WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantees

Mission Driven Finance

Photo Courtesy: Mission Driven Finance

Category: Leadership Capacity

Amount: USD$225,000

Term: Sept. 2019—Nov. 2020

Focus: Pilot new community-informed approach to support emerging immigrant and refugee community finance leaders and develop a more diverse talent pipeline for the finance sector

About Mission Driven Finance

Mission Driven Finance is an impact investment firm dedicated to developing a financial system that ensures that good businesses can access affordable capital. Built from the ground up with a single purpose—to make it easy to invest in communities—the firm offers funds and structured products designed to close financial gaps that block opportunity. It works with local and national investors to help them meet certain impact goals, and with communities and small businesses to help them access the capital they need. A Certified B Corporation, the firm was launched in 2016 in San Diego.

What type of work will the grant enable?

Mission Driven Finance is committed to investing in the businesses, communities, and people needed to create a more inclusive financial system. With that purpose in mind, the firm is establishing a new fellowship program that will form a more diverse talent pipeline and invest in underserved communities in San Diego. With support from the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, the firm will hire and train three individuals from immigrant and refugee communities who will participate in the inaugural fellowship cohort over the next year. The fellows will be prepared for a competitive career in community finance and impact investing, and will work with the organization to identify opportunities for investment in their own communities. The fellowship program will generate additional evidence of the benefits of an inclusive workforce in the finance sector, and develop a replicable fellowship model that other communities can adopt.

Why is this work important?

While there are no data on the level of investment in newcomer communities or capital administered by immigrants or former refugees, data on other traditionally underserved communities suggest that, if that data existed, it would tell a similar story: According to a study sponsored by the Knight Foundation, a mere 1.1 percent of the USD$71.4 trillion in assets under management are managed by people of color or women, and less than 2 percent of venture capital goes to businesses led by black or brown founders. Developing immigrant leadership capacity in finance will help bring impact investing closer to immigrant communities. It will also be critical to ensuring that capital is invested in community-informed immigrant integration solutions that offer the greatest potential for impact.