Connect with us


How to Build a Mission-Driven Lending Business




There are lenders and then there are mission-driven lenders. And if you get excited thinking about the latter, there’s no reason why you can’t build a business around this. The key is to develop a pragmatic approach that allows you to grow in a very specific trajectory.

What is a Mission-Driven Lender?

Mission-driven lenders, also referred to as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), are organizations that commit to working with communities and businesses that traditional financial institutions historically under-served. This includes small businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs in low-income communities that lack resources. A mission-driven lender can be a credit union, community bank, nonprofit organization, or even a venture capital fund. 

“They typically raise the money they lend through grants, low-interest loans, foundations, the government or banks looking to satisfy Community Reinvestment Act requirements,” Venturize explains. “CDFIs are very focused on community, targeting their funding to small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate and affordable housing.”

Some mission-driven lenders even have their own revolving loan funds that are targeted toward very specific regions, states, or industries. They make low-interest loans to companies in these areas that would not otherwise qualify for bank loans. This type of lending is usually accompanied by mentoring and other support to increase their chances of being successful. 

CDFIs often participate in 7(a) loans through the Small Business Administration’s Community Advantage Program. This allows them to award loans up to $250,000. Others use venture capital funds that may or may not provide equity in return. 

4 Tips to Becoming a Mission-Driven Lender

Every mission-driven lender has its own specific focus. However, they’re all organically constructed with the purpose of bettering specific communities by making it easy for good ideas to flourish. If you’re interested in living out this goal as a mission-driven lender, here are a few specific things you need to do.


  • Make Sure You Know Your Why


While all mission-driven lenders have the same overarching purpose, the specific goals, vision, and mission of each lender will differ. It’s imperative that you get clear on the why behind what you’re doing.

Entrepreneur Michelle Sun asks, “Why do you want to build what you are building? What does success look like to you? Is it measured by impact, financial success or flexibility of your work hours? Every entrepreneur has a different ‘why.’ Get clear on these at the get-go, and refer back to them along your journey.”

Once you know your why, you can move on to other aspects – like surrounding yourself with other people who believe in your mission.


  • Build a Team of Like-Minded People


Diversity is good when building a team. You want people who think differently, come from different backgrounds, and bring unique strengths to the table. However, this is one business where you need like-minded people. When we use the term “like-minded,” we don’t mean everyone thinks exactly the same. Instead, we mean everyone is on the same page regarding the mission, goals, and desires. Everyone has a passion for seeing underserved communities and entrepreneurs elevated. That’s the goal.


  • Use the Right Tools


So much of modern lending is about technology and automation. And as a mission-driven lender, you need to make sure you’re using the right tools. In other words, you need tools that support and align with your mission. You might have to look a little harder to find these tools but, believe it or not, they exist.

SPARK loan origination software, for example, is designed to work with mission-driven lenders. Features include non-profit pricing and program support. They’re also the only loan origination technology company in the industry that operates as a Public Benefits Corporation.


  • Put Yourself Out There


You can build the best mission-driven lending practice in the industry, but if the community doesn’t know you, it’s a waste of time and money. Make sure you’re putting yourself out there. This includes grassroots marketing, advertising, and constant networking. Make your name known!

Get Started Today

Mission-driven lenders exist to close the financial chasm and fill in the opportunity gaps that exist in most communities. If you’re interested in making your community or industry a better place, being a mission-driven lender is a great place to start. And if you build your organization with a strong foundation, good things will happen for you!

The idea of Bigtime Daily landed this engineer cum journalist from a multi-national company to the digital avenue. Matthew brought life to this idea and rendered all that was necessary to create an interactive and attractive platform for the readers. Apart from managing the platform, he also contributes his expertise in business niche.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The Perfect Investment: RAD Diversified and Income-Producing Farms




Amidst the global lockdown of 2020, Dutch Mendenhall, founder of RADD America, began looking for an alternative to standard residential real-estate investments. So, he turned his analysis to farms and was blown away by the immense potential he saw. After going public in late 2019, RADD America purchased US farmland and made slices of the real estate available at minimum investments of $10,000.

Income-producing farms vs. other real estate asset classes

According to Mendenhall, an apartment complex in today’s US real estate market commands approximately a 4% or 5% cap rate. Farms offer somewhere around a 15% to 20% cap rate.

“When I first began looking at investing in farms, I compared each acre to an apartment or housing unit,” Mendenhall recalls. “The variety that income-producing farms provide is what I really love about them as an opportunity. With one season producing wheat and corn the next, you can double tap — you can raise livestock on top of agriculture. Putting money into the farm only pays off in time. Everything from improving soil to increasing irrigation makes a major impact on potential income, and so much of America’s farmland has fallen into disrepair during the last 20 years.”

When Mendenhall began investing during the early days of the pandemic, sustainable acres of producing farmland sold anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000. Today, he finds that income-producing acres of farmland easily sell for $9,500 to $10,000.

“I’ve seen farmland values almost double during the last couple of years,” Mendenhall says. “Currently, we’re in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Idaho, but we are analyzing land all over America. What reports don’t show is the difference between a properly maintained acre of farmland and an acre that is in disarray. There’s only so much workable farmland on the market today. We’ve hit the tipping point, and now, there’s a scarcity of land for people to buy. If you have the opportunity to purchase amazing agricultural land, you have to pull the trigger quickly.”

Income-producing farms as an asset class

Mendenhall is no stranger to investors. Since 2006, he’s connected them to deals in short sales, wholesaling, residential properties, and storage units, though he admits that every asset class has caused the same excitement as farmland. “At this point, we can’t find enough bargains for our investors,” he says. “They take real pride in their investments and keep asking us for more.”

RADD America takes a true grassroots approach when connecting its investors to farmland. “The farming world is different from any other in real estate,” explains Mendenhall. “We start by having our acquisitions and agricultural teams meet with farmers. When we get ready to brand cattle or plant, all the local farmers come and help. In the same spirit, our teams go out and help the local farmers when it’s their turn to brand and plant. To do it right, you have to build a relationship and a connection that’s quite different than other types of investing.”

RADD America is composed of expert investors and expert farmers. The company offers its investments through fractionalized ownership. In other words, the company purchases one farm and then allows a joint pool of investors to own it together. 

“If you don’t have a team that knows how to farm and maximize income, you’re not going to get the best possible return for investors,” warns Mendenhall. “Thankfully, our team isn’t so big for this type of investing that we forget who we are, and we have the economy to scale at a great pace.”

The impact of global competition on income-producing farm investments

RADD America closely monitors global trends. In Mendenhall’s experience, investors win when they move before the market. However, when they move after the market, they lose.

“When Russian first invaded and sparked its war with Ukraine, for example, we kept a close eye on its global impact,” he says. “As one of the largest producers of wheat in the world, we knew that Ukraine — now in the midst of a war — wasn’t going to be able to produce wheat at the same scale, so someone else needs to step in and fill the gap. We’re constantly monitoring what’s happening in the world to stay on top of evolving trends.”

In terms of global competition, Mendenhall is frustrated by foreign entities staking ownership of American farmland and agriculture. In this area, China has positioned itself as the number one threat to the sovereignty of the United States.

“When foreign powers have ownership of agricultural land in the US, it puts us all at risk as Americans,” remarks Mendenhall. “Over the past few years, we’ve seen soil quality erode, closures of meatpacking plants, and numerous fires. The likelihood of nuclear war in this age is very small. The quiet war of buying American agriculture and unsettling the American dollar is the threat we face today.”

Clearly, RADD America has a lot to pay attention to at home and abroad. “We’re monitoring weather patterns and making one-year, three-year, and five-year predictions,” Mendenhall explains. “We’re also paying close attention to interest rates to see where this shifting economy is headed. The up-and-down cycles are faster than they’ve ever been. Monitoring the industry is critical. With expert investors and agricultural specialists from RADD America on your team, farmland can be one of your most promising and rewarding investment opportunities.”

Continue Reading