Rise Economy Resilience Fund cohort member earns CDFI status from US Department of Treasury

With Sonoma-based Cresser Capital Fund’s CDFI certification, Rise Economy furthers its mission of launching the next generation of BIPOC-led CDFIs.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (September 14, 2023) — Loan seekers in Sonoma County will have more options for services now that Creser Capital Fund (CCF) has earned Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Certification, thanks to assistance from California’s leading racial and economic justice nonprofit Rise Economy, formerly the California Reinvestment Coalition.

“Our goal with the Resilience Fund is to launch a new generation of CDFIs led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in support of the economic stability of historically marginalized small business owners. That’s why we’re so proud to see that Creser Capital has earned CDFI certification,” said Paulina Gonzalez-Brito, Rise Economy CEO. “CCF will fill a critical gap in the financial lending space for Black, Indigenous and People of Color entrepreneurs in Sonoma County.”

As bank mergers become more common and as bank branches shutter as a result, historically underserved communities will need to lean more heavily on CDFIs to fill the gaps with non-predatory, culturally competent services and resources. In Sonoma County, Latine/x people make up nearly 30 percent of the population but own just 13 percent of the businesses. With assistance from Rise Economy and a newly-earned CDFI certification, CCF’s CEO Juan Hernandez hopes to create more opportunities for Latine/x entrepreneurs.

“Creser Capital believes that the economic success of Sonoma County depends on the economic success of Latinos and the economic success of Latinos can be maximized by the creation and growth of Latino-owned businesses,” Hernandez said. “As a CDFI, Creser Capital is recognized by the US Treasury Department as a trusted lender in the community. Small businesses that have been marginalized in Sonoma County have an ally in Creser Capital.”

CDFI Certification is a designation given by the Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund to financial institutions that specialize in serving low-income communities and those without access to financing. Banks, credit unions, loan funds and venture capital funds can apply for certification if they meet eligibility requirements such as having a primary mission of promoting community development, primarily serving one or more target markets and providing development services in conjunction with its financing activities.

CCF applied to the CDFI Fund twice in the past but was denied both times due to technical reasons. However, with funding from Rise Economy’s Resilience Fund program and technical assistance from the California Community Economic Development Association (CCEDA)— who successfully guided CCF through the reapplication process — CCF was able to secure the grant on its third attempt.

“We’re very proud to see that Creser’s certification has been approved,” said Roberto Barragan, Executive Director of CCEDA,  a 200-member association of community economic development organizations focused on neighborhood revitalization in underserved communities of color. “Without the Resilience Fund and Rise Economy’s combination of Technical Assistance, unrestricted support and training, Creser would continue to face what seems to be never-ending obstacles to the creation of more CDFIs of color.”

“The road to CDFI Certification is a long, windy one, particularly in light of unforeseen challenges,” said Resilience Fund Program Manager Yehwroe S. Martyn, noting changes to the California State Lending License application’s Lending License approval process and an unexpected pause to CDFI Fund acceptance of new CDFI Certification between October 2022 and April 2023. “New and fledging CDFIs don’t have access to sufficient lending capital due to penalties associated with their ‘start-up status.’ So, pairing technical assistance,  unrestricted grant capital and peer learning is invaluable.”

It’s estimated that there are 110 certified CDFIs in California as of February 2022, according to data from CDFI Coalition.  Less than 25 percent of them are led by people of color, according to available data.

Launched in the fall of 2021, the Resilience Fund provides training and technical assistance, peer-learning activities and two-year grants of  $250,000 to 11 California-based BIPOC-led nonprofits, with the goal of becoming certified CDFIs. Since its launch, cohort members have expanded their operational capacity, improved balance sheets and established loan funds to support small business ownership and affordable housing in low-income communities of color. Rise Economy partners with technical assistance providers California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity and CCEDA.

In addition to Cresser Capital, 10 other aspiring CDFIs made up Rise Economy’s inaugural Resilience Fund Cohort: African Americans for Economic Empowerment, Black Cultural Zone, Chinatown Service Center, Coalition for Responsible Community Development, Community Services Unlimited, Inc., Entrepinayship, First Community Capital, Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, Inclusive Action for the City and Pukuu Cultural Community Services.

Learn more of the Rise Economy Resilience Fund

About Rise Economy

Rise Economy, formerly the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), is a member-led alliance focused on creating a more equitable society where Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have access to resources and opportunities to build generational wealth. As the largest statewide community reinvestment alliance in the country, Rise Economy advocates for policies and practices that promote racial and economic justice and that address the root causes of inequality, redlining, and systemic racism. Learn more about Rise Economy.


Brian M. Maxey, 510-813-7552 

More News