Millions in New 'Micro' Loans

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San Francisco Chronicle
April 11, 2013

Opportunity Fund - California's largest nonprofit microlender to small businesses - is expanding its microlending to Greater Los Angeles. Home to more than 325,000 small businesses which employ nearly 2 million people, Los Angeles has more small businesses than any metropolitan region in the country. The nonprofit lender will offer loans from $2,500 to $100,000 to businesses in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties from its branch office in Huntington Park. Citi Community Development provided $100,000 in seed funding for the expansion to Los Angeles.

"Opportunity Fund has grown rapidly in the past few years in Northern California. We are investing in small businesses that are advancing the economic well-being of our Main Street entrepreneurs. Now it's time to broaden our support for the small businesses in Southern California that have been shut out of the financial mainstream," said Board Chair David Krimm.

Opportunity Fund concluded a successful pilot last fall to test its loans in the Los Angeles market.

In the coming year, Opportunity Fund will lend $4 million to help more than 600 entrepreneurs in Los Angeles to grow their business, boost their income, and hire new employees. This is an ambitious plan for growth: In total, Opportunity Fund is poised to lend $12 million in 2013, helping twelve hundred California entrepreneurs get the affordable financing they need, providing a path to economic prosperity for them and their families, and helping to rebuild our economy.

"Through our lending pilot, Opportunity Fund was able to help business owners like Ana, owner of Arantxa Fashions in downtown LA and Natasha and Freya, co-owners of Cool Haus ice cream in Culver City. The businesses we fund are truly remarkable engines of hope in Greater Los Angeles," said Chief Executive Eric Weaver.

"Small businesses create 64 percent of the new jobs in our country," says Bob Annibale, Global Director of Microfinance and Community Development for Citi. "The goal of this expansion is to provide financial inclusion for small businesses in California. It's clear that microfinance is meeting a critical need, enabling very small business owners to access capital, obtain valuable business training and move their way into the financial mainstream."

http://www.sfgate.com/business/prweb/article/Millions-in-New-Micro-Loans-Will-Flow-to-4427888.php

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