Opportunity Fund, a CDFI based in San Jose that I’ve had the pleasure of working with on several projects, is impressive.
- They closed 1,500 loans last year, adding up to $14.6 million.
- To date, they have lent $66 million to 8,000 clients who have a median income of $22,000.
- They close about 55 deals per staff per year at a cost of $3,600 per loan, with little automation for risk assessment or underwriting.
- They serve all of California, with offices in Los Angeles and San Jose.
- Their loan consultants are mostly home-based and spend 75% of their time in the field, finding deals and working with potential borrowers.
- They are competing with the merchant cash advance (MCA) industry with their Easy Pay loan product, which, unlike a MCA, is structured to support business success.
- In the next five years, they plan to invest in $100 million microloans.
They achieve these results, in part, with their commitment to a sales culture. Twenty-five to forty percent of loan consultant compensation is tied to loan closings and portfolio performance. Opportunity Fund intentionally hires staff with a sales background and mentality. “We use incentive compOpportunity Fundensation to promote sales,” said Eric Weaver, Opportunity Fund CEO. “Few people will be high producers without financial incentives.”
Their goal is to reach out to as many borrowers as possible. “We strive to bring working capital to working people,” said Marco Lucioni, OF’s Vice President of Lending. “We achieve impact through scale.”
OF is competing with many online lenders and want to appear as an attractive business alternative, with all the speed and ease the MCAs offer. Check out Opportunity Fund’s study, Unaffordable and Unsustainable, on the danger MCAs present to small business.