Third sector must create 'social investors' coalition'

Community Development Finance Association leader calls for a more integrated agenda

Ben Hughes, interim chief executive, Community Development Finance Association
Ben Hughes, interim chief executive, Community Development Finance Association

Third sector lenders should create a "coalition of social investors" to develop an agenda for their sector, according to the interim chief executive of the Community Development Finance Association.

Ben Hughes, who took over at the umbrella organisation for community development finance institutions last month, told Third Sector that a diverse group of social investment organisations were working on a number of different issues, and that they needed to work together.

"There's a need for a coalition of social investors," he said. "We feel absolutely that there's a need for a more integrated agenda.

"There's a process of cultural evolution taking place, and we need to work together to make sure it's effective."

Hughes said that he hoped CDFIs could form partnerships at a local level with organisations such as housing associations, settlements and development trusts to make it easier to lend to people most in need of CDFI finance.

Rod Schwartz, chief executive of the social investment consultancy ClearlySo, said he thought the coalition was a bad idea.

"We don't all need to get together behind the same agenda," he said. "Let everyone ask for what they want and see who's successful. I quite like the chaos of a marketplace of ideas."

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