Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) help to address the financial needs of under-served, predominantly low-income communities. CDFIs include community development banks, credit unions, business and microenterprise loan funds, and venture capital funds. Although CDFIs are a rapidly growing and an increasingly important area of community economic development, they have not received proportionate attention from academic researchers. This article begins to address the gap. It outlines the history of the CDFI industry and details how CDFIs are responding to three specific development needs: basic financial services; affordable credit for home purchase, rehabilitation, and maintenance; and loan and equity capital for business development. The article then considers the strengths and limitations of CDFIs, concentrating especially on the relationship between CDFIs and conventional financial institutions. It concludes by examining the impact that these alternative financial institutions realistically can hope to achieve.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Urban Studies