Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Cooperative Fund of New England (CFNE)?
The Cooperative Fund of New England is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that makes loans to cooperatives, employee owned businesses, and community based nonprofits.
Where does CFNE get its money?
Socially responsible investment loans are made by various individuals, religious organizations, cooperatives, banks, intermediaries and foundations.
To whom does CFNE lend?
We make loans to cooperatives, employee owned businesses, and community based nonprofits in New England and eastern New York.
What is a cooperative?
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. (International Co-operative Alliance Statement on the Co-operative Identity)
Cooperatives exist in every sector of the economy, including food retail, housing, agriculture, financial services, and manufacturing. Profits from cooperatives aren't siphoned off to a single outside owner, but reinvested in the community fro which they came, serving their own members economically, socially, and educationally.
Cooperatives are community-builders. People often shop at, live in, or work for cooperatives because co-ops make a special effort to be active participants in improving the lives of neighborhood families.
Cooperatives are democracies. All co-op members have a voice in making decisions about what direction the enterprise takes. In this way, members gain valuable skills in governance, finance, management, and more.
Is CFNE a cooperative?
No, but we use consensus decision-making, our workplace is democratic, and the board is from the cooperative community we serve.
How do I apply for a loan?
First, call our office at 1-800-818-7833 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will put you in touch with a Loan Outreach Officer to discuss your organization's needs and assist you with completing our application, which can be downloaded here.
How long does it take?
Our process usually includes a site visit from one of our outreach coordinators but we generally estimate 3-4 weeks from completing the application to funding.
What are your rates and terms?
Terms generally range from 3-7 years, rates are at or below market and vary based on the project's risk and the market.
Do we need collateral?
Yes, though we accept a wide range of collateral, including business assets, inventory, real estate, equipment, accounts or grants receivables, and guarantees.
How do I support CFNE?
You can make a loan or donation to CFNE. To make a donation, click the Donate button in the top right hand corner of the screen. You can also refer others to CFNE as borrowers or lenders, and you can support CFNE's borrowers.
What makes CFNE different from a bank?
CFNE is not federally regulated although we are a U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution. Social investment loans are not insured by any government agencies (like the FDIC) but one should look at our fund's history. Since our founding in 1975, no investor has lost any money.
What is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)?
A CDFI can be one of any number of financial institutions. The primary mission of CDFIs is to promote economic development in struggling areas, both urban and rural, that are underserved by traditional financial institutions. CDFIs are playing a critical role in building a healthier economy by providing these communities with the access to capital that they so sorely need. CDFIs can be credit unions, community loan funds (like CFNE), venture capital funds or community development banks. There are more than 500 CDFIs in the United States, with at least one in every state.
What is the Cooperative Capital Fund of New England (CCF)?
CCF is a CFNE affiliate providing long term equity-like funds to augment CFNE loans.
What is the difference between CFNE and CCF?
CCF and CFNE are separate nonprofits offering different products. CFNE provides loans secured by collateral, CCF provides longer-term, unsecured, patient equity capital for cooperatives.