Opportunity Fund is a nonprofit lending institution built on the belief that small amounts of money and financial advice can help people improve their lives, and that doing so can drive economic mobility and build stronger communities. Opportunity Fund’s tagline is “working capital for working people.” Established in 1994, they have three locations in California and work exclusively with California businesses.
- Lending options
- EasyPay loans
- Opportunity loans
Their micro-loan and micro-savings account programs offer those who would normally be turned away by a bank the opportunity to save money and expand business. They also offer 12 hours of free financial education classes that cover topics such as budgeting, credit repair, and goal setting for account owners who meet their savings goals. Opportunity Fund’s system of micro-finance has been reported on and praised in multiple national news sources, and as a company, Opportunity Fund continues to grow and assist thousands of small businesses thrive.
Because Opportunity Fund is a nonprofit lender and relies on government support and private donations, they are able to operate their business in a way that prioritizes the needs of small business owners and their communities. Their goal is to provide financial and educational support to businesses that might not have the credit or revenue to secure traditional financing. They do this through two main lending options:
EasyPay Loans essentially operate like a cash advance; however, instead of short repayment terms and high interest rates, Opportunity Fund extends the loan terms and has a fixed interest rate range with any annual renewal fees. Repayment amounts are based on a daily percentage of credit and debit card sales with flexible repayment periods of up to four years. The interest rates range from 7.9 to 18.9 percent. The EasyPay Loans can be used:
- to pay off merchant cash advances from other lending institutions
- as working capital
- for tenant improvements
- to purchase equipment and machinery
- to build inventory
Small businesses that have been operating for at least one year with at least four months of merchant processing qualify for EasyPay Loans. Businesses must also be on-time with credit and with the business’s landlord (when applicable) for 12 months.
Opportunity Loans and Small Business Loans are very similar to standard bank loans. Both require a vehicle title as collateral and while there is no application fee. In order to be eligible, a business must have been in operation for at least one year and be located in California. A credit score is asked for but there is no minimum requirement to meet. For these loans, as well as for the EasyPay Loans, applicants can expect to receive approval within two to three business days and receive funds five days after closing.
- No loans for startups
- Limited availability
- Credit history
No Loans for Startups
Opportunity Fund focuses its business financing efforts on assisting existing small businesses grow and succeed. By doing this, they believe that they can improve communities and economies, as well as have a personal impact on the lives of small business owners.
Unfortunately, this means they do not accept general applications from start-up businesses that have been operating for less than 12 months. They have held multiple Start-up Funding Challenges that offer start-up businesses a chance the secure financing from $5,000 to $50,000 with 7.5 percent fixed interest and no loan fees; however, the last Challenge was held in the early part of 2014 without any apparent Challenges since then. Other limitations include:
The biggest downside to Opportunity Fund is that it is only available in California.
While there is no minimum FICO score required to apply for any of the loan options, Opportunity Fund does look at a business’s credit history. Any business that:
- is currently delinquent on other credit payments
- has open tax liens
- has open bankruptcies
- does not qualify for funding
Opportunity Fund is in the business of helping small businesses succeed; however, they mostly aim to fill the funding gap for established business owners who have a solid business in place but do not qualify for traditional bank loans.
The largest drawback to Opportunity Fund’s micro-finance system and funding opportunities is that they are available only to small businesses located in California. Opportunity Fund has only three locations and in spite of providing service to thousands over customers during their 20 year in business, they remain a small company.