The SIF was launched as a partnership between the International Rescue Committee’s Center for Economic Opportunity (IRC-CEO) and the Refugee Investment Network (RIN) to offer impact investors a unique opportunity to secure a concessional rate of return while directly supporting financial inclusion for hundreds of refugees across the United States.
Working as an intermediary and expert in refugee lens investing, RIN helped identify investors to fund IRC-CEO’s innovative low-cost loan programs, which are designed to help new Americans build credit scores, purchase cars, pay for workforce training, strengthen their financial skills, and access entrepreneurial capital to start small businesses.
“The resounding success of the SIF coupled with the ever-growing demand for affordable debt capital in the U.S. resettlement community points to the need for more innovative financial products targeting refugees,” said Tim Docking, Managing Director of RIN.
Since launching in May of 2020, the SIF has made 240 loans totaling $525K financed. More than 64% of SIF borrowers have been in the U.S. for less than three years, and the cohort represents 35 unique countries of origin. Over the lifetime of IRC-CEO’s program, loans have been repaid at an exceptional rate of 98% – higher than the national average. Of CEO’s total borrowers across the U.S., 95% of them are classified as low-income, with average earned annual incomes of $28k supporting households with an average of 3.6 individuals.
“With 15 years of experience investing in and with refugee and immigrant communities, IRC-CEO believes in the power of flexible, community-centered financing to transform lives,” said Kasra Movahedi, Director of IRC-CEO. “The SIF enables us to expand the reach of our programs and accelerate the upward economic trajectory of refugees and newcomers across the U.S.”
SIF investors include Mercy Investment Services, the Shapiro Foundation, the Baltimore Community Foundation, the Dunn Family Charitable Foundation, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund.
“Access to our financial system is critical for economic mobility, yet many immigrants and refugees are unbanked or underbanked and thus face barriers to completing essential life tasks such as buying a car, starting a business, or furthering one’s education,” said Monica Munn, Senior Director of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund. “As a funder committed to building an inclusive economy where immigrants and refugees thrive, we’re thrilled to invest in the SIF to scale financial support for all workers.”
A RIN-CEO “SIF II” is currently in design, and will be launched in 2021 to further expand the impact of CEO’s initiatives across the U.S. through the IRC’s regional offices.