Blanca Pacheco, una madre soltera de Ecuador, transformó su vida a través de Community First Fund y Finanta. Después de años de alquilar, compró su propia casa, proporcionando estabilidad y oportunidades de patrimonio. (Foto: Cortesía)

Imagine a community where everyone thrives, free from poverty and discrimination. Community First Fund, in partnership with Finanta, a community development financial institution (CDFI), is making this vision a reality. These organizations break down barriers to wealth-building for individuals, families, and business owners, particularly those from diverse ethnic backgrounds, women and immigrants. Through various financial programs, they help entrepreneurs build credit, accumulate wealth and create jobs, positively impacting their communities.

Mamie Sardnee, an immigrant from Liberia, is an example of this transformative power. She started her business selling agricultural and baked goods from a truck in Southwest Philadelphia, dreaming of owning a store someday. Traditional banks turned her down due to her lack of credit history. However, with Community First Fund’s Affinity Group Lending (AGL) program, Mamie found the support she needed.

Hundreds of small business owners have gone through the AGL program, receiving capital, personalized training and guidance on finances, business planning and credit improvement. The group loan cycle typically lasts 12 months. Upon completing the first cycle, the group can participate in follow-up cycles with increased funding and training. Participants use these loans to establish credit, renovate stores, provide working capital or purchase equipment and inventory.

Mamie’s first loan in 2014 was a step towards her goal. With additional funding over the years, she could build inventory, open a store and purchase a freezer. In 2022, she achieved a milestone by securing a commercial real estate loan to expand her business. Now her store enriches the neighborhood with fresh produce and spices, creating jobs and providing healthy food in a food-insecure area.

David Christian’s story is also inspiring. An Indonesian immigrant, David worked as a mechanic before identifying the need for a repair shop that could overcome the language barriers of the Indonesian community. Community First Fund helped him secure his first business loan and a mortgage for his family’s first home. Today, Miracle Joy Motors is a testament to vision and perseverance, and a crucial resource for David’s community.

CDFIs also help individuals build wealth by purchasing homes. Blanca Pacheco, a single mother from Ecuador, transformed her life through Community First Fund and Finanta. After years of renting, she bought her own home, providing stability and wealth-building opportunities. As co-director of the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, she now helps other immigrants access financial resources, extending Community First Fund’s impact.

In addition to mortgages, Community First Fund and Finanta offer specialized financial products to support affordable housing development. There is a significant shortage of affordable housing nationwide, and this shortage is heavily felt in Philadelphia. Collaborating with local organizations, they fund projects that bring much-needed housing and services to underserved neighborhoods. Village Square in Haverford is one such project, featuring affordable apartments, a supermarket, a health center and more.

In its 30-year history, Community First Fund, together with Finanta, has invested $487 million to predominantly benefit low-income individuals, with significant support for diverse ethnic groups and women-owned businesses. Their efforts have created 71,000 jobs and contributed to the development of over 3,000 affordable housing units. Each repaid loan is reinvested, creating a cycle of economic equity and wealth generation. These investments go beyond the financial aspect; they are investments in the future of our communities.


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