Amplifying Impact During A Pandemic: Our Latest Investment in Reinvestment Fund
By Anupama Tadanki, GII Managing Director 2020-21
Goizueta Impact Investors (GII) is excited to announce its latest investment of $40,000 into Reinvestment Fund, which will use the funds to support many of its projects such as national COVID-19 response as well as regional education and housing initiatives in the Southeast. This investment allows GII to join GoATL Fund, an impact investment fund operated by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, as a local donor partner.
The Case for Community-Based Lenders
It is unlikely that anybody reading this article needs a reminder of the ways in which 2020 highlighted many jarring socioeconomic inequalities in the US. Through a seemingly endless nightmare brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial injustices, a greater collective awareness developed about who has access to resources that enable economic and social wellbeing in the US. It became clear that communities of color and other underserved groups simply did not have as much access to credit as did white communities. Social media calls to support small, local, or Black-owned businesses were ubiquitous in 2020 and soon consumers began demanding that big corporations do their part too. Increasingly, these large organizations began to look towards Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for help in addressing financial inclusion.
For decades, CDFIs have been providing communities with much-needed capital to start businesses, purchase homes, develop neighborhoods, and more. In fact, once the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting workers, the US Small Business Administration and US Treasury Department set aside $10B exclusively for CDFIs to disburse Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans to alleviate economic hardships in low-income communities. Because CDFIs work so closely on the ground with people who are traditionally overlooked by large financial institutions, they play an important role in offering economic opportunity and mobility in the US.
One of the country’s oldest CDFIs, Reinvestment Fund, is a Philadelphia-based organization that brings capital to underserved entrepreneurs, organizations, and communities throughout the US. Since its founding in 1985, it has mobilized over $2.4B to improve the affordability of housing, access to nutritious food and healthcare, education, and the capacity of the local economy. In 2019, Reinvestment Fund deployed over $61M in the Southeast, creating 2,000+ seats in education, supporting 38,000+ patients, and preserving 500+ housing units. During the pandemic, it has provided funds for small businesses, disbursed PPP loans, offered emergency meal grants, and more. Reinvestment Fund has an office in Atlanta focused on its Southeast efforts to build wealth and opportunity for low income people. Specifically, Atlanta houses its Equity ATL Collaborative, which is a partnership with the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc., Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, and JPMorgan Chase, to promote and build residential and commercial markets in the area. It also supports Sheltering Arms, a 129 year-old early childhood education institute, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank, among others.
While this investment marks a departure from GII’s usual investments in early-stage and hyper-local startup social enterprises, GII believes that working with a reputable, stable CDFI during a time of great economic uncertainty is important in ensuring that its funds are distributed across several areas of need and in a sustainable way. By multiplying GII’s dollars with Reinvestment Fund’s it is more likely to be able to see success among the communities which it aims to serve. Additionally, since GII is not only a fund but also an educational organization for MBA students at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, this partnership with Reinvestment Fund allows for opportunities to learn from established impact investors. Later this month, GII will host a virtual roundtable with Yonina Gray, Reinvestment Fund’s Director of External Relations and a GBS alum.
“A partnership with Reinvestment Fund allows us to narrow the opportunity gap in Atlanta leading to long-term impact in the city.” - Sagar Soni, GII Partner 2020-2021
GII Looks Ahead
During the same month that this deal was announced, GII also closed a successful fundraising campaign, its first in several years, to replenish its fund with $15,000 to be invested by the 2021-2022 team. This came during a year when GII saw a notable increase in interest and membership from a student body that was largely virtual during the pandemic. Along with its Turner MBA Impact Investing Network Training (MIINT) competition team, GII is ready to more effectively make investments than it has ever before.
Thank you for supporting GII and we look forward to making a sustainable impact together.