What would your city look like if everyone in it had the financial tools they needed to lead a happy, productive life? Would it look different than what you now see everyday  when you walk or drive home from work?

If it does, what would bridge the gap?

In 2013, MetLife Foundation set out to find out. Announcing a new commitment to ensure that low-income households and businesses have access to quality, affordable financial services, they had no way of knowing that their new focus on financial inclusion would be positioned so well to help shape the most significant development of 2014 in small business lending – the emergence of a new online lending marketplace and the disruption of the financial services industry as we know it.

To equip entrepreneurs with the information and support they need to position their businesses for long-term success, MetLife Foundation announced a partnership with the U.S. Network in 2014 to expand access to capital and education online for small businesses nationwide. Our work together will build upon the success of our online platform last year, processing more than 1,000 applications and disbursing more than $1 million to U.S. small businesses.

“We believe Accion’s work in local communities across the nation gives us the unique opportunity to help test new technology solutions and scale the impact of our investment for the benefit of more Americans,” said Dennis White, president and chief executive officer of MetLife Foundation.

Business owners across the country like food truck rookie Melissa Lynch stand to benefit. After 18 years spent working for someone else, it was a passion for cooking developed alongside her mother that inspired her to take a 6-month leap of faith in a licensed kitchen in a VFW post.  After taking recreational cooking classes and learning how to formalize her business, she needed new avenues to grow her fledgling operation, The Roving Lunchbox.

After learning about Accion through SCORE, she went online to search for capital. She found Accion’s new online lending website, applied for a loan to purchase a dough sheeter to increase product volume for future sales from her food truck, and received a call from Ana, an Accion East loan officer, to help explain and close the loan.

“I thought it was fantastic,” Melissa says. “I loved the process, it was really streamlined.
I used to work in software, so I’m a pretty harsh critic. And I thought it was really crystal clear … For a nonprofit to make that call and show that personal touch was really special.”

Learn more about Accion and our mission by viewing our 2014 Annual Report.

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