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By CNote

Giving Tuesday 2018

The Camp Fire is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history. The fires have charred an area the size of Chicago, razing over 14,000 residences, taking 85 victims, with hundreds more still missing. (source)

Given that CNote is an Oakland-based company, we wanted to support our neighbors to the north, that have been through so much, for #GivingTuesday Read More

By Borrower Stories

Julia & Keith Pooler – Sacramento Laundry Company

From Coin-Op to Hundreds of Employees – The Story of Julia and Keith Pooler

Often, we profile small businesses that may be solo operations or just have a handful of employees–yet the entrepreneurs that run those companies will always have a grand vision for just how big they can grow their companies. For many their benchmark may be focused on the number of customers they serve or the number of employees they have–but you can always be sure that the vision is ambitious. Read More

By CNote

Market Volatility and Your CNote Investment

The markets have been quite volatile over the last few weeks. Navigating wild price swings and the emotions that come with them can be a challenge, we wanted to share this brief note from the CNote CEO on what this volatility means for your investment in CNote. Read More

By CNote

CNote on the Stacking Benjamins Podcast

Catherine Berman, CNote CEO stopped by the “basement” to have a chat with Joe, the beloved host of the wildly popular Stacking Benjamins podcast.

If you’re looking to learn more about CNote and how it works, then this interview is worth a listen. We highly recommend you check out the entire episode, but if you just want to get to the CNote part, skip to 23:30. Read More

By CNote

Gender inequality is entrenched. Here are four things You can do about it.

Throughout my career in financial services, I was frequently the only woman in the room. I know all too well how it feels to be talked over, ignored, or simply excluded. I also know how different it can be – I feel lucky to have allies and mentors who made it clear that the bad experience is “on them” and definitely not because something is wrong with me. Read More

By Financial Planning

Where Can I Get Financial Advice?

Financial advice: Is it only for the 1%?

While the topic often invokes images of offshore tax havens and the management of large family estates, it is an outdated misconception that only those with a significant stockpile of cash can get access to top-tier financial advice. Read More

By Financial Planning

7 Financial Pitfalls and How They Can Negatively Impact Your Health

Does Money Matter?

People often think they can compartmentalize various parts of their life. We may think that the way we eat doesn’t impact the way we feel, or that our financial situation won’t have an impact on our health or relationships. While for some it’s possible to keep everything separate, oftentimes challenges in one area of our lives can bleed over into other areas as well. Read More

By Change Makers Series

Change Makers Interview: Lenwood V. Long Sr. of the Carolina Small Business Development Fund

Today we’re excited to share our interview of Lenwood V. Long Sr. He is the CEO and President of Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF), a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and statewide nonprofit organization based in North Carolina. The mission of Carolina Small Business is to foster economic development in underserved communities by providing capital, business services, and policy research to support small businesses. Read More

By CNote

A letter that may make capital more socially conscious for decades to come

Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock just sent an open letter to the CEOs of publicly traded companies outlining his expectation for how these companies engage with society and act as good corporate stewards.

The letter tells companies that they need to stop with the myopic quarterly earnings focus, and instead serve a broader social purpose benefiting all stakeholders, including the communities they operate in.

Read More

By CNote

SF Women’s March

Our democracy lives and dies by the ability of the people to raise their voices, hold their government accountable, and to participate fully in the political process.

In honor of rallying to assure everyone has an equal voice, some of the CNote team got together and attended the #WomensMarch2018 held in San Francisco this weekend.

Read More

By Borrower Stories

INCAUSA – Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship meets community lending

Incausa – In the cause of others.

Today, CNote is profiling Incausa, and its co-owners, Vinicius and Carolina. Together, they’ve built a company that sells unique goods across the globe but also supports indigenous artisans by selling their crafts and returning 100% of the proceeds to them. Incausa received a loan from a CNote partner that allowed them to scale their company without sacrificing their social mission. 

Read More

By CNote

CNote’s CB Insights Demo Day Presentation

Demo Day was a great opportunity to share the CNote story with a diverse group of industry thought leaders.

More than anything, CNote is excited to be recognized as one of “40 of the most ground-breaking early-stage startups” out of a pool of more than 2,000 applicants. Read More

By Borrower Stories

Traveler: More than a business—A unique and close-knit community brought to life by a simple loan

Here at CNote, we fight for financial empowerment. That sounds like a lofty sentiment, but oftentimes it plays out fairly simply in reality: small businesses need loans, and CNote provides community lenders with the funds to make more of these loans. Traveler is one of the many success stories associated with community lending. We’re excited to share the story of Julie Cox and her small business, Traveler. Read More

By CNote

CNote​ ​​Selected​ ​to​ ​Present​ ​at​ ​CB​ ​Insights’​ ​First-Ever​ ​Demo​ ​Day​ ​as​ ​Part​ ​of the​ ​Fintech​ ​Category

Yay impact investing, yay CNote! 

We are proud to announce that CNote has been chosen out of a pool of more than 2000 companies to present at CB Insights’ Demo Day Conference. We’re honored to be one of the “40 of the most ground-breaking, innovative companies” selected this year. Read More

By CNote

Women in Tech: Making Strides

Cat Berman, CNote’s CEO, was invited to speak at the Women in In Tech symposium at UC Santa Cruz’s Silicon Valley Campus.

The purpose of this event is to: “highlight the experience of women in the tech industry—from established companies to startups and the venture capital firms that support them,” and to “recognize those who have championed the advancement of women in technology through the WITI@UC Athena Awards.” The event also did a great job of assuring that attendees left “with actionable suggestions for overcoming gender-based challenges and improving the workplace climate for all.” Read More

By Small Businesses

Pandia Health – An inspiring story of a female entrepreneur that is improving other women’s lives

The Kind of Company, and Entrepreneur, That Inspires Us

At CNote, we a believe in underdogs. Our mission is to deliver financial empowerment, both to savers, and to financially underserved communities. Your investment in CNote drives community development projects, and provides the funding female and minority entrepreneurs rely on to get their businesses off the ground.

Often, its hard to envision what these companies might look like, who runs them, and how they impact the world. Today, we highlight Pandia Health and its CEO, Sophia Yen, MD, MPH, as an example of the kind of change that can occur when a motivated entrepreneur is given the capital to execute on her dream.

Dr. Sophia Yen has over 20 years of experience in medicine. She serves as a clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Stanford Medical School. She graduated from MIT, UCSF Medical School, and UC Berkeley with a MPH in Maternal Child Health. Dr. Yen co-founded Pandia Health and enjoys educating the public and other physicians about birth control, acne, weight management, and other adolescent health issues. 

The Pandia Health Peace-of-Mind, Taking The Pain Out of Reproductive Health

For the vast majority of the women who use it, birth control can be a real pain in the uterus. It’s a pain to swallow a pill every day. It’s a pain to drive to the pharmacy once a month to refill the prescription. But most of all, it’s painful to stress over the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy and the life-altering impact it can have.

Dr. Sophia Yen, co-founder and CEO of Pandia Health, calls it “pill anxiety.”

“You’re going through your pills and you get to that last week; and if you don’t get to the pharmacy, there will be a dire consequence. And so you have that stress in the back of your mind every single month,” she explains, speaking of her own experience as well as that of millions of other women. “And so that is the goal of Pandia Health…to cure women of this pill anxiety.”

“Set it and forget it; don’t run out on our watch.”

Indeed, when it comes to birth control, Pandia Health has taken over the watch. Through its website the company offers two main services: 1) monthly deliveries of birth control to the customer’s door, billed to insurance; and 2) telemedicine prescriptions costing a flat rate of $39, valid for a year. By taking over the responsibility of refilling birth control, Pandia Health has cured pill anxiety with what Dr. Yen dubs “Pandia peace-of-mind.”

Pandia Health’s Mission, and Drive, Comes From its Founder

From the way Dr. Yen speaks of her company, it’s clear that it is a source of pride and joy to her: “We are busting open access, and that’s what makes me happy: saving women stress, preventing unplanned pregnancy.”

An MD and MPH in Maternal Child Health, Dr. Yen has a demonstrated passion for women’s health and reproductive rights. Pandia Health is a natural extension of that focus. Indeed, it was in preparing for a talk about birth control that she conceived the idea of Pandia Health. 

“I came across this statistic that one of the top three reasons women don’t take their birth control is they don’t have it on hand,” she recalls. “And I said, ‘This is easily solvable.'” 

But her passion to solve such problems began even before that.

When Sophia Yen was 15, she ran a pregnancy test. The test wasn’t for her, but for her 13-year-old client in a pregnancy counseling program. And it came back positive.

“That was life altering for that patient forever,” Dr. Yen recounts. “It just made me sad to see the two different trajectories: I was going to head off to college and off to medical school, and she was going to head off to a life of teen pregnancy. And so I realized then how critical it is that people have access to birth control and comprehensive sex ed.”

Since then, she has not stopped “busting open” that access. Nowadays she continues to take joy in her work, motivated by the impact she can have on young lives with her work.

The joy is clear in the way she treasures her customers. Admiring their initiative to prevent unplanned pregnancy and make their lives easier, she calls them all “beautiful” and includes “fun things, randomly” in their shipments, such as chocolates, sunglasses, and condoms. On the rare occasion that there’s a problem with a refill date, she contacts the patient’s pharmacy to make sure patients have access to a new prescription before the pills run out.

In the end, the personal and professional commitment that characterizes Dr. Yen’s work comes from a passion to empower women to control their own destiny. She’s said that her life’s work is to make women’s lives easier by saving all the unnecessary effort that goes into getting and using birth control. Her commitment to reproductive health is consistent, from the bumper sticker on her car, to the playful uterus-shaped pendant that adorns her necklace. 

Turning Challenges Into Opportunities

In the early stages Pandia Health’s founding, the passion was there, but the money was not.

“The financial part is always ugly in the beginning…Funding-wise, you just have to bootstrap it or suck it up until you get money,” says Dr. Yen.

But her efforts to “bootstrap it” and secure funding at investment pitches were met with some resistance: namely, the barrier of many potential investors not understanding the problem because they had never experienced it personally.

In addition to uncertainty in the cause, there was also some uncertainty in Dr. Yen herself as a potentially successful entrepreneur. From the female founders before her Dr. Yen quickly learned to “never bring your male CTO or co-founder next to you, because they [investors] will be looking to him to approve, even though you’re CEO, even though it’s your idea, even though you brought the whole team together.”

Aside from gender bias, there was the perceived disadvantage of her being a physician (who are not traditionally credited with good financial intuition) and being a mother (who are not traditionally credited with having much time on their hands).

But rather than being weaknesses, Dr. Yen argues these unique life experiences helped her succeed. As a physician and mother, she was accustomed to working hard. And as a woman entrepreneur, she was able to anticipate being judged on accomplishments rather than potential. She knew she had to work harder and be more proactive than most if she wanted Pandia Health to succeed. So, she arranged a team of five multi-disciplined founders to make sure that they “could absolutely do it” before they asked for money.

Talk about weaknesses being turned into strengths.

It turned out that the “weaknesses” perceived by some investors became Pandia Health’s saving grace in other circles of investors. Namely, the cause for accessible birth control that turned 70-year-old male investors away, was admired and supported by organizations who liked to invest in social entrepreneurship, like OneWorld and Women’s Startup Lab.

Through such organizations, Dr. Yen was able to not only secure investments, but also access networks where she could exchange resources with other “femtech” companies for the mutual benefit of both. 

Pandia Health’s Impact

Now, three years after her initial idea, Dr. Yen continues to strive for solutions to the women’s health issues she is passionate about. With an adaptable mindset picked up from MIT, and a work ethic refined in medical school, she pivots her business in directions best suited to her customer’s needs: starting an ambassador program to increase awareness on college campuses; raising money to expand services nationwide and establish Pandia Health’s own pharmacy.

Of her company’s growth, she says, “We see a future where we start with birth control, we gain women’s trust, and we grow with them as they grow. So there’s huge potential, and you have to be flexible, you can’t be in a set mindset.”

But although the growth path is open to change, one thing is constant: The company will adapt itself to respond to women’s needs. It has done so from the very beginning and will continue to do so. And that is what women can count on for continued Pandia Health peace-of-mind.

Dr. Yen has shown us the impact a dedicated entrepreneur can have on the world. The money invested in Pandia Health has been a force for good in the lives of the women the company has served. Because Pandia Health predates CNote, we have not deployed any investment dollars in Pandia Health directly, but we will continue to work to drive dollars to entrepreneurs like Dr. Yen and share their inspiring stories, regardless of their funding source.

Pandia Health Today

Pandia Health is looking to expand its services nationwide and continue serving women in the most convenient, pill-anxiety free way possible. Their work is more relevant than ever, now that affordable birth control has become even less of a guarantee given the recent defunding of insurance-covered contraceptives.

To find out more about Pandia Health’s services and impact, visit their website:

For FAQs with Dr. Yen about birth control, women’s health, and more, take a look at their Youtube channel and blog


Dr. Yen encourages those interested in women’s health and advocacy to support the Silver Ribbon Campaign. That charity serves as an advocate for the respect of women’s reproductive rights.

Additionally, Pandia Health has created a Birth Control Fund to provide “financial assistance to women in need of access to birth control.” You can read more about that program here.



By CNote

Launch Coverage Recap

CNote made history with its launch to non-accredited investors on September 27, 2017. We are the first company to offer everyday investors seamless access to the reliable return and social impact of CDFIs. This launch was built on thousands of hours of effort. We are grateful for all the support and help we’ve had along the way.

Launching the first impact-focused savings product is a huge step towards our goal of delivering financial empowerment to even more people.

Read More