Letter from the CEO

At the start of the pandemic, Bridgeway responded by using capital as a tool to create opportunities and combat injustices. As we continued our work in 2021, Bridgeway redefined the mission, values, and strategies that will guide the organization as it moves forward.

2021 was an important year at Bridgeway Capital. With the launch of our new 2021 – 2026 Strategic Plan, Bridgeway has committed to investing $100 million within five years. Fifty percent of the funding will be directed to formerly redlined areas and other underserved areas in and contiguous to the City of Pittsburgh. The other half of the funding will be directed to small towns and other areas experiencing the effects of disinvestment. To meet these bold deployment goals Bridgeway’s staff has spent much of the past year engaging a broad array of stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of their communities’ specific needs. With this knowledge, Bridgeway has begun to tailor its products, programs, and lending practices to meet those needs.

We introduced new initiatives and policies that acknowledge the systemic racial injustice that Bridgeway’s lending products and business assistance programs aim to overcome. New real estate focused programming such as our Building Inclusive Development (BID) program for emerging African American developers and the Origins Room to Grow Residency for Black creatives activated 96,000 SF of commercial space. Bridgeway’s core Business Assistance Programs, including the Entrepreneurship Hub and Creative Business Accelerator, delivered 5,540 hours of business assistance that helped clients build stronger business fundamentals and facilitated $815,434 in transactions that helped them pursue real opportunities for growth.

To combat the practice of redlining in low-income communities, Bridgeway eliminated the use of property appraisals for real estate loans under $700,000. Property appraisals have been historical drivers to perpetuate low property values, deny access to capital, or charge high-interest rates. Property appraisals add an extra expense to the borrower and can delay the loan approval timeline. These expenses can be difficult for our clients to afford and the timing delays can result in properties being sold to other buyers. Revising our policy is just one step towards removing barriers to accessing capital in communities that have been negatively impacted by unjust discriminatory practices.

Reviewing year-end results for the fiscal year 2021, Bridgeway closed 111 loans totaling $18.9 million, $14 million of which was lent in targeted investment areas identified under the new strategic plan. 91% of Bridgeway’s FY21 financing was made to clients located in low-income and moderate-income communities. Bridgeway’s lending to African-American clients exceeded 40% of the total annual dollars lent. Furthermore, there had historically been a substantial gap in the average loan size between African American clients and non-African American clients, but in the past two years that gap has been erased. Significantly, while overall lending fell from $23 million in FY19 to $14.5 million in FY20 due to the pandemic, lending to African American clients almost doubled, from $2.6 million to $5.9 million. In FY21, the number increased further to $8.2 million. While maintaining our commitment to lend to African American entrepreneurs at every stage of the business life cycle, Bridgeway has strengthened relationships with African American-led non-profits and developers, driving the increase in average loan size.

Bridgeway’s financial condition remains strong. Net losses were below 0.6% for the year. Total consolidated net assets increased by $2.7 million to $51 million, with unrestricted assets increasing by $4.6 million to $46.6 million. Liquidity remains very strong with Bridgeway well positioned to increase lending for the foreseeable future.

Looking back, Bridgeway has registered strong impact and financial results through the period of the COVID pandemic. With its new strategic plan, Bridgeway has recommitted itself to its mission and values. I hope you will take the time to review this annual report and learn more about Bridgeway’s work. You will get to know some of the inspiring clients that we partner with to make the places where we invest equitable and thriving, where people secure quality jobs, build successful businesses, and develop vibrant communities. Thank you for your continued support of Bridgeway Capital.

Read the next chapter of our 2021 Annual Report.

Impact Numbers