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Creative CDFI and MDI Support

Regions Bank - Birmingham, AL

2022 Community Committment Awards Submission

  • Community and Economic Development
  • Asset Size: Large

Banks, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and nonprofit organizations play a powerful role in creating more inclusive prosperity. Working together we can accomplish far more than individually, which happened in 2021, when the Regions Foundation, a nonprofit organization funded primarily by Regions Bank, enabled a collaboration between Central Alabama Redevelopment Alliance (CARA) and Sabre Financial. CARA is a nonprofit dedicated to increasing economic development capacity for urban and rural communities, working with micro and small businesses and community stakeholders, providing educational programs that create sustainability. Their Western MicroBusiness Accelerator program provides entrepreneurs access to instructional workshops, key resource providers and support to help grow and create jobs. The program has four parts: finance and accounting, entrepreneurship, marketing and expansion, with expansion being the identification of capital access opportunities that are often out of reach for small businesses. While reviewing CARA's application, the Foundation looked deeper into the CARA's programs and the partners and saw a potential gap in funding partners essential to the program's success. The Foundation saw an opportunity to bring together the business training provided by CARA with the financing needed by its graduates through a collaboration with Sabre Financial, a CDFI that seeks to stimulate economic development through the provision of financial and technical assistance to small- and medium-sized businesses. Not only were their missions complementary, but both organizations had the same target market - underserved entrepreneurs, and one grant application became two grants: program support to CARA and funding capital to Sabre to make loans with attractive terms to CARA graduates .