From the Ground Up: How Business Can Drive Financial Inclusion


Jeffrey Whitford
Head of Sustainability and Social Business Innovation for the Life Science Business Sector of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Catherine Berman
CEO of CNote

Renee Connolly
Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer and Head of Innovation HR Engagement & Inclusion at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Limited access to financial services continues to hold many U.S. communities back. As companies look to invest in the communities where they do business, efforts to improve financial inclusion have a compounding positive impact through small business growth, affordable housing expansion, and greater opportunities for individuals to build income and wealth.

In a recent example of this model in action, science and technology company Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, made a $20 million investment this fall with CNote, a women-led impact investment platform. The investment will provide capital to support BIPOC-owned (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and women-led small businesses and bolster economic growth and opportunity.

CNote deploys investor funds into deposit and loan products at community financial institutions that serve small businesses owned by women and people of color, fund affordable housing, and support other forms of economic inclusion. Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany’s investment targets U.S. regions where the company has substantial operations, including Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The focus on community financial institutions with a proven track record of serving the under-resourced has big potential for positive impact — and offers valuable lessons other business leaders can apply as they look to build tangible investment programs with comprehensive impact reporting.

Join Jeffrey Whitford, Head of Sustainability and Social Business Innovation for the Life Science business sector of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, CNote CEO Catherine Berman, and 3BL Media on December 14 at 1 p.m. ET as they discuss this beneficial partnership and how other businesses can apply this novel model to meet their diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

Time: 1:00 PM ET

Location: Virtual

Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2022