, Working Solutions is excited to participate in the Shared Services Center initiative. We have an established track record of small business lending in the communities that we serve, and through strategic partnerships like these that help to expand our internal capacity, we can scale our lending to under-resourced small businesses even more significantly over the next few years,” said Sara Razavi, CEO of Working Solutions CDFI
“We are thrilled to receive this grant from Citi Foundation 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.”