In this blog post, we’ll learn a little more about our Executive Director Mark Masterson – including why he works at the Neighborhood Community Development Fund.

I’ve been with the Neighborhood Community Development Fund (formerly the Northside Community Development Fund) for over 15 years. As someone with a lot of experience working with distressed communities, I could see that there were real credit needs for local nonprofits and local small businesses. I’m also someone who likes to see practical results. Unfortunately, I could see firsthand what lack of credit was doing to businesses and neighborhoods around Pittsburgh. Helping them get the financing they needed to thrive was something concrete and real I could do to help make a difference.

I Love What I Do
Visiting our loan customers and talking about how things are going is one of the best parts of the job. I like to know how we’re doing from their perspective, and their energy is contagious – these loan customers are so excited about their new businesses. Their excitement fuels my own enthusiasm, reenergizing me to do more at the Neighborhood Community Development Fund. I also truly enjoy the team we’ve assembled, and I’m proud of the way we’ve grown together as a force for good. My philosophy has always been to hire the smartest people I could, and then empower them to succeed by removing any obstacles that may stand in their way.

Our Mission Resonates With Me
I’m passionate about helping local businesses get access to the resources they need because I’ve worked and lived in low-income, underserved neighborhoods for almost my entire life. I didn’t have much growing up. In my entire extended family, I was the first to graduate from college.

I’ve also had the experience of being turned down for loans at banks. The business I started prior to joining the Neighborhood Community Development Fund was turned down for funding. These experiences have given me an intimate understanding of the key role that access to affordable financing is to small businesses, especially those owned by low-income people or those who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color).

That’s why we’re geared towards trying to find a way to say “yes,” instead of rejecting someone based on their credit score. We want to see what was happening in your life – after all, we shouldn’t penalize you because of medical expenses, or student debt, or a divorce. Life happens, and we strive to take that into account when dealing with our customers.

I’m Proud of Our Work
In particular, I’m proud of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the day of the shut-down order, we immediately suspended the payment requirement for all loan customers. Then, we called every single loan customer we had, in order to see if they needed cash. We closed 13 emergency bridge loans to get cash to the customers that needed it. In the end, none of our loan customers went out of business – which was no small feat. Additionally, we discovered that our services were needed in other parts of the region, which led to our expansion plans.

Helping to create the PA CDFI Network is another accomplishment I’m proud of. You can read more about that here.

Why Partner With Us?
Local entrepreneurs – we can help you find the “yes” you’re looking for. Whether you need financing for your business or other assistance, give us a call or email us to start a pre-application on our website. We’re all committed to helping you attain your goals and dreams.

Like I said, we don’t base our decision solely on a credit score – and our default rate is less than 1%. There are many reasons contributing to this, but I think it comes down to our approach. You see, we make the loan work for the business and the owner. And if you hit a rough spot along the way, we’re here to help.

Learn more about the ways we can help here.