Can One Size Fit All? The Case of ACEM and Community Credit
This case study focuses on the Montreal Community Loan Fund (ACEM), which fights poverty and exclusion through the administration of community credit. More specifically, ACEM provides training and offers loans to marginalized and vulnerable people for pre-start-up, start-up, and consolidation of businesses. The case describes ACEM's recent history and how the organization long chose to increase the scale of community credit services through collaborations and partnerships, avoiding for decades the need to grow its own organization. In 2012, ACEM broke with tradition and launched its own scaling process to double its size. The case thus describes an organization trying to stay focused on its social mission and core values while ensuring its own financial stability and protecting the interests of the network of independent community credit organizations that it co-founded. It thus provides an opportunity to discuss the variants of scaling and the challenges faced by a growing not-for-profit organization. The case ends by describing a dilemma regarding ACEM's financial instability. Students will be asked to make a decision regarding the current scaling process and propose a sustainable model that will make ACEM less dependent on government grants while respecting its core values.