to our entire PCV community,
I’m immensely excited to have joined Pacific Community Ventures as President & CEO last month, and to advance the work that our outgoing CEO, Mary Jo Cook, and the PCV team have done in advancing good jobs for all.
Pacific Community Ventures envisions a world of thriving communities where everyone has a fair shake. That mission is as true and necessary today as it was at our founding. The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest in a generation, and investing for social and environmental impact is fully in the mainstream. Yet 60 million American workers are stuck in low-wage jobs with little opportunity for advancement, the number of small businesses is at an all-time low, wealth inequality is the highest ever recorded, automation is changing the future of work, and race and where you’re born are still the biggest factors influencing your long-term life outcomes.
At PCV, we leverage our skills and experience, networks and relationships, financial capital, and technology to empower small businesses and impact investors. To empower small business owners, we offer fair and affordable small businesses loans, and an online platform that connects business owners to pro-bono expert advisors for business growth. To empower impact investors and grow the field of impact investing, we conduct field building research and provide impact measurement, management, and evaluation consulting services.
Our small business and impact investing tools and strategies are united by a focus on creating good jobs for working people. To do that, PCV recently launched Good Jobs, Good Business – a free digital toolkit that provides small business owners tools, resources, and advice to achieve real short- and long-term cost savings by creating jobs that improve retention, employee performance, and productivity.
We know that business owners want to provide really good jobs for workers. We also know they aren’t always sure how to raise wages, offer health benefits, or better engage workers in ways that make sense for their budget and bottom line. We can’t ask small business owners to create ‘good jobs’ without giving them the tools, coaching, and roadmap to do so in ways that support their business’ needs. It’s been wonderful to talk with some of our pioneering entrepreneurs who worked on the toolkit with us, like Iliana from Kneaded Bakery, and Jen from Batter Bakery. I’ve been inspired to hear how our Business Advising platform is helping them on their journey towards creating good jobs for their workers and being the kinds of founders they hoped to be.
People of color start more small businesses than anyone else, and each year at least 50% are declined by traditional financial institutions when they apply for loans. In four years Pacific Community Ventures has evolved our lending portfolio from 17% people of color, to 53% people of color — and 61% women entrepreneurs. While we’re proud of that, there’s still work to be done. One of the first changes we made upon my starting as CEO was to use our portfolio analysis over the past year to amend our lending policy and make our working capital more accessible for black and brown founders. We did this by eliminating reporting of personal or business assets, and continue to advance our efforts to build equity and inclusion into our lending portfolio. As the child of immigrant entrepreneurs myself, I’m passionate about advancing access to capital to black and brow communities, along with our national business advising support, and supporting shared wealth ownership.
Our new Impact Due Diligence Guide walks impact investors through the process of developing and implementing a systematic approach to impact due diligence, operationalizing much of the approach of our partner, the Impact Management Project. While the practice of impact measurement and management has become increasingly sophisticated and widespread, most investors focus primarily on what happens after, not before, investments are made. If impact investors are really serious about achieving social and environmental impact with their investing, then we have to prioritize impact as part of due diligence, alongside financial risk and return. I’m excited to work with our team towards building a predictive impact tool in the impact investing space.
Elevating our work on quality jobs was a big part of why I accepted the Board role at PCV just over a year ago, and what excites me about taking on this leadership role now. I love working directly with entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and their communities at the same time. I’ve enjoyed getting to know a number of our advisors who feel similarly, and are increasingly becoming trained in the Good Jobs, Good Business toolkit to add further value to the entrepreneurs they’re matched with. I am also hopeful to leverage emerging technology and new partnerships in the coming year that will work to ensure that the future of work means better livelihoods, stronger local economies, and more equitable communities.
At PCV we’re investing in the inclusive economy we want to live in, as a way to help turn the tide for the greatest good. We hope that you will join us in this journey.