Green Banking for Business Owners

Submitted by Mary Meade on September 6, 2020
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As a green business, you align your products and practices with your values—but does your bank align with your values, too?

Where you choose to bank has an impact on people and the planet. When your company acquires a loan or opens an account, your dollars are going to projects that the bank chooses to fund. Some banks specifically invest in the success of green businesses like yours—and some banks will loan to drilling projects in the Arctic and will not fairly serve diverse communities.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy, driving innovation and creating two-thirds of net new jobs, according to the US Small Business Administration. Therefore, where your small company banks matters. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including banks and credit unions, finance local projects that enhance traditionally under-served communities. When your small business banks with these types of financial institutions, your dollars are reinvested into the local economy, which brings more customers to your door.

“What most distinguishes CDCUs [Community Development Credit Unions] from mainstream financial institutions is the support we provide to help small businesses and entrepreneurs think through the capital they need to best grow their business,” says Cathie Mahon, president and CEO of Inclusiv. Inclusiv, headquartered in New York but serving people across the country, is one such CDFI committed to closing gaps and removing barriers to financial opportunities for people living in underserved communities.

Unlike megabanks that prioritize the projects of corporations—too often at the expense of local communities—many small financial institutions invest in projects to grow the community. Therefore, mission-driven financial institutions have a vested interest in the success of your small business. If your company fails, the small bank or credit union loses, too.

Mahon notes how the COVID-19 crisis has further exposed the gaps in the financial system. Thousands of small businesses have suffered on account of the pandemic, particularly minority and social purpose enterprises.CDFIs across the country have stepped into that gap and are meeting crucial, time-sensitive capital needs for businesses. Inclusiv has offered relief to their community through increased credit lines, deferral of loan payments, eliminated ATM fees and late payment fees, as well as expanded emergency relief loans.

Break Up With Your Megabank:

× Find a better bank near you with Green America's Better Bank directory. If you don't have one in your city, reach out to one in your state—you still might be able to work with them.

× Open your new account. Keep your old account open while you order checks, debit cards, and deposit slips. 

× Move your automatic deposits to your new account. Once you have sufficient funds in the account, move your automatic withdrawals and payments.

× Get print or electronic copies of statements and canceled checks from your megabank in case you need them later. 

× Transfer the remaining funds from your megabank account to your new account. Close your megabank account!

× Tell your megabank why you're breaking up with it. Personalize a sample letter to let them know.

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