CDFIs: A Hidden Gem for Small Business Funding


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Show Overview:

A ‘hidden’ resource for funding small businesses – CDFIs. In this episode, we talk to Harold Pettigrew, the Executive Director of WACIF, a D.C. metropolitan area leading Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI).  Learn more about the importance of the relationship between CDFIs and the community, how CDFIs get funded, and at what point an entrepreneur can seek funding from the institution.

About GFGF: 

The Get Found Get Funded podcast is at the intersection of entrepreneurship and social justice where we focus on entrepreneurship as a possible path to wealth creation — specifically for Black and Latinx communities.

Featured Guest:  Harold Pettigrew

Harold Pettigrew, Executive Director of the Washington Area Community Fund (WACIF). Harold is a Native Washingtonian who has over two decades of economic development experience. At the forefront of Harold’s mission is equitable development strategies and to increase business success for low-and moderate-income microbusiness owners.



Key Takeaways: 

  • CDFIs are rarely discussed and go unnoticed as funding options but are custom-made to help underserved communities.
  • Entrepreneurs need to build relationships with funding sources such as CDFIs. CDFIs like WACIF especially appreciate building relationships with their customers – and learning about their business – before approving loans. Multiple business owners have found the resources of CDFIs (not just funding) an important piece of their pathway to success.
  • In 2018, 100% of WACIF lending was to entrepreneurs of color. 50% of that was to women entrepreneurs.
  • The importance of claiming the identity of entrepreneur for business owners – and why many do not yet do so.
  • Black-led CDFIs face the same challenges as black-owned businesses. Learn more, and how CDFIs are addressing these challenges.


01:03    Intro

01:16    Harold Pettigrew’s Background

01:56    CDFI Definition and Role

02:48    Why are CDFIs overlooked as funding options?

04:43    How is WACIF reaching out to people?

12:06    Using Data to Help Clients

13:36    WACIF Initiatives.

17:44    How do CDFIs get funded?

21:00  CDFI Misconceptions 

27:41    WACIF Programs versus Loans

37:29    The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund

49:47    Changes to the Startup World

54:15    Outro

Items Mentioned in the Show:



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Quotes from the Show:

  • “We put entrepreneurs at the center of our work."
  • “The more you know your clients, the more you can service them.”
  • “We know D.C. has a long history of issues [with] race and economic opportunity... we made it a point to be focused on inclusion, and ... specifically entrepreneurs of color."
  • “In 2018, 100% of our lending was to entrepreneurs of color.”
  • “Your financial statements should be strategy documents, they should help you make the right decisions for your business."
  • “I often push folks to understand the financial life of [their] business."
  • “We invest in people. Simply put.”
  • “I think it's important to note that Black-led CDFIs often face the same challenges that black business owners face as well.”
  • “Black businesses hire black people. The equation is simple.”
  • “When you begin to unpack the issue at hand, when you think about, even from an entrepreneurship standpoint, what we're talking about is access to networks. Right? That once you begin getting whether it's the asset manager, or CDFI, there's certain relationships that we just don't have."
  • “Some of the business owners we work with, they don't see themselves as an entrepreneur. So, we use the articulation of entrepreneur ... because it's a mindset and it's by definition, they're an entrepreneur. The asset is the business. They are the owner of the asset; therefore, they're a business owner.”
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