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Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI)

Who We Are: ECDI is a U.S. Treasury-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) headquartered in Columbus, serving all Ohio entrepreneurs, with offices in Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, and Toledo. ECDI’s mission is to invest in people to create measurable and enduring social and economic change. The nonprofit organization fills a gap in the credit industry by offering affordable, responsible microloans to underserved or underbanked small businesses. While we serve all entrepreneurs, those who are underbanked are most often people of color, immigrants, women, and/or people with lower income capacity.

What We Do: ECDI helps entrepreneurs succeed, through a combination of lending, business trainings, coaching, and access to incubator services and infrastructure. ECDI operates the only SBA-funded Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) in the state of Ohio, with centers in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, and a new center planned to open in early 2021 in Portsmouth, to provide resources for underserved women in the Appalachian region. The Food Fort, ECDI’s innovative food business incubator and commercial kitchen, also serves the Columbus market. The organization’s one-source, hightouch model helps underserved entrepreneurs on every stage of their small business journey.

Why We're Important: ECDI has always been the small business lender that breaks down barriers for systemically disadvantaged entrepreneurs. In turn, they build up their communities by providing jobs and services in their neighborhoods. In the pandemic economy, small businesses need our help just to survive. Companies that were previously at a systemic disadvantage are suffering at disproportionate rates: CNN reports an estimated 41% of U.S. Black-owned businesses shuttered between Feb. and April, compared to ~17% of white-owned businesses. Latinx and Asian businesses also closed at disproportionate rates, while female entrepreneurs report struggling to run their companies as they were suddenly and unexpectedly burdened with their family’s childcare and online schooling.

ECDI deferred payments, bulked up our business support services and increased our loan output by nearly 300% in the early days of the pandemic to answer the call for help from our clients and other small businesses. We are truly on the frontline of support, offering a lifeline to hundreds of Ohio entrepreneurs.

How We Impact The Community: ECDI gives marginalized entrepreneurs a chance to succeed, and to dramatically change the makeup of their own communities and neighborhoods. Since 2004, ECDI has assisted more than 17,000 individuals, disbursed over $63.7 million through more than 2,800 loans, and has helped create or retain more than 9,000 jobs. A 2018 study of ECDI clients, made possible by a grant from the MasterCard Foundation, revealed that the impact on the Ohio economy through ECDI’s clients comfortably exceeds $1 billion annually. Between April and September of 2020, ECDI’s COVID response included $10.5 million loaned to 350 Ohio businesses, which represents nearly a 300% increase in volume over the same period in the prior year. Close to 71% of those loans were to Black-owned businesses and more than half were female-owned. This accounts for 1,300 jobs that were retained or created.

How You Can Help:

  • Donate: Help ECDI fight for economic justice for marginalized entrepreneurs. Your donation helps fund business development and financial literacy programs for entrepreneurs.

  • Invest: ECDI’s Invest Local Ohio program provides the opportunity to invest in small businesses in your community and receive a return. Think of it as a socially conscious savings account.

  • Volunteer: ECDI runs a Professional Advisor Network, matching professionals with clients in need of coaching in their area of expertise.

Connect with Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI)

1655 Old Leonard Ave. Columbus, OH 43219 614-559-0115

Executive Director: Inna Kinney

Development Director: Douglas Craven Email: Board Chair: Stephanie Steward-Young


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