Last week, CLF staff attended Opportunity Finance Network’s 2014 Southeast Regional Meeting in Durham, NC. The meeting provided an opportunity to network with our peers and industry stakeholders, and to learn how to improve our effectiveness in achieving our mission. But more so than training and networking opportunities, it provided a sense of renewed commitment and appreciation for the CDFI industry as a whole.

Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are private financial institutions that deliver responsible, affordable lending to markets that are underserved by traditional financial institutions. CLF received its CDFI designation in 2007, and is one of 874 CDFIs nationally, and one of only 10 in South Carolina.

As a CDFI, CLF is able to access capital that was previously unavailable to South Carolina and utilize these funds for community development projects located in underserved communities across the state. With more than 90 percent of their capital derived from private sources, CDFIs leverage public resources as few, if any, other industries do.

Each year, CDFIs from across the county come together to share industry-best practices; many of these information exchanges occur under the direction and leadership ofOpportunity Finance Network (OFN).

OFN is the leading national network of CDFIs investing in opportunities that benefit low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities across America. Their mission is to lead CDFIs to ensure these communities have access to affordable, responsible financial products and services.

CLF’s mission of supporting the development of vibrant, sustainable communities is in line with the mission of OFN, and for the past five years since becoming a member, CLF has benefited from their leadership. As OFN celebrates their 30th anniversary this year, we congratulate them on their success and we thank them for their leadership in the CDFI industry.