The Community First Fund/FINANTA merger
On July 1, 2020, Community First Fund and FINANTA joined forces as one, larger community development financial institution (CDFI) that allows us to have a greater impact and drive change in the communities we serve. Working with FINANTA as a partner in Philadelphia made it clear we could achieve much more in the market if we joined forces. Together we are stronger, and our combined resources will increase the number of businesses and nonprofits we can serve in the future.
A Shared Passion
Starting in the 1990’s, Community First and FINANTA operated as separate CDFIs, both providing access to capital for people often overlooked by traditional banks. Our shared passion for promoting economic equality and advocacy for low-income minorities and immigrants has been evident throughout the history of both organizations.
When considering the merger, both organizations focused on their shared mission and strong cultural fit. Community First Fund and FINANTA have worked as peer organizations providing capital access to people who are overlooked by mainstream financial providers in the region. The people they serve are hardworking entrepreneurs – predominately first- and second-generation Latino, African and Asian immigrants, and African Americans who need financial counseling and business loans. The majority of their borrowers live and work in some of the most economically challenged communities in the nation, facing high poverty and unemployment rates.
Both Community First and FINANTA offer lending products that meet business needs for flexible financing solutions. The array of loan products is complementary since there is significant synergy with little overlap. The combined loan product and technical assistance offerings will allow for a continuum of business support from early to expanding stage.
Why Merge Now?
Over the years, our CEO Daniel Betancourt built a strong partnership with Luis Mora, President and Founder of FINANTA. In 2018, Community First and FINANTA began working more closely through the Kensington Lending Partnership. As the shared worked evolved, it became evident that by deepening our collaboration, we could significantly strengthen the services and loan products we offer in the market and substantially expand the number of people served.
Merging in the middle of a pandemic might raise some questions. So, why do it? Plans for the merger had been underway for over a year and Luis Mora had scheduled his retirement for July 2020. In the months leading up to the July date, Community First and FINANTA worked together on both the PPP loan and PA State Grant programs. Ultimately, this joint effort funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into some of the most economically challenged communities in the nation. Together, we provided hardworking entrepreneurs with access to relief programs and funding that helped them keep their businesses afloat. This made it clear that the merger could not be delayed.
Looking to the Future
Moving forward as Community First Fund, our combined organization will continue to drive our mission and offer an expanded scope of products and services in our 20-county footprint in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.
As Community First Fund, the integrated organizations will continue to drive their shared mission and deliver services to the newly expanded 20 county region. Future plans may include supporting other low-income communities with similar demographics and needs.