At Opportunity Fund, we are working to build a more inclusive financial system, helping traditionally underserved entrepreneurs access capital, build (or re-build) their credit, and grow their businesses. We recently concluded an evaluation to measure changes in the financial and credit profiles of nearly 2,000 small businesses funded by Opportunity Fund – in some cases with data to track their businesses over the course of nearly a decade.
A team of student researchers at UC Berkeley’s Net Impact conducted the research. The Net Impact researchers studied those clients that have gotten more than one loan from Opportunity Fund —often over a period of several years as they invest capital in their growing businesses. About one third of our clients are repeat borrowers, providing a rich source of longitudinal data on business revenues, credit scores, and job creation over time.
The team conducted a detailed analysis of outcomes for 1,941 small business borrowers who received two or more Opportunity Fund loans between 2007 and 2017.
The research team found meaningful improvements, including:
Increased Business Revenue
* Repeat borrowers increased their business revenues by an average of 51% (median 15%) between their first and latest loan.
* 42% of repeat borrowers saw an increase in business revenues of at least 25%.
|Improved Credit Score
|* Borrowers who had no credit score when they received their first loan had an average score of 630 by the time they got their most recent loan.
* 33% of the repeat borrowers who came to us with a credit score saw an increase in their credit score of at least 25 points—which could mean the difference between a sub-prime and prime score.
A credit score has been described as the “passport to the American financial system.” It is heartening to know that Opportunity Fund helped over 1,000 borrowers establish credit over the past decade, with those in this study achieving an average score of 630.
Likewise, Opportunity Fund makes loans to help small business drive economic mobility by building a business – and the growth in business revenues is a very encouraging outcome demonstrating that these “micro” loans can truly make a “macro” impact. The analysis also revealed some impressive outliers. For example, 17% of the sample saw their business revenues double between their first and most recent loan—with low-income borrowers being the most likely to do so.
These findings provide critical insights into how our loans are helping underserved entrepreneurs achieve greater financial stability. CEO Luz Urrutia recently spoke about this and other research at our FY2017 Impact Meetings.