Microlending in the Bay Area: Successes and
Challenges to Growth
Eric Weaver, Founder and CEO, Opportunity Fund
Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 7:00 pm
Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business, Gathering Hall
Register now for this free lecture.
Eric Weaver founded Opportunity Fund in 1992, based on the idea that small amounts of money and financial advice could help people make permanent and lasting change to improve their own lives. Since making its first microloan to a family-owned pet store, Opportunity Fund has grown under Weaver’s leadership to one of the nation’s largest nonprofit microlenders to small businesses. In 1998, Weaver and his team expanded Opportunity Fund to provide financial education and microsavings accounts (IDAs). Weaver is now a leading advocate in the US for asset-building programs that help low-income Americans gain access to economic opportunity.
As CEO, Weaver is responsible for structuring partnerships and new deals that allow the organization to scale; attracting new investments; and ensuring Opportunity Fund’s social and financial return on investments in low-income communities. Harnessing his background as a community organizer and leveraging his degree from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Weaver runs a successful social enterprise with a $7 million operating budget—funded equally through earned and contributed income sources—that has deployed over $200 million into the community through a strategy that combines microloans for small businesses, IDA microsavings accounts, and community real estate financing.
Opportunity Fund has twice received the Skoll Foundation’s Skoll Award for Innovation. In 2006, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) named Weaver Financial Services Advocate of the Year. That same year, he received the inaugural James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for his innovative approach to eliminating poverty in California. In his tenure leading Opportunity Fund, Weaver has testified before the State Assembly on community investment policies and traveled (home) to Washington, DC, during the Great Recession to meet with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on effective small business financing models.
Weaver and his wife are raising their two children in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood.
Learn more about our past Center for Socially Responsible Business lecture series.