As the first quarter of 2023 unfolds, Momentus Capital team members are starting to see trends for an exciting year ahead. And while 2022 proved to be another rollercoaster ride for the economy and small businesses, our experts still forecast plenty of opportunities to make 2023 a groundbreaking year in mission-based lending.
In this year’s predictions, we take a deep dive into a wide range of topics, including how communities can lead the way to greater economic prosperity, how we can get more capital into the hands of small businesses, and potential legislative changes on the horizon. Ultimately, we remain focused on how these factors could impact our borrowers, partners, investors, and the communities we serve. This valuable foresight serves as a compass for existing entrepreneurs and those embarking on their ventures.
It’s Black History Month! This month, we will celebrate by illuminating the social and economic experiences that shape the lives of African American communities. We also wanted to take a moment to share the history of Black History Month and the theme for this year.
Did you know that Black History is a tradition that started in the Jim Crow era and was officially recognized in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebrations? It aims to honor the contributions that African Americans have made and to acknowledge their sacrifices. Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) chooses a different theme, with this year’s theme focusing on “Black Resistance.”
As a real estate developer looking to deliver social impact, the process of finding and engaging with a lender can be hard. Once your mind is set on starting a community development real estate project, who do you turn to? Where do you find them? What is the process like?
As part of the Momentus Capital family of mission-driven lenders, Capital Impact Partners – a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) – provides flexible and affordable loans of $650,000+ ($350,000 under special circumstances) to finance key community pillars, including health centers, education facilities, food retailers, affordable housing, small businesses, and cooperatives.
We are a national lender, capable of providing loans across the country, but we also have a place-based focus in specific regions, including California, Michigan and northwest Ohio, the New York Tri-State Area, the Southeast, Texas, and the Washington metropolitan area.
We know you have got questions about the community development real estate process. To help get your process started, we offer some answers here about working with a CDFI lender.
1. When in the development process should I start working with a CDFI lender?
It is never too early to start gathering information from lenders, but you’d ideally want to get started when you are about six months from starting construction.
By then, you would have a good estimate for the timing of obtaining permits and starting construction.
CDFIs such as Capital Impact Partners will work hand in hand with real estate developers looking to deliver social impact
2. What types of reserves will a CDFI lender require?
Lenders will have contingencies on your project that may go above and beyond what you have budgeted; usually 7.5-15% of hard costs expenses and 5% of soft cost expenses.
If you are capitalizing interest during construction, which is recommended when there are no operations ongoing during construction, that will need to be included in the overall project budget.
Once construction is completed, there may be lease up reserves, debt service reserves, and/or facility maintenance reserves.
3. Where does the capital that CDFIs lend come from?
CDFIs serve as capital aggregators that attract capital from the market, banks, government sources, and foundations.
4. Will a CDFI lender hold the loans or will they sell them?
CDFIs do both. At Capital Impact, if they are sold, we ensure that there is no impact on the Borrower’s experience or relationship.
5. What influences CDFI lenders’ rates?
Primarily it is the Treasury rates, unless the CDFI has a sector/geographic fund that is independent of Treasuries.
6. Who approves the loan and how does the loan committee work?
CDFIs have groups that review deals. Capital Impact has an internal credit committee that reviews deals on a weekly basis.
Some CDFIs or specific loan products require external review and approval. Underwriting packages must be submitted at least a week in advance to receive approval the following week.
The committee cares about the financial strength of the transaction, the deal fitting into our established credit guidelines, and the impact of the transaction on the community.
8. Who will be my main contact for loan closing and will it change afterwards?
You may first interact with a business development officer or someone with a similar position, who will be the initial point of contact until a term sheet is signed.
Then you’ll speak with a loan officer who will underwrite your transaction until it is approved.
Once approved, a legal and closing team will drive the process, but the loan officer will remain involved to ensure the loan is closed according to what was agreed to with the borrower and as outlined in their underwriting.
9. As a non-legal person, how do I review a loan agreement?
Consider seeking legal counsel to review a loan document. But generally, check that the interest rate, fees, and dates match your understanding. Check the reporting and financial covenants to ensure you can meet them.
10. What should I do if I think I am going to default on my loan?
Tell your lender as quickly as possible. CDFIs are lenders with a mission to provide fair, responsible financing, and they will work closely with you when things are tough. Another very important element to take into consideration when looking to establish a relationship with a community development real estate lender is that lender’s value system. You have the right and responsibility to vet the lender to make sure that their values, goals, and philosophies align with yours. It is a two way street and any conversation about funding should be as much about the entrepreneur evaluating the funder as the funder evaluating the entrepreneur.
2022 is a special year for us at Capital Impact Partners as it marks our 40th anniversary. Four decades of leaning into helping people build communities of opportunity and developing pathways to success.
And while this is an exciting time for us as we embark on a new strategy under Momentus Capital, it is equally important to remember our roots as a champion for the cooperative movement.
By Raymond Guthrie Chief Investment Officer and Head of Capital Deployment Momentus Capital
In 2022, a Fast Company piece by Porter Braswell released new statistics that painted a telling picture: in 2021, only 1.4% of Black founders received venture capital funds. That’s a stark number when you consider that more than 13 percent of the U.S. population is Black or African American. It is not surprising, however, given that Black investors only make up 3% of the venture capital industry. The numbers are similarly poor for women-led startups, which only receive 2.3% of venture capital funding, and whose leaders only make up 5.7% of venture capital partners.
When you think that racial inequality, specifically as it relates to Black Americans, has cost our economy over $16 trillion over the last 20 years, it’s clear that our approach to investing in diverse entrepreneurs needs to change.
SameSky Health Founder and CEO Abner Mason is on a mission to advance health equity in communities
Abner Mason came up with the idea for SameSky Health in 2013 with a dream of creating a company that is on a mission to advance health equity. From its inception, SameSky Health has been focused on engaging and helping Americans who are marginalized or under-resourced.