$750,000 Available for Start-ups in the Bay Area

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Opportunity Fund, California's leading micro lending organization, launches Start-Up Funding Challenge to help new businesses get off the ground with loans up to $50,000 at 7.5% interest and no loan fees.

On Tuesday, January 21, 2014, Opportunity Fund announced its Start-Up Funding Challenge to help Bay Area business owners make their start-up dreams a reality. For the third year in a row, California’s largest non-profit micro lender is offering loans up to $50,000 at a 7.5% interest, with no fees, to eligible new business owners with less than one year of sales. The organization will disburse $750,000 of allocated funds to help local start-ups launch their new businesses.

Nick Wen, one of the 17 Bay Area entrepreneurs that was selected as a winner of last year’s Start-Up Funding Challenge, was able to launch a new barre-inspired fitness studio in Hayes Valley called Cardio Barre.

“I was confident that Cardio Barre would be successful in San Francisco, but I wasn’t sure how I would be able to find affordable financing that I needed to actually start it,” explains Wen. “Luckily, I found Opportunity Fund to equip me with the funds I needed to get the business off the ground.”

If you try taking a class at Cardio Barre now, less than six months since Nick was named an Opportunity Fund Start-Up Funding Challenge Winner, you will see that he is off to a full sprint. Due to popular demand, Nick has had to add additional morning and night classes to the schedule in order to make room at his start-up fitness studio.

The Start-Up Funding Challenge was designed to help local entrepreneurs receive the funding that they otherwise would not be able to receive from traditional sources, who are unwilling to take a risk on new businesses. By offering winners start-up capital, along with technical business training, Opportunity Fund hopes to provide new businesses the opportunity not only to get off the ground, but to grow to a point where they can receive the financing that they need in order to succeed in the long-term.    

In addition to Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties, this year the Start-Up Funding Challenge has been expanded to include Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. Additionally, Opportunity Fund is accepting early entry applications, which will increase eligible applicants’ chances of being selected for a loan before funds run out.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for the Early Entry deadline, February 28, as funds are limited and a high number of applications are expected to be received this year. All applications are due by March 31. The winners will be selected by the Opportunity Fund selection committee and will be announced in May. For more information, please visit http://www.opportunityfund.org/loans/startup.


Press inquiries: Caitlin McShane, 408-512-2211 (o), 415-225-8855, caitlin(at)opportunityfund(dot)org
Loan inquiries: Tim Hatfield, 408-516-4701 (o), startup2014(at)opportunityfund(dot)org

About Opportunity Fund: Opportunity Fund is a not-for-profit social enterprise helping thousands of California families build financial stability using 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 its first loan in 1995, the team has deployed $300 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. Learn more at http://www.opportunityfund.org.

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Caitlin McShane
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