Opportunity Fund, an OFN Member CDFI, announced today that is has begun offering loans online to borrowers in 12 new states, in addition to increasing its investments in California’s small businesses. By expanding its partnership with Lending Club, the world’s largest online marketplace connecting borrowers and investors, Opportunity Fund will reach borrowers in these new states online, pursuing a branchless banking model that embraces the best of online and traditional community lending.
“It’s thrilling to be able to reach so many more underserved business owners pursuing their dreams,” said Eric Weaver, Founder and CEO, Opportunity Fund. “We have received online inquiries and phone calls from entrepreneurs outside of California for years, and the rate is only increasing as our lending grows. Opportunity Fund plans to invest $400 million in 10,000 small businesses by 2020, which will double our impact on an annual basis. “It’s only possible by pursuing innovative strategies and forging strong collaborations outside of our sector.”
Minority communities and women entrepreneurs are particularly underserved, exacerbating disparities in wealth and opportunity. And while new ‘Fintech’ lenders have poured billions into a new online loan industry, borrowers are often saddled with debts carrying an average APR of 94% and payments that are more than twice what the business can afford, according to Opportunity Fund’s own research.
Opportunity Fund’s collaboration with Lending Club began as a pilot in California in 2016, funded by JP Morgan Chase. The partnership leverages Lending Club’s technology platform to identify small business owners whose credit applications fit Opportunity Fund’s guidelines (and do not meet Lending Club’s credit criteria) so that Opportunity Fund can fund qualifying entrepreneurs, thereby expanding access to credit in underserved communities.
The goal is for these small business owners to gain access to affordable credit, as well as expert advice and support from Opportunity Fund’s dedicated staff. The partnership will now expand into Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.
Two additional partnerships support this critical effort on behalf of borrowers in the Pacific Northwest. Opportunity Fund and Craft3, the leading CDFI in the region, will buy loans from Opportunity Fund and may establish ongoing relationships with qualified borrowers in the region acquired through the online lending partnerships. And JPMorgan Chase will provide $2.6 million through its PRO Neighborhood initiative to support Opportunity Fund’s collaboration with Craft3, also an OFN Member.
Learn more about this exciting cross-sector collaboration to expand access to capital for small businesses during a June 20 webinar. Opportunity Fund, Lending Club, and Craft3 will discuss challenges faced and lessons learned while building a first-of-its-kind technology platform to enable this unique referral partnership. Hear from the collaborators about the shared vision, values, and resources that brought this partnership to life. And get insight into building successful CDFI-Fintech partnerships.
Building Technology for Cross-Sector Collaboration: A Case Study of FinTech-CDFI Partnership Success
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
12:00-1:00 PM PST