Transforming Oregon Through Impact Investing

After being laid off by two shoe repair shops during the recession, Julie Derrick of Portland realized she wanted to own her own shop. But as a single mother and the only income-earner in her household, securing a traditional loan would’ve been difficult, if not impossible.

Derrick sought assistance from Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO), a community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides business loans and training to low-income communities and other populations underserved by traditional banks.

“OCF’s investment in our fund is $2 million. Even though we ultimately have to pay it back, it’s money we can use immediately to help address Oregon’s affordable housing crisis.”

Executive Director of Network for Oregon Affordable Housing (NOAH)

With support from MESO over the past decade, Derrick has launched and expanded JD’s Shoe Repair. “I don’t know how anyone makes it in small business without something like MESO,” she says. “I just can’t picture my life without them, because there are so many stumbling blocks and so many things to figure out as a business person.”

OCF and its donor community launched the Oregon Impact Fund in May 2017 with business owners like Derrick in mind. This $20 million fund — which combines committed capital from 24 OCF donors with matching funds from the OCF endowment — supports MESO and other organizations that foster social, environmental and economic vitality in Oregon. Along with creating and retaining jobs in underserved communities, the Fund promotes affordable housing, education, natural resource management and access to health care.

For Craig Kelley, managing trustee of the Lora L. and Martin N. Kelley Family Foundation Trust, the Oregon Impact Fund aligns with his foundation’s movement toward achieving positive social and environmental change as well as financial returns. He sees OCF’s established role in Oregon as important to this goal. “The Kelley Family Foundation has an ability to be more nimble with risk-taking,” he says. “Participating in the lower-risk Oregon Impact Fund plays a complementary role.”

Currently, OCF’s impact investments are supporting proven organizations such as Community LendingWorks in Springfield, NOAH in Portland, and Craft3 in Astoria, Bend, Klamath Falls and Portland. With investments ranging from $500,000 to $2 million, the Oregon Impact Fund allows Oregonians like Julie Derrick to realize their personal dreams while also helping their communities to thrive.