Opportunity Fund, a leading non-profit small business lender based in California, today announced it has begun to offer 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 (NYSE: LC), 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
JPMorgan Chase will provide $2.6 million through its PRO Neighborhood initiative to support Opportunity Fund’s collaboration with Craft3.
About Opportunity Fund
Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes that small amounts of money and financial advice helps people make permanent and lasting change in their own lives, driving economic mobility and stronger communities. We empower small business owners, low-income students and working families because entrepreneurship, education and sound financial habits are proven pathways to a thriving economy. Our strategy combines loans for small business owners and savings accounts to help students pay for college and families save for a rainy day. Since 1994, we have invested more than $500 million into underserved communities and helped more than 20,000 people pursue economic opportunities. Learn more at www.opportunityfund.org.
To apply for a loan: www.opportunityfundloan.org
About Lending Club
Lending Club's mission is to transform the banking system to make credit more affordable and investing more rewarding. The company's technology platform enables it to deliver innovative solutions to borrowers and investors. We operate at a lower cost than traditional bank lending programs, so we're able to pass the savings on to borrowers in the form of lower rates and to investors in the form of solid returns. Lending Club is based in San Francisco, California. More information is available at https://www.lendingclub.com. Currently only residents of the following states may invest in Lending Club notes: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, or WY. All loans are made by federally regulated issuing bank partners. Learn more at: www.lendingclub.com.
Craft3 is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution specializing in loans that strengthen the economy, families and environment. It lends to businesses, nonprofits and individuals throughout Oregon and Washington. Since inception in 1994, Craft3 has invested more than $433 million from offices in Seattle, Spokane, Port Angeles and Walla Walla, Washington and in Bend, Astoria and Portland, Oregon. To learn more, visit www.Craft3.org.
Opportunity Fund Media Contact:
Marika Rose, firstname.lastname@example.org
 FDIC Call Report, Q2 2014
 “Unaffordable and Unsustainable: The New Business Lending on Main Street.” Opportunity Fund, 2016. http://bit.ly/1WLENaB