A new $100 million Clinton Foundation-sponsored platform bidding to take on predatory online lenders by offering America's underserved communities a low-cost alternative, is opening its doors for beta testing.
Developed by the Global Social Enterprise Institute (GSEI), SourceFunding.org uses a proprietary common application and matchmaking software to help it connect individuals, businesses and other organisations with a national network of partner community banks, credit unions and economic development organisations.
Developed by entrepreneur Michael Short, the outfit says that, although interest rates have been kept at historically low levels since the 2008 economic crash, small businesses and "non-traditional entrepreneurs" still struggle to get access to low-cost capital along with real-time technical assistance.
This is particularly true for Asian, Latino, and African Americans, who are three times more likely to start a business but are significantly less likely to successfully obtain financing. Women in particular face significant challenges, as they received only four per cent of the small business capital loaned in the US last year.
A regional pilot has already seen $10 million lent to initiatives involving urban revitalisation, green infrastructure, STEM for underserved youth, and small business development in a community with the nation's highest levels of poverty concentration among African and Latino Americans.
Now - having received some high-profile backing, showcased by the Clinton Global Initiative and highlighted at the 2016 State of Women Summit hosted by the White House - the platform is inviting requests for participants in its beta testing phase at it steps up efforts to hit the goal of having an economic impact of nearly $1 billion dollars over five years in underserved communities throughout the US.