GROW Receives CDFI Designation to Further Support Economic Development


Grand Rapids, Michigan – Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) announced today the addition of a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) designation to their existing microloan program to provide financial services to meet the needs of economically disadvantaged individuals. In the past 4.5 years, GROW has provided over $1 million in microloan funds to businesses in West Michigan. In 2015 alone, GROW helped local individuals create more than 53 new businesses, fund 21 new start-ups, and create 92 jobs in these low to moderate income communities

“This CDFI designation provides us with additional funding for our loan program. Using creative and innovative financing products, GROW is able to provide loans and financial services to communities where resources are scarce,” said Bonnie Nawara, CEO of GROW. “In addition to our microloan program, we provide these entrepreneurs with training and business counseling services to help them learn about all aspects of owning and operating a business, helping them take it from an idea to start-up, and then to sustain their business over time.”

A CDFI, or Community Development Financial Institution, is a mission-driven financial institution dedicated to providing financial services to meet the needs of economically disadvantaged individuals within underserved communities. CDFIs invest in local communities and the residents by providing critically needed financing that is often unavailable from mainstream financial institutions.

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) is more than a resource for those who want to start their own business. They are a source of economic development and community impact through their microloan programs. These microloan programs provide funding alternatives to those who do not fit the criteria for traditional small business loans.

More than half of those GROW serves are low to moderate income individuals who want to start or build their business in West Michigan. GROW doesn’t just serve women either; of those they work with, 77% are women, and 23% are men. In addition, 51% of the businesses served by GROW’s microloan program are minority owned.

In a city that ranks among the best for economic development1, there is still a large part of the community that doesn’t have access to traditional resources. GROW provides these funding resources, along with guidance and mentorship to help.

For more information about GROW, please contact us today.



About CDFIs: CDFIs are certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund – known as the CDFI Fund. In order to become a certified CDFI, the financial institution must have a primary mission of promoting community development; provide financial products and services; serve one or more defined low-income target markets; maintain accountability to the community it serves; and be a legal non-governmental entity.

CDFIs are part of a national network promoting economic growth in America’s underserved communities by financing businesses, creating jobs, and rebuilding neighborhoods.