Youma Ba, owner of Kilimanjaro Restaurant located in Philadelphia received funding from TEC Capital

Youma Ba, owner of Philadelphia-based restaurant Kilimanjaro Catering, secured funding from TEC Capital to support its reopening. The restaurant is set to reopen by May 2024.

Philadelphia CDFI Promotes Racial and Economic Equity Through Investment in Small Businesses

Roland Kamara, Membership Associate, Opportunity Finance Network

OFN member TEC Capital focuses on seed equity, Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and other opportunities to create prosperity for all.

Read time: 4 minutes

Ian Lawrence, Executive Vice President of OFN member The Enterprise Center Capital Corporation, a CDFI dedicated to fostering an inclusive economy and promoting opportunity and prosperity for all

As we celebrate National Small Business Week, we’re highlighting Philadelphia-based member The Enterprise Center Capital Corporation (TEC Capital). Recently we connected with Ian Lawrence, Executive Vice President, to learn more about this community development financial institution’s (CDFI) work. 

For over three decades, TEC Capital has promoted racial and economic equity by supporting the growth of diverse small businesses and partnering with the West Philadelphia community to revitalize underinvested local neighborhoods.  

As a trusted mediator, TEC Capital brings together businesses, communities, partners, and resource providers with the goal of equal opportunity and prosperity for all. 

Learn about TEC Capital and the community it serves, upcoming projects and initiatives, and Lawrence’s call to action for the CDFI industry. 

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

I ended up at TEC Capital after connecting with our CEO, Della Clark, through an introduction facilitated by an industry colleague. My passion for economic community development is driven by my belief in the power of entrepreneurship to drive positive change and create opportunities for wealth creation for underrepresented communities. 

Della Clark is the CEO of TEC Capital, a CDFI dedicated to fostering an inclusive economy and promoting opportunity and prosperity for all.

What’s the biggest opportunity for TEC Capital to create more impact?
 

The biggest opportunity to create greater impact that our organization is considering is participating in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund programs. This once-in-a-generation opportunity provides us and other CDFIs with a unique opportunity to increase access to affordable, resilient, clean solar energy for millions of low-income households.

OFN has been and continues to be at the forefront of this initiative, and we are honored to have supported OFN’s applications for this historic opportunity. 

In the past few years, what project do you believe has had the biggest impact on the community you serve?
 

In recent years, the creation of our seed equity fund has had the most impact on the community we serve. Through this fund, we invest patient capital in exceptional minority and women entrepreneurs at the earliest stages of development to provide them with the necessary runway to foster innovation and drive growth across several high-growth sectors. 

What is TEC Capital’s biggest challenge in 2024?
 

Our most pressing challenges revolve around effectively managing borrower default rates in this uncertain economic environment, combating interest margin compression, and securing low-cost capital. 

What advice do you have for people interested in learning about community development and the CDFI Industry?
 

For individuals interested in learning about community development and the CDFI industry in particular, my advice would be to immerse yourself in the industry by seeking out networking opportunities such as the OFN Conference and connecting with industry professionals. Volunteering or interning with a CDFI, especially if you are a student, is also a wonderful way to get involved and gain valuable experience. 
 

Stay connected with The Enterprise Center by following them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

Learn and Connect 

Interested in delving deeper into the CDFI industry? Explore OFN’s training and toolkits designed to help CDFI practitioners and partners expand their knowledge and skills to achieve the greatest impact in their communities. 

Also, sign up for CDFI Connect. This platform is the ideal place for knowledge exchange, idea incubation, professional networking, sharing industry events, job openings, and staying connected with peers.


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