Opportunity Fund Receives Millions in New Small Business Loans to Help California Restaurants Grow Business While Preserving Cash Flow

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A California non-profit microlender wins $3 million to help finance restaurant owners who do not have access to affordable capital.

Opportunity Fund, California’s largest non-profit microlender, today announced $3 million in financing to help restaurant owners expand their businesses with affordable, quick and easy capital through its new EasyPay loans. EasyPay loans are easy to apply for, quick to process, and preserve cash flow, since businesses can repay their loans automatically as a percentage of daily debit and credit card sales, rather than paying a lump-sum payment in advance. Businesses can borrow up to $100,000 with annual interest rates between 8.5 to 15%. These loans are especially attractive to restaurants in California, which often have large upfront capital needs and are well-poised to take advantage of the easy repayment features.

“Being able to automatically repay the loan when we have sales is a huge relief,” explains Tina Ferguson-Riffe, owner of Smoke Berkeley, a barbecue restaurant in Berkeley, California, “and I don’t have to worry about missing payments.”

Restaurants are traditionally considered high-risk borrowers, which make banks apprehensive to service loans to them. Consequentially, restaurant owners turn to lenders that are very expensive, such as merchant cash advance financers.

“Opportunity Fund is a nonprofit that understands the small business restaurant industry— typically owner operated, family run businesses that find it difficult to receive loans from banks,” explains Alex Dang, an EasyPay Loan Officer. “EasyPay allows us to devote more capital to an industry that needs it most.”

EasyPay loans are not only cheaper, but allow the restaurant owner to repay the loan in a manner that is much more comfortable than merchant cash advance financing. Restaurant owners often have to carve out upwards of 30% of their daily sales towards the repayment of a merchant cash advance. This is very dangerous given that restaurants operate on thin margins.

Business owners are able to repay their EasyPay loans with a lower interest rate and over a longer period of time than alternative lenders. Opportunity Fund allows business owners to carefully match their loan repayment with a fixed portion of daily sales. If that fixed portion is hypothetically 5%, the restaurant pays 5% of sales on a busy day and pays 5% of sales on a slow day.

Over the next three years, Opportunity Fund plans to finance 1,000 businesses in California, particularly those in the restaurant industry, to create 2,900 jobs and stimulate economic mobility statewide. Opportunity Fund was recently selected as one of three winners of the 2013 Wells Fargo NEXT award to do just that, receiving $3 million to expand EasyPay to business owners in the Greater Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Press inquiries: Caitlin McShane, 408-512-2211 (o), 415-225-8855 (c), caitlin(at)opportunityfund(dot)org
Loan inquiries: 408-516-4695, loans(at)opportunityfund(dot)org

Opportunity Fund is California’s leading nonprofit lender that helps people create sustainable small businesses through alternative banking and asset building programs. Through our small business loans, matched savings accounts and community real estate financing, Opportunity Fund supports people to build financial stability. Since making its first loan in 1995, the team has deployed $280 million into local communities. Our mission is to advance the economic well-being of working people by helping them earn, save and invest in their future. http://www.opportunityfund.org

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Caitlin McShane
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