As an investor, you can use your dollars to have a high impact in low-income communities. The investments below are generally long term (one to five years) and offer market or below-market returns (0% to 4%). For investors with greater risk tolerance, the following options will help your investing dollar go a long way in building communities. These investments are not federally insured.

Community Development Loan Funds provide low cost financing for housing and economic development projects, cooperatives and community based non-profit organizations. These loan funds use grant money and pre-funded loss reserves to help protect individual investors. While not insured, loss rates are less than 2 percent.

Microenterprise Loan Funds provide small loans and training to entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad to create economic development and jobs.

Community Development Venture Capital Funds provide equity to businesses that are creating jobs in low-income communities.

International Funds provide support for international community development including small loans and training to entrepreneurs, and financing for projects that promote jobs and economic development.

Creating Thriving Businesses
In Washington and Oregon states, low-income entrepreneurs look to the Cascadia Revolving Fund. A Cascadia loan permitted the start-up of Little Angels' Home Daycare in Renton, Washington, a minority woman-owned business that provides daycare to six children. Cascadia's Olympic Micro-loan Fund helped displaced timberworker Greg Pelham and his wife Darla of Port Townsend, Washington, purchase inventory and supplies and build a greenhouse for Perfect Touch Baskets, their hanging flower-basket business.

Use our convenient listing of Community Investing Institutions to find mutual funds that invest in communities.

To learn more about community investing options, go to How to become a community investor.

Want more information about socially responsible investing?
Order a copy of Co-op America's Financial Planning Handbook, hands-on guide to responsible financial planning for individuals. It includes a comprehensive introduction to socially responsible investing and a complete Social Investment Forum member directory.

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