You don’t hear much about impact investing in this industry. Well, that might be about to change with this announcement today from Community Investment Management (CIM). Who is CIM? They are an impact investment firm based in San Francisco that has quietly built the first impact fund in the marketplace lending space.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference is being held in Denver, Colorado this week. And while I did not attend I did manage to have lunch with Jacob Haar and Lewis Hower of CIM who did attend. They chose the CGI America conference to announce their $300 million commitment to American small business.
This large investment will be made over two years to an expected 9,500 small businesses. CIM will be investing in the loans issued by some of the leading marketplace lending platforms and it includes a $75 million commitment to fund small business loans with Lending Club over the two years and beyond. Other participating platforms will be Funding Circle and Streetshares along with several others.
A majority of the small businesses funded by CIM are owned by women, minorities and military veterans. It also seeks to exclude from its portfolios any company that operates in an industry that is on the IFC (World Bank) exclusion list. The other piece that is important to CIM is to only invest in loans issued by platforms that adhere to responsible and transparent lending standards.
While Jacob couldn’t disclose the current size of their fund because of regulatory restrictions, he did say that they began investing in March 2014 and have gained good traction in the last 15 months. This announcement will certainly put CIM on the map as a major player in small business lending.
I met Jacob at the very first LendIt two years ago and he has been a speaker at both our 2014 and 2015 US conferences. I like what he is doing with CIM and I wish him and his team all the best.