In August I wrote about the inherent difficulty in measuring social impact. Working at a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), communicating impacts to stake holders, both quantitatively and qualitatively, is a challenge. Fortunately, it is a challenge that Bridgeway Capital, a CDFI in Pittsburgh, PA has met with success. As Bridgeway Capital celebrates its 20th anniversary, I look at its history and impacts over the years.
Started in 1990 as a housing and social service lender, Bridgeway Capital broadened its economic impact on the Pittsburgh region by focusing on small business lending in 1994. Throughout its history, Bridgeway Capital has applied a blend of entrepreneurial vision, community knowledge and operational expertise to strengthen and help reinvent the employment base of local communities.
Bridgeway Capital’s mission, to make western Pennsylvania a thriving region for all, is carried out through three main loan products:
- Entrepreneur – loans to promising entrepreneurs for start-up or expansion. Often, these promising entrepreneurs need $35,000 or less to launch their venture or grow more steadily.
- Growth Capital – loans to established, expanding companies for fixed assets or working capital.
- 504 – loans to growing businesses that need long-term, fixed asset financing. These are healthy businesses that require real estate or equipment to expand. (through its affiliate, Bridgeway Capital CDC, a certified development company and regional economic development organization licensed by the SBA)
- creating and/or retaining 5,332 jobs (since tracking started in 2001)
- growing from $2500 in assets at its beginning to over $55 million under management today
- making 663 loans for over $72 million, which has leveraged nearly $270 million in additional financing
- boasting 64% of financing which benefited low-income people
The numbers don’t tell the whole story though. A look at Bridgeway Capital’s Impact Stories paints the whole picture of the individal borrowers, their businesses and how a loan impacted their lives, their families and their communities. These long-lasting impacts are often harder to quantify but equally important to report.
As Bridgeway Capital moves forward, it continues to look for ways to increase its impact, communicate that impact to its stakeholders and implement its mission. For more information about Bridgeway Capital and how it achieves its goals, take a look at its From Ideas to Impact Report.