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American Express gives $40 million into a fund to provide loans to small business owners of color

American Express gives $40 million into a fund to provide loans

May 10, 2021: -Helping small businesses owned by people of color, immigrants and women recover from coronavirus is the goal of a $40 million investment American Express is making accompanied with Accion Opportunity Fund.

The loans started going out this week, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, depending on business need. According to forecasts from the nonprofit fund, the average is expected to be around $28,000, aiming to help build a financially inclusive world.

“We intend to look at underfunded small businesses that are looking to get stronger, to reopen, to stabilize and develop in 2021 and beyond,” Luz Urrutia, CEO of the Accion Opportunity Fund, told CNBC.

To qualify for the loans with 12 to 60-month terms, an applicant should be in business for 12 months, should prove $50,000 in revenue per year, and own a minimum of 20% of the company.

Applicants with less FICO credit scores will be considered, but their credit rating will be a factor in determining the loan’s interest rate, which can range from 5.99% to 25.99%.

According to Accion research, underfunded small business owners often use cash advances or other products from “alternative” lenders with an average interest rate of 94%. Black-owned businesses will be a focus on the Accion loan program.

Last fall, American Express announced a $1 billion plan, which included a pledge to provide capital and financial education to 250,000 Black small businesses and provide $25,000 grants to Black female entrepreneurs in partnership with nonprofit IFundWomen.

“When we look at the outsized impact of the pandemic, combined with systemic racism, we know that Black-owned businesses have been at a historical disadvantage,” American Express executive Jessica Ling told CNBC.

 “This has refueled a commitment from American Express to help support the Black business community by offering access to funding, giving resources to help them grow,” she added.

Accion predicts the $40 million investment through the cycles of loaning money, repayment, and lending again will turn into $125 million in loans over the next five years and permit small business owners to create or retain 10,000 jobs. Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, gave Accion a $15 million grant in August.

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