Opportunity Fund relies on long-standing institutional partners to support our microfinance programs especially in the present climate where government funding is uncertain or stalled. Opportunity Fund is grateful for Bank of America’s continued partnership, which includes new grants totaling $275,000 that will support the talent and technology we need to expand our reach to underserved small business owners and originate more than 2,500 new loans in this fiscal year.
“Bank of America is the largest investor in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). We have worked for many years with Opportunity Fund in particular to provide capital and liquidity for its micro-lending efforts to small businesses and start-ups so vital to our economy and jobs,” said Raquel Gonzalez, Bank of America Silicon Valley Market President. “Through grants, we can also support Opportunity Fund itself with its staffing needs and operational support so that it can scale more broadly and reach even more entrepreneurs. This is a true win-win partnership that we can all be proud to support.”
Bank of America has awarded Opportunity Fund $75,000 in regional grants for our small business lending in the Inland Empire, Los Angeles County, Orange County, the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. As a committed funder, Bank of America helps us to make affordable and responsible loans available to diverse small business owners in every corner of the state —with a focus on low- and moderate- income, minority and women entrepreneurs—who otherwise would not qualify for conventional loans and could become vulnerable to high-cost alternative lending.
Bank of America provided an additional grant of $200,000 through the Bank’s partnership with The Tory Burch Foundation to help us target women entrepreneurs. This initiative helps clients like Lily, an accountant who joined Biwise Commissary Foods after immigrating to Watsonville in 1997 from her native Mexico. Biwise serves the loncheras—food trucks—in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties by providing an inventory of food items (chips, rolls, soft drinks), and supplies (such as paper containers, napkins and foil wrappers). Lily and her husband Gerardo, used their savings to buy the business in January, 2016 when her boss retired. Sales were steady but flat, and with their savings used up, Lily and Gerardo were unable to fund the improvements that would help them pursue their dream to expand the business. A customer referred Lily to Opportunity Fund’s local loan consultant, Griselda Gil-Solis, who helped Lily and Gerardo secure a responsible loan so they could invest in their business and realize their plans. With their first loan of $20,000, the couple increased inventory, bought an industrial icemaker to provide ice for the food trucks, and set up a propane station for their customers. Last year, they worked with Griselda to refinance their loan and increase it to $30,000 (made possible through Bank of Americaand the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Access Program grant to support women entrepreneurs) for further expansion. The new sign says it all: Biwise Mobil Catering and Commissary! Their son Jerry, who has helped with Biwise, caught the bug, too: in February, he launched his own business, BOD CONSTRUCT, with a $15,000 loan from Opportunity Fund.
Through grants and referrals, Bank of America’s support of Opportunity Fund’s lending program is a vital ingredient in our success in filling the financing gap for diverse small business owners. Opportunity Fund’s partnership with Bank of America helps us achieve impact in communities across California where there is unmet demand for responsible small business lending.