RCLF’s business lending team with representatives from the SBA after being named SBA Top Loan Volume & Top Dollar Microlender for Mississippi. 

Renaissance Community Loan Fund’s business lending team with representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA) after being named SBA Top Loan Volume & Top Dollar Microlender for Mississippi for the second consecutive year.

Mississippi CDFI Offers Disaster Relief Financing in Hardest Hit Communities

Roland Kamara, Membership Associate, Opportunity Finance Network

OFN member Renaissance Community Loan Fund expands access to capital in Alabama as it marks 18 years since launching in response to Hurricane Katrina. 

Read time: 5 minutes

In February, CDFI peers and other mission lenders and partners convened in Jackson, Mississippi, for OFN’s Southeast Regional Meeting and trainings. In preparation, OFN connected with Kimberly LaRosa, President & CEO of Renaissance Community Loan Fund (RCLF) to hear about her CDFI’s work in Mississippi and Alabama.  

RCLF has been a leading community lender in the region since 2006 when it began providing financing to homeowners and businesses rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  A nonprofit loan fund, RCLF offers residential mortgage products and business lending and prioritizes financial education and technical assistance to residents in Mississippi and Alabama.  

What’s your “why” for working in the community development space, and how did you end up at RCLF? 
 

I started with RCLF in 2007 to work on the housing issues caused by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in the lower six counties of Mississippi. It was very important for me to be an active participant in the rebuilding of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, my home, and for the region to be even better than it was pre-Katrina. I was excited to be part of the newly created RCLF, which was originally meant to be a temporary organization.   

Here I am, 17 years later, still excited to lead RCLF as we continue to grow and provide economic opportunities to the entire state of Mississippi, with a recent expansion to the state of Alabama.  

What’s the biggest opportunity to create greater impact that RCLF is considering?
 

RCLF has developed a business loan product utilizing $14.7 million in funding from the Mississippi Development Authority, which will be combined with additional private funding. RCLF will administer and deploy the funds, providing an injection of capital into businesses in Mississippi that will likely serve as a catalyst for business expansion, job creation, and overall economic vitality in Mississippi.   

What is the biggest challenge for RCLF in 2024?
 

The biggest challenge RCLF faces in 2024 is securing capital for lending in our mortgage programs.  

In one word, describe RCLF’s relationship with OFN.
 

Partnership. I chose “partnership” because OFN has been a great partner to RCLF during our membership and has been a vital contributor to the growth and success of RCLF.   

The following is a short photo essay that illustrates some of RCLF’s recent successes in business and residential mortgage and lending: 
 

Kimberly LaRosa (left) is pictured with Mike Pornovets, SBA Mississippi 2023 Veteran Small Business Champion and 2016 Small Business Person of the Year

Kimberly LaRosa (left) is pictured with Mike Pornovets, SBA Mississippi 2023 Veteran Small Business Champion and 2016 Small Business Person of the Year. Since opening Everything Kayak in 2011, Mr. Pornovets has seen great success and even financed a second business through RCLF.

Three young men sitting at the award winning restaurant bar, Murky Waters. Renaissance Community Loan Fund provided access to capital to the owners to expand their business

RCLF provided technical assistance and funding for Murky Waters, a restaurant started by three young college students who were unable to get a loan through a traditional lender. With the success of their first location in Gulfport, MS, Murky Waters returned to RCLF to finance their second location in Ocean Springs, MS along with a commissary and food truck. Murky Waters is now an award winning restaurant with four locations throughout Mississippi.

A group of people at the award ceremony held at Renaissance Community Loan Fund (RCLF) client and grant recipient JACO Machine LLC. RCLF offered disaster relief financing to eight Mississippi businesses.

RCLF, as a member of Federal Home Loan Bank Dallas, provided $160,000 in grant funding to eight Mississippi businesses who were devastated by tornado damage in August 2023. An award ceremony was held at RCLF client and grant recipient JACO Machine LLC in Amory, MS.

A happy family posing in front their brand new home

RCLF offers a variety of mortgage products for home purchase, home improvement, and refinance to families, like this one.  

The Strong family were able to move from Section 8 housing into a home of their own through Renaissance Community Loan Fund.

RCLF offers a Section 8 Home Purchase Program where a client’s Section 8 voucher may be used toward the monthly mortgage payment after a home purchase.

Pictured above is the Strong family who were able to move from Section 8 housing into a home of their own through RCLF.

Renaissance Community Loan Fund hosts free in-person and virtual financial and homebuyer education classes for its clients

As a HUD approved housing counseling agency, RCLF hosts in-person and virtual financial and homebuyer education classes at no charge to clients. 

Stay connected with Renaissance Community Loan Fund via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.  

Looking to Capitalize Your CDFI? 

Check out free session recordings from OFN’s recent CONNECT+ Forum focused on CDFI capitalization! Also, check out available training from OFN on Capitalization 101 and other high priority topics for mission-driven financial institutions. 


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