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WES Mariam Assefa Fund Impact Investee Partners

RIN-CEO Social Impact Fund

Category: Skills and Supports; Growing an Ecosystem of Collaborators

Amount: USD$250,000 invested in November 2020

Through the Social Impact Fund, IRC-CEO is expanding financial access, an essential aspect of economic integration and advancement, to immigrants and refugees.

About the RIN-CEO Social Impact Fund

The Social Impact Fund is a partnership between the International Rescue Committee’s Center for Economic Opportunity (IRC-CEO) and the Refugee Investment Network (RIN). It directly provides financial access and inclusion to hundreds of immigrants and refugees across the United States. IRC-CEO is a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) which brings more than 15 years of experience making flexible, affordable consumer and microenterprise loans to borrowers who have little access to traditional financing, particularly those in refugee and immigrant communities.

How do they create impact?

Since launching in May of 2020, the Social Impact Fund (SIF) has made 240 loans totaling $525,000 financed. More than 64 percent of SIF borrowers have been in the U.S. for less than three years, and the cohort represents 35 countries of origin. Over the lifetime of IRC-CEO’s program, loans have been repaid at an exceptional rate of 98 percent—a rate higher than the national average. Of IRC-CEO’s total borrowers across the U.S., 95 percent are classified as low-income, earning average annual incomes of $28,000 and supporting households of 3.6 individuals on average. IRC-CEO projects that 80 percent of SIF borrowers will be immigrants and refugees, while the other 20 percent are likely to be American-born, particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Why did we invest?

Financial access is critical to economic mobility, yet many immigrants and refugees are unbanked or underbanked and as a result face barriers to capital needed to buy a car, start a business, further their education, or carry out other everyday activities. A 2016 study led by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions with support from the Ford Foundation revealed that there is a significant untapped market for responsible financial products and services among immigrants.
The RIN-CEO Social Impact Fund promotes upward economic mobility among immigrants and refugees in low-income households by supporting the development of financial resilience and filling gaps in available financial services. The IRC-CEO’s approach to providing affordable, safe, and accessible financial services can serve as a model for community lenders across the country and will contribute to more equitable and inclusive lending practices in the consumer finance sector.

Five other impact-oriented investors also invested in the RIN-CEO Social Impact Fund. Including ours, these six investments will enable IRC-CEO to scale its flexible, community-centered financing to additional communities across the U.S.

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