Nearly five years ago, we presented a new mission statement to reflect our expanded program and geographic focus. We have grown substantially since that time, both in size and scope and wanted to revisit our mission statement to ensure it continues to reflect our organizational goals and values. The opportunity to learn, grow, and sharpen our focus on who we work to serve and why over the last few years has led us to our updated mission and supporting statements:
Our mission is to advance equitable access to capital to build assets and benefit communities and people most in need of economic opportunity.
- We accomplish our mission by providing loans, technical assistance, advocacy, and knowledge for the development of affordable housing, healthy food enterprises, community facilities, and community businesses.
- Acknowledging that the need for our work is rooted in generations of injustice and disinvestment, we focus on serving people of color, women, low-income individuals, and those in rural communities.
Right now, somewhere in South Carolina, a family dreams of growing their small business or buying a building to serve as their business’ permanent home, but their startup status prevents them from securing financing. There are communities throughout the state where local leaders want to provide their neighbors with access to essential services like a full-service grocery store and healthcare facilities, community gathering space, or safe and affordable housing, but haven’t been able to secure the financing to complete those projects. And we have data that shows that in our state this lack of access to capital disproportionately impacts women, people of color, rural communities, and historically low-income neighborhoods. In fact, Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies recently reported that if current trends continue, African American median wealth will be zero by the year 2053, even as the United States is projected to be a majority non-white country by that time. That’s only 33 years from now. We need to work hard, and we need to work together to turn the tide of systemic economic injustice.
The fundamental nature of what we do and why we do it has not changed – we still provide loans to support the development of community development projects and small businesses across the state. Our loan officers will still work hands-on with our borrowers, sometimes for years at a time, to get their projects to the finish line. We will still advocate for legislation that impacts our borrowers and the communities we serve. But we are doing so with a more explicit focus on reaching and serving those communities and people who have historically been left out of the financial mainstream – those who are truly most in need of economic opportunity.
When I read the words in our new mission statement and reflect on the progress we have made together this year, I am ready for the work ahead of us. We look ahead to 2020 with a renewed sense of urgency, need, and possibility, and look forward to working alongside community members and supporters like you increase equitable access to capital throughout South Carolina.
In continued partnership,
Chief Executive Officer