OFN member Metropolitan Economic Development Association helps scale diverse small businesses through community partnerships.
Read time: 4 minutes
Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) fill small business financing gaps, offering financing and technical expertise to help small businesses launch, grow, and succeed.
This month, as we open the call for session proposals for our annual Small Business Finance Forum, we’re highlighting OFN member and small business lender Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA).
MEDA has been a leader in Minnesota for over 50 years, empowering and uplifting diverse, or BIPOC, entrepreneurs. MEDA is committed to creating an inclusive and equitable business environment by providing access to resources, opportunities, and support for BIPOC entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey.
Using a variety of for-profit and nonprofit lending strategies, the MEDA team helps BIPOC business owners grow and build generational wealth for their communities.
Hear from Adrian Ruddock, MEDA’s chief lending officer, to learn how the organization is working for economic justice in the state’s small business environment.
What’s your “why” for working in the CDFI industry, and how did you end up at MEDA?
I started my career as a business banker, working for a community bank. There, I saw that a lot of my clients were not able to qualify for the traditional financing products that the bank offered. I later joined a CDFI that funded affordable housing projects, and I worked with those same developers because the organization offered me the opportunity to fund those projects when the banks could not extend credit.
Twenty-five years later, I am glad that I found such a rewarding path to grow in my finance career.
Can you talk about a past project you’re most proud of or a new or ongoing one that you’re excited about and why?
MEDA’s most recent focus is on a partnership with Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) to provide better support to the local BIPOC community. By working together, MEDA, DEED, and NDC will leverage the funding from the MN Promise Act bill and allocate that funding to BIPOC entrepreneurs and businesses throughout Minnesota. This partnership will enable BIPOC communities to scale their businesses and bring generational wealth to communities.
Gathered at KMOJ-FM Radio to promote the initiative: DEED’s Neela Mollgaard, Senator Bobby Joe Champion, Neighborhood Development Center‘s president & CEO Renay Dossman, MEDA’s president & CEO Dorothy Bridges, and KMOJ host Al Flowers
What is the biggest opportunity for MEDA in the upcoming year?
MEDA will continue to focus on supporting BIPOC businesses, and building generational wealth, by using strategies that include franchising, mergers and acquisitions, providing capital for hiring or equipment needs, or any way we can help create more revenue for our business clients.
Our community partners continue to tell us that this is where our help is most needed. We are hopeful, as we continue to see BIPOC people – especially Black women – starting businesses. We see an opportunity for mergers or acquisitions for BIPOC entrepreneurs with white-owned businesses with no succession plan. And we continue to secure contracts from major corporations, including 3M and Target, to support BIPOC businesses. We are determined to use these opportunities and others to scale MEDA’s impact on the BIPOC community to $225 million in the next three years.
What are you looking forward to seeing in the CDFI industry in the upcoming year?
I am excited to see the possibility of leveraging funding and further empowering the BIPOC community through CDFI partnerships.
Describe your organization’s relationship with OFN in one word and explain?
Impactful – OFN has been a terrific partner in providing funding for our internal capacity building and providing funding for MEDA to lend to our clients.
Are you a CDFI interested in joining OFN’s membership? Learn more about the benefits of joining our network of over 400 members and apply today!
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