Opportunity Fund Launches $500,000 Start-Up Funding Challenge to Help Bay Area Small Businesses Get Off the Ground

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Opportunity Fund launches its Start-Up Funding Challenge to help Bay Area businesses get off the ground. For a limited time, the organization is lending up to $500,000 to local start-up entrepreneurs, who are either launching their businesses or have less than a year of sales.

Opportunity Fund Logo

Opportunity Fund Logo

I remember being on the phone with Opportunity Fund, and I was in a state of disbelief about getting the loan. I wouldn’t have been able to start this without Opportunity Fund.

Today, Opportunity Fund announced their Start-Up Funding Challenge to help Bay Area businesses get off the ground. For a limited time, the organization is lending up to $500,000 to local start-up entrepreneurs, who are either launching their businesses or have less than a year of sales. At 7.5% interest and no loan fees, the challenge aims to offer financing that is hard to come by for most start-ups at an affordable rate.

“Getting the access to necessary capital is a huge hurdle for most businesses that are starting out. And 45% of businesses fail due to lack of financing,” said the group’s Vice President of Lending, Marco Lucioni. With banks often unwilling to lend to start-up businesses, many people turn to friends and family, or high-interest credit cards. Opportunity Fund is seeking to help those businesses get off the ground and running, putting them in a position to succeed for the long-term.

Last year’s Start-Up Funding Challenge winner, Rachel Myers, started her dream business, the Home Décor Learning Center in Concord, California. Rachel began teaching upholstery at Mt. Diablo Adult Education in 2007. In 2009 she and her students found out the program was going to be cut. Confident in the demand for her instruction, Rachel developed a business plan to offer classes on her own, but she couldn’t find the funding to make it a reality until applying to the Start-Up Funding Challenge.

Rachel was able to borrow $30,000 in order to move into a new warehouse space. “I remember being on the phone with Opportunity Fund, and I was in a state of disbelief about getting the loan. I wouldn’t have been able to start this without Opportunity Fund. Or we would have gone so far into debt it would have been ridiculous,” said Rachel.

Entrepreneurs like Rachel will be able to apply to Opportunity Fund’s Start-Up Funding Challenge through March 31st. The winners will be selected by a panel of Bay Area business and philanthropy leaders, and will be announced in April. For more information, please see http://www.opportunityfund.org/startup.

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Press inquiries: Caitlin McShane, 408-512-2211 (o), 415-225-8855 (c), caitlin(at)opportunityfund(dot)org
Loan inquiries: Tim Hatfield, 408-516-4701 (o), startup2013(at)opportunityfund(dot)org

Opportunity Fund is a not-for-profit social enterprise helping thousands of California families build financial stability. Our mission is to advance the economic well-being of working people by helping them earn, save and invest in their future. Our strategy combines microloans for small businesses, microsavings accounts, and community real estate financing. Now California's leading microfinance provider, Opportunity Fund began based on the idea that small amounts of money and financial advice could help people make permanent and lasting change to improve their own lives. Since making our first loan in 1995, our team has deployed over $279 million into our communities.

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Caitlin McShane

Heidi Pickman
CAMEO
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