The following is a short post from Opportunity Fund Founder and CEO, Eric Weaver. Opportunity Fund is producing an event that we at 3p are very excited about called Microfinance California, on May 28th at Stanford. If you have the chance, come join us at the event, which promises to deliver some great discussions on the future of lending to California’s entrepreneurs who aren’t receiving access to the capital they need to get their businesses off the ground.
With the economy still reeling and federal stimulus dollars yet to hit the street, the work we do at Opportunity Fund is more important than it has ever been before. If you doubt the power of microfinance to provide fast and effective stimulus, consider these facts:
- Very small businesses are a major source of quality, sustainable jobs in the Bay Area and in recent years have been the only source of job growth.
- From 2001 to 2006, very small businesses (fewer than 19 employees) were the only size businesses in the Bay Area to create jobs – with an average 4.7% increase in employment.
- Microenterprises with 4 or fewer employees experienced an 11.3% increase in jobs.
- Businesses with 20 employees or more reduced their employment by an average of 8.67% during the same period.
Opportunity Fund and other microfinance institutions have proven their ability to help these job-creating businesses grow. Our borrowers, for instance, have an 85% survival rate two years after receiving a loan from us. Even better, our loans are being repaid and we are in no need of a bailout. Because microfinance isn’t about bubbles, excessive leverage or opaque financial products. It’s about old fashioned hard work and faith in our fellow human beings.
Eric Weaver is the founder and CEO of Opportunity Fund. He has spent his entire career as an advocate for low-income communities. He has combined his background as a community organizer with an education from Stanford Business School to develop an innovative not-for-profit financial institution that uses market principles, rigorously measures community impact and seeks to effect systemic change. His ideas – and track record of successful implementation – provide a roadmap for achieving long term, sustainable improvements in the lives of low-wage workers.