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Bryce Butler rattles off statistics about poverty and community finance like a Louisville sports fan going on about the Cardinals. Instead of bootlegs and draws, however, Butler’s playbook includes Kiva loans, strategic real estate, non-traditional debt funds and direct investments for neighborhood revival.
Butler, the founder of Louisville-based Access Ventures, is keenly aware of the 40-year low in entrepreneurship rates, the community-banking downturn since the recession, and what author Lisa Servon calls the unbanking of America. That unbanking, according to Butler, has left entire swaths of the population unable to access the financial system.
Enter Access Ventures, the nonprofit venture firm Butler founded five years ago. Access coordinates a basket of loans, equity investments, grants and technical support for entrepreneurs and organizations making the local economy work for more people. Access is playing the role of community "quarterback," says Butler, an idea championed by social investor Kevin Jones.
"We need an organization or a person or an entity within these communities to sit above and say, 'OK, what’s the end goal?,'" Butler told ImpactAlpha. The community quarterback’s job, he says, is to ask, "What's keeping them from accessing the markets? And what solutions can we help bring to bear?"
Read the full article about Access Ventures' efforts at community impact investing in Louisville by Dennis Price at ImpactAlpha.