Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) announced that it received a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) financial award of $400,000 for lending to small businesses in economically disadvantaged communities. GROW earned its CDFI designation in 2016.
According to GROW CEO Bonnie Nawara, the grant can help them stabilize their lending portfolio and drive their focus to deploy funds into communities of color. Lending director Kelli Smith added that the financial award underscores a new chapter for GROW. She explained that almost half of the counties they serve have poverty levels higher than statewide and regional rates. There is also more demand than available funds for nontraditional capital in West Michigan.
GROW provided $337,620 in loans to small businesses last year. Seventy-four percent of the borrowers were from low-to-moderate income, and 37% were people of color. The nonprofit has also released a total of $382,000 through its ReStart Kent Loan Program to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic.