And good thing, because 2020 sure was unexpected! As we look to the road ahead, I’m asking myself two questions:
1 — We know that the financial system fails too many people, but how do we create new, more equitable rules to drive systems-level change?
2 — How do we let go of a status quo that doesn’t serve us and instead embrace our values, trusting they will guide us to a better place? How do we ask our partners – our funders, our investors, our clients – to join us in a new way of doing business?
To achieve our vision of an economy that works for all, ICA is reimagining ways to underwrite risk in small business lending. It’s something we’re pretty good at, as ICA has demonstrated with our strong nearly 25-year track record. We can assess risk through business cash flow and enterprise value, not credit score and collateral. These are more equitable, accessible, and reliable measures of business performance and risk. It’s a way to differentiate real risk from perceived risk. We can do it with ICA companies, but our goal is to get more capital providers to follow us. It’s a long-game towards the world we envision.
We’re investing in our team, bringing in the staffing, resources, and structure to support our ambitious goals. In 2019, along with me, we welcomed Hannah Shr, Lovely Abordo and Gwyneth Galbraith to our team and in 2020, we’ll add to our Investment team to ensure we can accelerate our investing scope and reach. With belonging, inclusion, and accountability as three of our core values, we will strive to further diversify our board. In 2019, we welcomed Mona Masri, Sarah Halpern and Penina Goodman to our Board, each bringing new talents, experience, and perspectives to accelerate our mission. In 2020, we’ll continue to recruit board members, as well as staff, with diverse backgrounds and experiences that can shape our work and add to our impact.
The urgency of our work requires us to think big. We are raising a new $10M fund to deploy to great companies in our community that have the potential to create wealth for themselves and their employees, but need the capital to do it. We have businesses waiting for investments. We have to raise capital to meet this moment, embracing the opportunity to show up and be bold.
Returning to my second question: As we dive deeper into this work in 2020, how do we hold true to our values and trust that they will guide us to a better place? In 2019, during a time of transition, we connected with our values to guide strategic and operational decisions – and those decisions have had impact.
And while 2020 has been unpredictable and challenging in yet new ways, our ability to lean into our values and mission to guide our work has meant that we’ve pivoted, innovated, and are poised to provide the support our companies need for the long term.
By doubling down on the values we embraced in 2019, we’ve proved we can meet this moment. And as we continue to face the immense challenges of 2020 and beyond, we can’t wait to do more!
In my first Impact Report post for this series, I talked about the courage ICA, our supporters, and our companies displayed in 2019 toward a radical and simple purpose: To create an economy that works for all. And I shared, with pride, the new Mission and Vision for our organization. Like then, I encourage you now to think about what this work means, what it will take, and your role in it.
Whether you are an advisor, one of our generous funders, an investor, a community member, or an entrepreneur, you have a part to play.
ICA is open for business. Join us.