The national network of Enterprise Lending Community Development Finance Institutions (ELCDFIs) has met continuously for 10 years to share best knowledge, information and practice. The ELCDFIs are all members of Responsible Finance, the CDFI sector's trade body.
Following on from the work undertaken by the ELCDFI group, a review of the common bonds that tie the sector together was required. This original work being an attempt to reassert the sector as a force for change within the enterprise lending arena. This document is an attempt to define the common ties, those elements of our organisations that unite us in common purpose.
This document is an attempt at creating a charter to which each committed ELCDFI can sign. The document defines the distinct characteristics that make up an ELCDFI as well as their collective purpose and mission.
In recognition of the location in which the enterprise lenders met and agreed this standard the charter has been named the ELCDFI Charter.
The six principles of the charter are summarised in the following headings;
The Six Principles of the Charter
The Substance of the Six Principles
What does it mean for those signatories to the charter? The ELCDFI will commit not only to abide by and monitor activity against these standards, but also seek to exemplify and promote these standards across the wider sector.
1. Using finance to support inclusive growth across our areas of expertise
We commit to use finance in a creative and positive way to support the social and economic well being of the areas and communities we serve. We use that finance to create jobs, to protect jobs and ultimately increase the economic wellbeing of the area. Crucially, the sector’s interventions can lead to improvements in living standards, individuals’ sense of well-being, wealth creation, new entrepreneurial ventures, new jobs as well as a more vibrant economy. This is facilitated through ensuring that these communities are better positioned to generate local opportunities for themselves and withstand the impact of economic shocks by becoming more economically resilient.
2. Using finance as a positive force, helping to enable wider social and environmental impacts where possible
Everything we do is about impact. Everything we do is about making positive differences for the economic and social wellbeing of the areas we serve. Inequalities in ‘Access to finance’ can lead to discrimination, it can lead to alienation and ultimately lead to separation – we as ELCDFIs do everything to act as a positive force. We commit to measure, monitor and report on positive interventions we make for the furtherance of our objects. We commit to providing to stakeholders and clients appropriate reports on how we have achieved our objects and mission.
3. Remove wherever possible the barriers that communities and individuals have in seeking finance
In seeking to meet our objects, we take a different view when dealing with our clients. We commit to treat our clients consistently and fairly, we lend responsibly and we remove those barriers that our clients have in accessing finance.
4. Be a force for change within the financial services sector, seeking to make finance equitable, fair, open and transparent.
Everything we do is to further the objects of our mission. We also act as disrupters to the pervading culture of a biased and, sometimes, malfunctioning financial system. We exist to meet, promote and support the rights of individuals and organisations to access fair and appropriate finance.
We treat all people the same, we are blind to religion, race, disability or gender and we strive to overcome inequalities and discrimination within the financial sector. We go further in providing information and endeavour where practical to share the impact we have in the communities we serve. We seek to deliver more effective ‘wraparound’ support for people with multiple barriers while simultaneously helping mainstream providers achieve shared outcomes, through emphasis on partnership working.
5. Operate to the highest standards of ethics, integrity, honesty and fidelity as beacons of best practice and exemplary governance within the financial services sector to which their boards are committed.
We are ethical organisations that are committed to operate to the highest standards of transparency, honesty and integrity. All our staff are trained to deliver the services we provide to these standards. We elect to operate to these standards to set ourselves apart and demonstrate that it is imperative to serve communities with their trust and support.
The charter acknowledges that we serve at the will and consent of our clients. Losing their trust undermines our whole raison d’etre. Likewise, our board members are those representatives of the community who recognise we operate at the consent of our clients, and exemplify the standards required to operate within this sector.
6. To use our profits/surplus to further the objects of each of our organisations
Our organisations are committed to making change within the areas and the communities we serve. We acknowledge that, as financial institutions, we could maximise our profits for the benefit of investors and stakeholders, but we are marked by our commitment to provide appropriate finance, within a fair process, to benefit our clients. Any surpluses are used to further those aims, and meet the objectives of our organisations.