Thursday, November 3, 2011

Opportunity Finance Network and Starbucks Collaborate to Create Jobs

Many people must have their cup of Joe to make it through the morning. Now they can contribute to a much needed cause while they are at it.

On November 1, almost 7,000 Starbucks stores across the country and the Opportunity Finance Network, a national coalition of more than 180 community development financial institutions (CDFIs), launched a fundraising initiative to kick start job creation in the U.S.
Through the initiative, Create Jobs for USA, Starbucks customers can make tax-deductible contributions to a fund to help local companies hire and retain workers.
One hundred percent of donations will go to the CDFIs to finance underserved community businesses—small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate developers, and affordable housing developers. All of these community businesses help to create and sustain local jobs.

More than 90 members of the NeighborWorks network are CDFIs. Related NeighborWorks capital corporations NeighborWorks Capital and Community Housing Capital are also CDFIs.

One organization that is making a difference both in housing and business lending is Community Ventures Corp (CVC), a Lexington-based member of the NeighborWorks network for ten years. CVC is the largest micro-enterprise business lender in the Small Business Administration system, making business loans as small as $500.

Kevin Smith, president and CEO of CVC said, “As a CDFI serving entrepreneurs throughout Kentucky, Community Ventures Corporation applauds the Opportunity Finance Network and Starbucks for creating space where small actions can pay great returns.”

Jennifer Vasiloff, executive vice president for policy at the Opportunity Finance Network is excited about the potential.

Create Jobs for USA has the potential to raise tens of millions of dollars and make more credit available all across the U.S,” Vasiloff said. “I never thought I would see a major corporation like Starbucks using its scale, the power of its brand, and its vast consumer marketing expertise to help people understand the concept of a CDFI. Millions will learn about these profit-making (but not profit-maximizing) nonprofit financial institutions that lend in underserved communities.”

The Starbucks Foundation is putting up $5 million to kick start the Create Jobs for USA campaign and is encouraging others to chip in. Customers who donate $5 or more will get a red, white and blue wristband with the message “Indivisible.”