Despite sheltering-in-place during the COVID-19 pandemic, grantee partner Mission Driven Finance welcomed five leaders to its inaugural Community Finance Fellowship and kicked off the yearlong initiative (albeit virtually). The Community Finance Fellows are:
- Louise Jordan, a San Diego native who has a legal background and moved back from Virginia to join the team
- Andrew Moncada, a financial analyst from Florida who plans to run his own impact investment firm one day
- Benson Ochira, a refugee from Uganda who has a degree in business management
- Essence Rodriguez, an undergraduate research fellow with the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at UC San Diego
- Crystal Sevilla, an executive assistant from San Diego who has a deep interest in economics and finance
Mission Driven Finance’s Community Finance Fellowship seeks to empower individuals from communities that historically lack access to capital, including immigrants and refugees, to use finance as a tool for change. Through the program, fellows get hands-on training in a field that is often hard to access or unwelcoming to women and people of color. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the securities and financial investments field is nearly 62 percent male and over 84 percent white.
Due to the COVID-19-related closures of many businesses, Mission Driven Finance adapted quickly to the changing environment by modifying the fellows’ curriculum and project plans and still kept the core lessons of their fellowship field guide intact. Fellows will still be trained on the full lifecycle of impact investing—from researching, analyzing impact, and loan underwriting to developing relationships in the community.
“We are grateful to WES for their continued support of our work, particularly helping us offer career pathways in finance for people from underrepresented communities in the field,” says Lauren Grattan, Mission Driven Finance Co-founder and Director of Community Engagement. “Our fellows are already diving deep into how to drive capital into communities that are being left behind by COVID-19 relief efforts. We are proud of the fellows’ commitment to economic equity and are happy they are part of our team.”
The Fund congratulates the talented new fellows who have joined the Mission Driven Finance team. They will be leading exciting efforts to ensure that impact investing reaches immigrant communities that are often left out of the financial system. To build an inclusive economy that works for all—including immigrants and refugees—capital must be invested in community-informed solutions. We look forward to sharing more on how Mission Driven Finance and the Community Finance Fellows are driving change in their communities and in the financial sector.