Micro-loans for the Win! – Opportunity Fund
This weeks cause of the week is the Opportunity Fund!
They help those in need by providing financial services to low-income individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area. By providing microloans to small business owners who can’t get a loan from the bank and microsavings accounts for low-wage workers who need the skills and incentive to save.
They are empowering financial stability for the most vulnerable people on the financial fringe in their community and help set them on a path to prosperity.
How did the whole idea come about?
Opportunity Fund recognized that small businesses are the engines of the modern American economy – creating 60% of new jobs in the past 20 years. We also recognized that it isn’t in the “big bank’s” interests to fund these small enterprises (assessing risk is different and you can return a profit on these microloans, but not too much or else you’re likely to do harm to the very businesses you’re trying to help) – so there was a real need in our community to come up with a social enterprise that meets this needs of America’s small businesses while supporting our local economy and our community at the same time.
Why is this cause close to your heart? Why should other support it?
What’s special about Opportunity Fund is our clients. We provide a hand up, not a hand out. Nothing is given away for free, and our work is only possible through their incredible determination and hard work. We leverage the hard work of a single business owner and see that single investment have a ripple effect in the community. For example, as these businesses grow, they take their loan from Opportunity Fund and put it to work investing in new materials and equipment; hiring new employees; and paying more taxes. Every dollar we lend generates an additional $2 in economic activity in our local community. When else does “charity” spread so far? Local microfinance is about neighbors helping neighbors. It’s really exciting to be a part of such a powerful movement.
Do you have any other events or fundraisers that you would like others to know about?
Our campaign this holiday season – Love Local Microfinance – aims to grow microfinance in the Bay Area. With $25, anyone can join the local microfinance movement that is creating jobs, building businesses, and allowing entrepreneurs to provide for their families while spurring economic growth! Making an impact doesn’t require deep pockets or global reach. When you give through our Love Local Microfinance campaign by Jan. 15th, you can enter to win great prizes from local businesses that were funded by microloans! Give & Win!
What advice would you give to others that might like to take on such an amazing endeavor?
Be the change you want to see. Roll up your sleeves and dive in! It’s hard work, but it’s so much fun.
How has social media helped your organization?
We’ve learned a lot through social media because we can participate in so many more conversations. We’ve also been able to connect with more people in the microfinance movement and share Opportunity Fund’s local microfinance work with a wider audience, bringing new supporters to our work. For example, there are tons of people in our own backyard that love microfinance and never knew Opportunity Fund was the biggest microlender in their community until they found us on Twitter!
What do you have planned for the future of Opportunity Fund?
More loans. More financial education. More microsavings accounts. And some pretty cool new product innovations and policy work!