A New Model for Social Investment 

Small businesses, entrepreneurs, and local nonprofits form the backbones of thriving communities, and right now, they’re struggling. Providing access to flexible, affordable capital supports small businesses and nonprofits in the communities that need them most. 

CLF in Action 

Too often, small, local businesses and nonprofits are the least able to secure the funding they need to grow and expand.  

That’s why Conservation Law Foundation and Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) launched the Healthy Retail and Commerce Fund. The fund provides financing to help health-promoting enterprises grow and thrive – which in turn helps them serve low-income communities and communities of color more effectively. Offering low-cost loans with flexible terms and extended repayment plans breaks down the financial barriers that small-business owners and nonprofits in these communities have faced for far too long. 

Moreover, these enterprises provide access to fresh produce, good jobs, and wealth-building opportunities while also lifting up the health of the customers and neighborhoods they serve. 

What’s at Stake 

COVID-19 laid bare the profound impact that our neighborhoods have on our health. People in low-income communities and communities of color already live with higher levels of pollution, overcrowded housing, and other environmental harms. They were also sickened and killed by the coronavirus at much higher rates than people in wealthier, whiter communities. 

The conditions that put these communities at such high risk during the pandemic are no accident. Decades of discriminatory lending practices, such as redlining, contributed to economic decline and disinvestment. These communities often lack access to healthy and affordable food and quality jobs. 

Investing in small businesses and nonprofits that create good jobs and a welcoming environment and provide essential goods and services can go a long way toward building healthier neighborhoods and undoing the suffering inflicted by decades of unjust policies. 

These enterprises also create jobs and keep money in the community while building wealth and contributing to a sense of place and community pride. 

Dig Deeper

Read our case studies about three of the businesses and organizations the Fund has supported: