Today, Google announced it is awarding Opportunity Fund a $100,000 grant to scale our innovative EasyPay microfinance loan. This award-winning idea allows small business owners in California to pay back a loan only when and if they have the money.
“We are pushing the boundaries to make credit more accessible, more transparent, and more affordable to the millions of entrepreneurs in California that are shut out of the mainstream financial system,” said Opportunity Fund Founder and CEO Eric Weaver. “With Google’s backing, we will be able to invest in the technology needed to scale our EasyPay loan throughout the Bay Area and beyond.”
Nonprofits across the Bay Area competed in Google’s Bay Area Impact Challenge, which sought to identify the most innovative ideas for making our communities an even better place to live. A six-member panel—which included Honorable Aida Alvarez, Jacquelline Fuller, Director, Google.org, Secretary Norman Mineta, Major League Baseball Player Barry Zito, Reverend Cecil Williams, Chief Teresa Deloach Reed —reviewed proposals, making the selections based on: community impact, innovation, scalability and feasibility.
EasyPay is an innovative microfinance loan that allows small business owners to pay back their loan as a percentage of their daily credit/debit card sales, making the loan more affordable for the business. Already, Opportunity Fund has lent $4 million in EasyPay loans to help 216 California entrepreneurs start-up or scale-up their businesses.
Tina Ferguson-Riffe received an EasyPay loan from Opportunity Fund for her business Smoke Berkeley, a bar-be-cue restaurant in Berkeley. “I didn’t know where I could get the funds to keep my restaurant running. Then I found Opportunity Fund and my dreams are a reality. The EasyPay loan really is that easy for my business to manage – we pay back tons in the hot summer months and I don’t have to sweat it when the rain comes and we see business drop a bit,” said Tina. “With this loan, I’ve been able to buy new equipment, hire employees, and make plans to expand the business to a second location.”
With Google’s support, Opportunity Fund will help more small business owners like Tina to grow their enterprise, create and sustain jobs, and build a brighter future for their families and their communities.