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Big Society Capital and Citi convene the Community Investment Steering Group

Big Society Capital and Citi collaborated at the beginning of this year to convene the Community Investment Steering Group to complement other initiatives Big Society Capital launched with partners including the £30 million Community Investment Enterprise Facility and evaluation led by Sheffield Hallam University.

/ Posted on 09/01/2019

The Steering Group’s aim was to bring together a range of stakeholders that could influence change in the CDFI market including representatives from CDFIs, small business, investors, banks, foundation, thought leaders and government.

Chaired by Citi’s Bob Annibale[1], the Steering Group’s aims are:

  • bringing representatives from key stakeholder groups together to develop a shared understanding of the opportunities and challenges the CDFI market faces;
  • agreeing a clear vision for how the CDFI market can scale that the members can collectively work towards; and,
  • developing ideas and approaches that stakeholder groups could individually or collectively implement to help achieve the vision.

To set the course for the Steering Group, the first session developed a vision the members could buy into with confidence. This was then tested and refined with a group of CDFIs in two workshops, resulting in the following vision statement for the Steering Group’s work:

Significant social and economic impact in underserved communities, created through sustainable capital invested at scale by a resilient Enterprise Lending CDFI sector.

Big Society Capital also ran interactive workshops with the CDFIs and the Steering Group to capture their thoughts on how to achieve the vision. Hundreds of post-its were produced containing a wealth of ideas that could form the basis for more in-depth exploration of some recurring themes. We categorised these ideas into the following four areas:

  • CDFI business models;
  • Evidence and visibility;
  • The role of the public sector;
  • New models of investing in CDFIs.

The Steering Group is using the ideas developed at the workshops and the Steering Group members’ experience to develop a short investment case that brings together the financial, social and economic potential of CDFI lending. It will be accompanied by some considered recommendations across the four areas on those changes, which could help shift the CDFI sector closer to realising the vision. This will be targeted at the stakeholder groups represented by the Steering Group members, including investors and government.

The investment case will be put forward in the form of a short report which will be published in Spring 2019. At this point the Steering Group will formally draw to a close. However, this is intended as just the start of the conversation across stakeholder groups on what is possible through collaboration which Big Society Capital and Citi are optimistic will outlive the Steering Group.

Find out more about the broader range of community investment initiatives

[1] Bob Annibale is the Global Director, Community Development and Inclusive Finance at Citi.

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