Challenging the status quo

City First Enterprises began as a response to a series of questions: What if the most overlooked and the least represented among us lived in properly invested neighborhoods? How could we assist promising innovators who are struggling with growing their businesses? What if there were a community-based financial institution that worked alongside undervalued communities to ensure access to capital, resources, and expertise that was typically out of their reach?

Built on ingenuity, our nation owes much of its success to entrepreneurs and community advocates of diverse backgrounds. Yet despite their enormous impact, many of these businesses and organizations — and their leaders — are overlooked and undercapitalized. We’ve seen firsthand how underserved local communities continue to experience economic distress and a lack of available resources. Now is the time for change.

Since its inception, for nearly three decades, the City First family of organizations has prioritized democratized access to financial products and services. As you follow along in this year’s impact report, you will read about the difference our neighbors make every day across the region. CFE’s commitment to them and other changemakers is steadfast – always challenging the status quo.

We pledge to continue to use our resources to advance CFE’s mission, build resilience, and co-create communities of opportunity, equity, and well-being. Thank you for being a part of the journey.


Headshot of Oswaldo Acosta

Oswaldo Acosta

President and CEO

Our Mission

City First Enterprises helps achieve racial, economic, and social equity by providing underinvested communities with access to capital and financial expertise for affordable housing, education, nonprofits, small businesses, and climate-focused initiatives.

At CFE, we believe in people.

We are bound by the core value that individuals in low-income, undervalued communities deserve access to affordable capital and the opportunities it brings. Economic justice means improved quality of life now — and hope for future generations, too.

Neighbors Supporting Neighbors

CFE is grateful for the authentic partnership and collective resources provided by our network of collaborators. Together, in the past two years, we:

Leveraged $121 million in financing with $19.8 million provided though CFE’s Equitable Growth Fund. During this time, the outstanding portfolio doubled, growing by 101%.
Provided $18.5 million in financing to small businesses, including small developers and commercial real estate transactions.
Created affordable housing for 1,700+ area residents
In partnership with Montgomery County Green Bank and DC Green Bank, invested $6.7 million in projects utilizing green energy through CFE’s new One Climate Fund.
Expanded 100 seats in high-quality subsidized childcare, as well as space in innovative DC public charter schools, benefitting 3,300+ students.
Helped design and manage six local government grant programs via CFE’s Social Equity Investments initiative, contracted to disburse $84 million in funds to build greater economic resiliency.

Our growth in lending, grants management, and technical assistance has helped stabilize those in crisis while propelling individuals, households, and communities forward.

Growth in Portfolio and Impact

A Shared Region

Mapping the Impact: CFE Portfolio, December 31, 2021

True Inclusivity

The past two years have demonstrated the urgency of maintaining resilient communities — and the critical role that lenders play in achieving this goal. The COVID-19 pandemic hit hardest fort hose burdened by historical and ongoing disparities – largely communities of color in the DC and Baltimore metro areas. The desire to reverse inequity has driven CFE for decades, and 2021 was a reminder of how much work remains.


We offer flexible and customized financing through the Equitable Growth Fund’s various loan products and also are a go-to partner for government agencies that are bolstering small businesses and affordable housing providers via grants. In 2021, CFE deployed more than $47 million to 733 local projects through lending and grants.


We work hands on to build the capacity of community developers who have innovative affordable housing and economic development projects but need help finding a viable path forward.


By delivering capital and building capacity, we help spark positive community change and make the DC and Baltimore metro areas more equitable. Our investments have helped borrowers create thousands of permanent jobs and housing units.

Our 2021 Financing Was to:

23% to women-led/owned organizations

59% to African American-owned/led organizations

9% to Hispanic/Latinx-owned/led organizations

5% to Native American-owned organizations

Investing in Community

Investing in Our Future

Today, more than one million American children live in unstable housing, most of whom face significant environmental, social, and emotional circumstances that threaten their futures. Educational inequality tops the list, highlighting the powerful influences of wealth, gender, race, and ethnicity. The global health pandemic highlighted the instability of many childcare businesses and nonprofits, and CFE is working steadily to expand the number of seats in high-quality facilities. Our goal as a social impact lender is to leverage the Equitable Growth Fund to:

Increase financial sustainability

Empower childcare leaders

Invest capital in high-quality childcare providers

This Is CFE.
BCDC logo

Broadcasters’ Child Development Center

Washington, DC

In early 2020, the Broadcasters’ Child Development Center (BCDC) was bustling with activity. Located in Washington, DC, the center was popular among neighborhood families, and waitlists for a coveted spot in the infant and toddler rooms were a clear sign it was time to expand. Having recently relocated to a larger space, the nonprofit center was in the midst of renovating their new facility, including with financing from CFE.

However, like thousands of area businesses, BCDC was forced to close its doors abruptly in March 2020. Just as quickly, renovations came to a halt and the once thriving center found itself in a difficult financial situation. “City First Enterprises has been so patient with us,” said Executive Director Kim Mohler. “When the pandemic struck, we had to request deferment because we had no income when we signed the loan documentation. We were very fortunate that CFE honored the loan.”

Three months after shutting down operations, BCDC reopened its doors to a small number of families. “We took a significant dip in enrollment,” Kim explained. However, as the months passed, parents returned to the workplace and enrollments began to soar. “Today,” she added, “we’re nearly back at capacity.”

The pandemic’s financial consequences have had a dramatic impact on community-serving organizations like BCDC. “We’re so thankful to be afloat and to have retained our staff during our closure. We couldn’t have done that without City First Enterprises. Our facility wouldn’t exist without their help.” To learn more about the BCDC, visit

Investing in Small Business

For many Black and Brown small business owners, the opportunity to invest in communities of color is worth the challenge that entrepreneurship entails. However, small businesses continue to face significant barriers amid the pandemic, with the differences largely falling along racial lines.

According to the 2021 Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey, there are stark disparities by the race of business owners. While 57% of surveyed businesses characterized their financial condition as “fair” or “poor,” this figure jumped to 77% for Black-owned firms and 66% for Latinx-owned companies.

CFE has close ties with the communities we serve and is especially skilled in financing underinvested minority-owned small businesses. We ensure capital gets to the small business owners who need it most while also stimulating economic development and job creation and helping to revitalize the region’s vibrant communities.

This Is CFE.

Angel Gregorio

Creator and Curator, the Spice Suite

In 2015, Angel Gregorio walked by a vacant storefront and in a matter of moments, turned it into a business idea that stemmed from her passion for flavor. As she stepped away from a career in education to open the shop, Gregorio’s story became a leap of faith. “The Spice Suite is probably the most serendipitous thing I’ve ever done,” she says. According to the Washington, D.C. native, it’s now a seven-figure business supported by a profitable online store.

Unlike many retail businesses, The Spice Suite defied the pandemic, earning $1.5 million in revenue for 2020. However, no business story is without its stumbling blocks. While working with a bank to acquire commercial property, Gregorio admits there were roadblocks along the way, and the transaction was nearly lost. “City First Enterprises stepped in and held my hand throughout the process,” she says. “They saved the deal and got me to closing ahead of time.”
Over the last several years, Gregorio has made it her mission to empower others. The Spice Suite now doubles as a steppingstone for Black female entrepreneurs, each of whom sells handmade or specially sourced products through regular popups hosted by the store.

CFE provided Gregorio with essential technical assistance, mentoring her on various aspects of the acquisition process. In addition to the lending capital, the CFE Grants Management Team helped her with a grant application to the DC Commercial Property Acquisition Fund, allowing her to grow The Spice Suite while mitigating financial risk. “We’ve created jobs and a community around this business,” adds Gregorio. “It’s been awesome.”

We’re proud to be a part of Angel Gregorio’s story and look forward to seeing her continued success. Learn more at

Investing in Safe Places to Live

The DC region has reached an inflection point regarding affordable housing for moderate and low-income households. We must create new units and renovate existing units so they don’t go into disrepair. We also must invest in temporary housing for the most at-risk among us.

CFE is committed to working alongside communities and our other partners to help resolve this crisis. We provide financing to affordable housing developers, as well as nonprofits that provide essential services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault — and their families — so they can rebuild their lives on their own terms.

This Is CFE.
DC Safe logo


Washington, DC

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, DC SAFE empowers domestic violence survivors with immediate and tangible resources. Since its inception in 2006, the organization has served more than 25,000 individuals in crisis. In an effort to better serve the region’s most vulnerable residents, DC SAFE is constructing a larger facility. Once complete, the space will double the current capacity, offering 30 apartment-style units that can house more than 700 survivors and families each year.

To ensure this community resource continues its vital work, CFE joined forces with Blue Hub Capital, providing a $2.93 million subordinate loan to help finance the development of a mixed-use property. Although smaller in amount, subordinate loans are considered higher risk since they are unsecured, and they are critical to the borrower’s success in receiving all the financing they need.

DC SAFE has become a leading force in the fight against domestic violence in the District of Columbia. The organization works collaboratively to break the cycle of violence, reduce the likelihood of future abuse, and decrease the risk of homicide. Learn more about this vital community resource at

A building under-construction

Investing in Resilience:
The One Climate FundTM

Safe. Healthy. Affordable. Imagine a future with eco-focused neighborhoods and businesses that optimize renewable energy.

Through the new One Climate FundTM, CFE provides innovative financing solutions to ensure residents and entrepreneurs have access to the region’s evolving clean economy.

In partnership with the DC and Montgomery County Green Banks, CFE already has underwritten, serviced, financed, and/or provided technical assistance for $4.9 million in projects that advance environmental sustainability. An extension to CFE’s mission-driven financing, the One Climate FundTM centers affordability, sustainability, and economic development in communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Solutions such as rooftop solar installations and other energy efficient upgrades lower the utility costs for business owners while raising the bottom line.

By financing energy-efficiency projects through CFE’s One Climate FundTM, we are moving the region toward both economic and climate justice. The projects save energy, lower emissions, create healthy living and working environments, and help achieve crucial environmental goals.

This Is CFE.
Chris Vanarsdale

Chris VanArsdale

Managing Partner, Heleos

Housing developer Chis VanArsdale can spot a diamond in the rough like no one else.  For the past 20 years, he’s focused his efforts on revitalizing neighborhoods to create safe and affordable spaces. Like many developers, he often renovates existing properties neglected by previous owners. However, Chris takes it one step further and aims to create net-zero and near net-zero energy projects. Today, as the Managing Partner for Heleos, he’s working on some incredible transformations that are made possible with the help of City First Enterprises.

His latest project, Dance Loft, aims to ensure that the arts remain alive and well in Northwest DC. The restored space will offer mixed-income affordable housing, a Blackbox theatre, dance studios, and space for both storefronts or restaurants. “I’ve worked with City First Enterprises for over 15 years and they have been involved with the planning and acquisition process for many of my projects,” Chris stated. “Not only do they help us engage with the artists’ community, but their assistance ensures that we can continue to create safe and sustainable neighborhoods.”

Resource-efficient communities, like what is envisioned for Dance Loft, address the urgency of creating affordable housing while also mitigating climate change. Learn how Heleos is paving the way for smart, healthy, and affordable environments at

Social Equity Investments

Grants Management

Small Business Recovery Microgrants

CFE managed $5 million in grants for small, local businesses, independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and nonprofits to meet their short-term financial needs. Grants ranged from $1,000 to $14,000 and covered wages and benefits, inventory, rent, utilities, and more.

Restaurant Bridge Fund

CFE administered more than $34 million in grants to restaurant and food services establishments that were experiencing significant economic distress and had plans to respond and adapt accordingly. The businesses received grants ranging from $10,000 to $62,000.

Small Business Resiliency Fund

Through this $3 million program, CFE provided $10,000 grants to 300 local businesses. Qualifying businesses included independently owned restaurants of any size and companies with 50 or fewer employees.

Housing Stabilization Grants

CFE administered the Small Housing Providers section of the stabilization grants program, providing more than $2 million in grants to housing providers with 20 units or fewer in their portfolio, simultaneously assisting renters and stabilizing properties heading toward distress.

Commercial Property Acquisition Fund

The $4 million Commercial Property Acquisition Fund provides down payment assistance through grants of up to $750,000 to eligible businesses whose owners have been economically disadvantaged and/or have been subjected to bias and aim to buy commercial property in DC.

Bridge Fund

The $40 million Bridge Fund supports the economic recovery and long-term viability of small businesses in the retail, restaurant, and entertainment sectors. In late 2021, CFE helped ready the fund for its early 2022 launch.

$84 million dollars to be disbursed

Processed 3,183 applications and approved funds for 2,231 grantees

Grants from $1,000 to $725,000

Be a Changemaker

As a community development financial institution, City First Enterprises delivers high-impact capital to the people and places that need it most. But we can’t do it alone.

Investing with City First Enterprises

CFE is committed to making investment more effective, efficient, and personally fulfilling. Drawing on our deep resources, we can work with you to design and implement your goals. Whether an individual or institutional investor, adding CFE to your portfolio allows you to align your investments with your values and to contribute to underinvested communities.

If you believe, as we do, that everyone is entitled to equitable access to affordable housing, high-quality community services, and economic opportunity, then help us deliver the tools that people need to achieve the promise of progress and prosperity.

City First Icon

Your commitment makes ours possible.

Impact investing can be an effective strategy to improve the stability of your portfolio while supporting local communities. Please contact to learn more.


Capital Impact Partners-CDC Small Business Fund
Citi Foundation
DC Mayor’s Office
City First Broadway
DC Department of Housing and Community Development
DC Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking
DC Department of Small and Local Business Development
DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
Enhancing Black Business Credit Initiative
JP Morgan Chase
Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
New Venture Fund
Opportunity Finance Network
PNC Bank
Prosperity Now
US Bank
U.S. Treasury
Wells Fargo
Yale Community and Economic Development Clinic


Capital Magnet Fund Coalition
Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Development
Community Development Network of Maryland
Food Lenders Network
Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers
National Children’s Facilities Network
Nonprofit Montgomery
Prince George’s County Housing Opportunity For All Workgroup
Purple Line Corridor Coalition
Small Business Owners Bill of Rights
Virginia CDFI Coalition