The CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program leaves the most vulnerable behind, and its rocky and inequitable roll-out may bring too little, too late, to Main Street. To fill this ‘stimulus gap,’ Opportunity Fund is raising $50 million to help small businesses survive. The national Fund–in regional partnership with Silicon Valley Community Foundation–has already received over $7 million in commitments from tech giants, Wall Street titans and A-list celebrities.
San Jose, Calif., April 7, 2020—Opportunity Fund — the nation’s leading nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) small business lender — today launched its Small Business Relief Fund aimed at raising $50 million to provide critical financial relief and business assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, especially women, minority, and immigrant-owned businesses left behind by the CARES Act.
The $2 trillion CARES Act left the nation’s smallest, most vulnerable businesses at the back of the line for assistance even though they are on the frontlines of this economic crisis with the thinnest cash reserves. What’s more, the Act’s Paycheck Protection Program favors larger employer firms, the rollout has been marked by uncertainty and confusion, and, even if replenished, funds could still run out before the smallest firms find their way through the application process — making the need for this direct relief fund all the more urgent.
“Nearly half of our country’s small businesses only had 15 days of cash reserves. Time is running out. We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild,” said Luz Urrutia, Opportunity Fund CEO. “That’s why Opportunity Fund is taking urgent action to help small businesses before it’s too late. When small businesses fail, it impacts entire communities. While the CARES Act will provide relief to many, its troubling roll-out and the fact that it left countless small businesses behind means help could be weeks away. For most small businesses, that’s too late.”
The Small Business Relief Fund provides struggling small businesses with loan payment relief, access to new funding for a quick injection of affordable capital, and technical assistance to help small businesses with restructuring, financial and tax advice, marketing strategies, legal support, plus human resource and layoff aversion support. The nonprofit lender has already provided deferred payment terms to over 700 of its existing small business clients within the first weeks of the economic crisis. Every $1 donated to the Fund provides for $0.40 of debt relief, $0.40 toward loss mitigation and $0.20 to deploy new capital.
Wells Fargo is the inaugural funder to the Small Business Relief Fund, which has received over $7 million in commitments and donations in two weeks from seven-figure grants and grassroots individual contributions alike. Additional Wall Street titans like JPMorgan Chase and Nasdaq, tech giants like eBay, Google and Slack and celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jimmy Kimmel and Ariana Grande have all pledged support.
“The charity that I’ve chosen is Opportunity Fund’s Small Business Relief Fund that supports small businesses that have most been affected by COVID-19,” said Jennifer Aniston, who encouraged people to donate during an appearance on the April 2 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Show.
Opportunity Fund aims to raise the full $50 million to provide financial relief to over 6,200 U.S. small businesses and technical assistance to thousands of additional entrepreneurs as quickly as possible. This will include new and existing Opportunity Fund clients. Opportunity Fund and the Accion U.S. Network–the two biggest nonprofit leaders in small business lending and advising, announced recently that they joined forces. Consolidating the strength of the country’s two leading purpose-driven organizations supporting small business allows an even more robust and coordinated response to the economic and personal damage caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Small businesses bolster our local economies and strengthen our communities by ushering in growth, jobs and innovation, and they also provide critical employment opportunities to a significant number of our low-income and undocumented neighbors. During these uncertain times, small businesses are facing plummeting sales, decreased cash flow and devastating layoff decisions caused by COVID-19. They are battling for survival, and we must help them continue to operate and support their employees. The long-term health of our economies and communities depends on small businesses surmounting this crisis,” said Nicole Taylor, president and CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a key partner in raising regional donations for the Fund in Silicon Valley and throughout California.
Opportunity Fund has already received and responded to scores of requests from small business owners across the country seeking urgent relief.
“We used to make 40,000 tamales a month; now, we’re barely hanging on,” said Alicia Villanueva, owner of Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas in Hayward, Calif. “When Opportunity Fund allowed me to skip our next loan payment, that was the first sign of hope. Then, they helped us with a new contract to feed hungry students after schools shut down, and we had some revenue to replace what we lost. Everyone has been stepping up to help. When we made payroll that first time after shelter-in-place orders went into effect, I cried tears of joy for our 25 employees and their families. We’ll keep going as long as we can. And with Opportunity Fund’s support, we’ll rebuild once this is over.”
Additional organizations supporting Opportunity Fund’s Small Business Relief Fund include: City National Bank, PayPal, Walter & Elise Haas Fund and Wurwand Foundation.
For small businesses seeking assistance: Click Here
Existing customers: 877-629-2709 or email@example.com
New customers: 888-720-3215 (888-648-7859 en español) or click here to get started.
Individuals wishing to contribute to the Small Business Relief Fund can make a donation online: Click here or donate through a Donor Advised Fund.
Businesses, Foundations, and Philanthropists who want to join in supporting the Small Business Relief Fund: Opportunity Fund Chief Development Officer Christopher Berini: firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the full press release including additional statements, click here.