About the topic: Community Partnership Lending is an exciting program that has the potential to help low-income individuals and business owners, strengthen community resources, and facilitate local investment. Alternatives Federal Credit Union developed this lending model over 15 years ago in order to partner with an array of not-for-profit organizations and agencies and is now beginning to explore its use for small business lending as well, with Slow Money Central New York. The possible ways to structure partnerships around local, specific lending/investing needs are endless! In particular, loans to individuals or businesses who may be "unlendable" by typical banking standards can become possible, and the financially vulnerable have an alternative to predatory financial services.
The "partners" in this model are a community organization and a financial institution. The organization has a client base and a lending or investing objective. Examples could include a charitable organization wishing to facilitate "wheels to work" car loans for their clients, or a BALLE network eager to create a mechanism for local microbusinesses to find capital from citizen investors. In any case, the organization has relationships with the potential borrowers, but little capacity to administer a loan fund effectively. The other partner, a credit union or bank, has the infrastructure in place to make and manage loan accounts, but as a regulated financial institution, there are limits on the types of loans they may make.
The unique nature of the partnership structure takes advantage of each partner's strengths to fill the gaps and make lending possible. Leslie Ackerman of Alternatives will describe in detail how this program works, and how you can explore ways to implement it in your community.
About the speaker:
Leslie Ackerman is Director of Business CENTS (Community Enterprise Networking and Training Services), a community small business resource center at Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca, New York. For nine years, Leslie has taught and coached small business owners at all stages of development, collaborating with many of Alternatives’ other community programs in the process. In 2008, she cofounded Local First Ithaca, which became a member of BALLE in 2009. Leslie's various alter egos and past lives include rock and ice climber, agroforestry advisor in West Africa, fruit smoothie entrepreneur, and wolf caretaker.
Alternatives Federal Credit Union is a regional Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in Ithaca, New York. Alternatives was founded in 1979 by local entrepreneurs who saw the need for financing options for small businesses. Since then, our role as a community development credit union has been to ensure that local money is re-invested in the local community. Our products, services, and programs are all designed with our mission in mind: to build wealth and create economic opportunity for underserved people and communities.