Outstanding Performance > Best New Product
CNote is a pioneering fintech platform that is closing the wealth gap by directing investor dollars to women- and minority-led small businesses, affordable housing and economic development in financially underserved communities across America.
In March 2019, CNote launched the Wisdom Fund, a fixed income fund created to close the lending gap for women by funneling money from accredited investors into CDFIs that provide small-business loans for women, with a focus on low-income women of color. The product pays an annual return of 4% while investing in women entrepreneurs across America.
The Fund, created in partnership with mission-driven lender CDC Small Business Finance and four other CDFIs, will also gather data about product-level needs and barriers to lending for women and innovate sustainable solutions to drive wealth creation for U.S. women, who receive less than 5% of small business loan dollars.
CNote’s products are the first to unlock CDFIs as an asset class and leverage a technology-first approach in the CDFI space while diversifying investments across a nationwide network of federally certified community lenders. Furthermore, its products provide a fixed-income option for investors looking to diversify their portfolios.
CNote’s flagship product—available to all investors—provides a sustainable capital source for CDFIs, offers attractive liquidity and generates competitive returns (2.75%), and increases economic opportunity in communities that need it most. Since 2017, the product has helped create or maintain over 2,500 jobs and fund more than 400 small-business loans.
The company’s CEO and co-founder, Cat Berman, launched CNote in 2017 to allow anyone—individuals, wealth holders or institutions—to invest in equality. CNote was named the 2017 SXSW Best Startup Pitch Company, and was featured in Fast Company for putting “idle savings account funds toward the public good” and this year in Forbes.