Opportunity Fund is a nonprofit small business lender and Accion US Network leads a nationwide network of community lenders. Opportunity Fund has the largest small business loan portfolio of any nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in the nation. They also integrate with LendingClub, the largest provider of personal loans in the US, where they lend to small businesses. Opportunity Fund became significant partner of LendingClub in April 2019 when they ceased making small business loans themselves, instead offering a co-branded experience with Funding Circle and Opportunity Fund.
Opportunity Fund and Accion US Network now will become Accion Opportunity Fund. Their plan is to develop a national microlending strategy in order to better serve small businesses. Some of the plans according to the press release include developing new products, establishing new partnerships, promoting research and financial education, and leveraging digital technologies and data analytics to support mission-driven lending.
Access to capital for small businesses is massive problem. It is estimated that there is an $87 billion annual market gap for loans less than $100,000 for Main Street entrepreneurs. Loans that will be offered by the newly created Accion Opportunity Fund tackle this problem head on so these businesses can thrive.
Luz Urrutia, CEO of Opportunity Fund and the newly-formed Accion Opportunity Fund provided the statement below as part of the press release:
“Collaboration and partnership are key ingredients to better serving our customers…Opportunity Fund and Accion share a common vision for an inclusive, healthy financial system that supports the nation’s small business owners. By coming together, we can accomplish what may have seemed impossible to some. This is the first national effort that can transform the small business lending and advising sectors and, with it, the lives of families running small businesses across the country. We are thrilled that building the future of American small business credit and advising services brings our two organizations together.”
Opportunity Fund will still be an independent Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) where it works to expand lending and provides advisory services in US markets. The management team and board of directors will also be in charge of Accion Opportunity fund. Other changes as a result of the news include:
Gina Harman, CEO of the Accion U.S. Network, joined Opportunity Fund’s management team
Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion, and board member of the Accion U.S. Network; Esteban Altschul, COO of Accion; Mickey Konson, Co-Founder and President at StreetShares, and board member of the Accion U.S. Network; and Solana Cozzo, Senior Vice President, Global Debit Product Management at MasterCard, and board member of the Accion U.S. Network – joined Opportunity Fund’s board of directors.