As we mark the mid-year point of a turbulent 2020, we want to recognize that we have accomplished amazing things with the help of some wonderful people! Opportunity Fund’s Southern California Regional Board has played a vital role in expanding the organization’s reach into a new market since June 2015 and making this region the home to more than half of our small business clients.
The Southern California Regional Board’s directors and leadership have opened doors that have translated to millions in support of the regional small business community, launched a collective of entrepreneurial women leaders in support of emerging women business owners, and originated a series of events that drew our community closer together.
We honor the contributions of four outstanding Regional Board Members, who have been critical in establishing our work in this market, as they transition from the Board to valued friends. Natasha Case, David Greco, Hogan Lee, and Tara Roth have been integral to the gains that this group has accomplished. We applaud all that they have contributed.
Natasha Case, Queer Ice Cream Icon, is the #OpportunityFunded co-founder and CEO of Coolhaus, which she started in 2009 with Freya Estreller. Coolhaus was first served out of a beat-up postal van at Coachella. Since then, it has expanded to 6,000+ grocery stores and 10 mobile ice cream trucks. Natasha and Freya used a $50,000 loan from Opportunity Fund to buy their first food truck. As a Southern California Regional Board Member, Natasha brought that drive to opening doors to other entrepreneurs co-founding and leading the “Power of She” on the Women Advisory Council bringing forth her talent and experience to help other women small business owners imagine how to scale their business. Most importantly, she frequently enabled Opportunity Fund to come together with small business owners, funders, and key stakeholders around ice cream in the “Haus” event space!
David served on the Southern California Regional Board as the Chair of the Events Committee, helping to strategically grow the annual LA-based “Taste of Microfinance”. As a member he brought his many years of experience in in driving the growth of social sector organizations working for a more just and equitable world to bear in lifting the
work of Opportunity Fund. Most recently, David relocated to the Bay area, first serving as Interim President & CEO for Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) and led their efforts to launch a new strategic direction and business model and now serves as the Executive Director of All Stars Helping Kids.
Tara Roth is the president of the Goldhirsh Foundation, on the board of Southern California Grantmakers, is an advisory board member of LA n Sync’s Bell Commission and 826LA, and is a Senior Fellow at USC’s Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab. As a key member of our leadership on the Board, Tara has been a champion of growing women’s entrepreneurship by co-leading the Women Advisory Council, linking women entrepreneurs to a range of business advising. Additionally, she has been an important and essential link to leaders and philanthropy that has driven new projects and helped countless small business owners in opening their doors during her tenure.
Hogan tied tech industry experience with a commitment to community improvement as a vital member of the Southern California Regional Board. He brought his vast experience in the region in leadership in advancing economic empowerment and equal opportunity to guiding our work with creating funding for diverse entrepreneurs to build and scale their businesses. Hogan recently took on a role as co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Forevernote, providing the opportunity to create and celebrate together with a custom memory book.
These individuals leave a legacy that will continue through their fellow Board Members who have risen to each occasion and will continue to provide the leadership needed to weather the challenges that COVID-19 has wrought on the small business community.
Starting this fall, we seek to engage Southern California leaders who have a passion to strengthen and ensure the resilience of small businesses. If you are interested in learning more and receiving an introduction packet, please contact Denise Nelson, Regional Vice President, at email@example.com.
Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $1 billion and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.
In March, 2020, Opportunity Fund and Accion, The US Network, joined forces to establish Accion Opportunity Fund, the first organization focused on a national microlending strategy to meet the credit needs of small businesses – developing new products, establishing new partnerships, promoting research and financial education, and leveraging digital technologies to support mission-driven lending.