San Diego’s Mission Driven Finance has just awarded its first $1.1 million in loans— impact investments that provide social entrepreneurs and nonprofits access to capital to help transform their communities.
Mission Driven was founded in 2016 by a team of finance and philanthropic leaders to tap into a trend of investors looking to drive financial returns as well as effect positive social change.
“Communities are stronger when local businesses grow and thrive, yet many high-quality businesses end up stuck without access to affordable capital,” said Mission Driven Finance Chief Executive Officer David Lynn. “Our blend of financing opportunities and technical assistance allows us to invest in great businesses that are advancing economic opportunity for their employees and their community – without relying on personal credit scores and guarantees like many other lenders.”
The Mission Driven Finance leadership team includes Chief Investment Officer Louie Nguyen, a Carmel Valley resident and Del Mar Schools Education Foundation board member; and Chief Operating Officer Shreya Shah Sasaki, a Pacific Highlands Ranch resident and member of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board.
Several local residents are also among Mission Driven’s strategic advisers, including Amanda Goldberger from Carmel Valley and Mike Halpern from Del Mar.
With their first loans, Mission Driven Finance has made significant progress toward their 2018 goal of raising and deploying their flagship $10 million commercial loan fund. The first beneficiaries include Lucky Bolt, a local food kitchen and healthy meal delivery company; All Across America, a fair trade home goods wholesaler; and Thrive Public Schools, K-12 schools in City Heights.
Shah Sasaki, who has an undergraduate degree in economics and a master’s degree in public health, has spent the bulk of her career working on public health initiatives. In her last eight years with Kaiser Permanente, she was involved in grant making and philanthropy.
She met Mission Driven’s Director of Community Engagement Lauren Grattan and CEO Lynn through her philanthropic efforts with San Diego Grantmakers—for Shah Sasaki, Mission Driven was a way to combine her financial side with her desire to make positive social change in the community.
Shah Sasaki said the way Mission Driven identifies the nonprofits or small businesses they work with and the support they provide is what sets them apart from traditional lenders.
“What makes us different from a bank is that we do hands-on technical assistance and capacity building to get social entrepreneurs and small businesses ready for that investment,” Shah Sasaki said.
Mission Driven completes a full assessment with its borrowers, looking at everything from financial models, leadership, management, marketing and the impact they are making. Shah Sasaki said it is exciting to offer access to that kind of assistance that the nonprofits or small businesses might not have otherwise, helping to “demystify” the loan process, how to make payments and be smart about growing their business so they can better serve the community.
“We often say that being socially conscious and business savvy do not have to be mutually exclusive,” said All Across Africa Chief Operating Officer Alicia Wallace. “In Mission Driven Finance, we’ve found a kindred spirit and business partner who can support our commitment to improving the lives of thousands of women in Africa and hiring more people at our National City headquarters.”
Mission Driven currently has over 60 prospective borrowers in readiness to take on a loan.
“I continue to be amazed by how much good is being done in San Diego,” said Grattan, noting it’s an equally exciting opportunity for investors to help make a difference in their community and still make a return.
“I’m so excited about this work every day,” Shah Sasaki echoed. “It’s an amazing group of people and it’s an amazing impact that we’re having on this region.”
To learn more about borrowing or investing, visit missiondrivenfinance.com