Community Development Innovation Review
May 19, 2021
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Supporting Entrepreneurs: A Longitudinal Impact Study of Accion and Opportunity Fund Small Business Lending in the U.S.
For nearly 30 years, Accion Opportunity Fund has offered business capital and advice to the small businesses often left behind by conventional lenders—women, people of color, and entrepreneurs with limited income, little or no collateral, or imperfect credit. This type of mission-based, small-dollar lending has grown in recent decades with the recognition of the strong repayment profile of these small business owners and the realization that small business lending acts as an economic development engine. Mission-based lenders like Accion Opportunity Fund do more than lend money; they often work with entrepreneurs to strengthen their businesses and help them succeed through business advising, financial education, and other services. Measuring the success of this type of lending has generally focused on gathering such quantitative data as loan repayment rates, business survival rates, and job creation rates. While important, such results do not tell us about the social impact of these loans on household and family life, poverty alleviation, or community development.
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