Federal Reserve Event Focuses on Community Development Online Platforms

Posted by Ash Kosiewicz, Communications Director

The online small business lending market is growing. Now representing $10 billion in outstanding loan capital, online lenders are using new technologies to connect entrepreneurs with access to capital. So how are mission-based lenders responding to these new players offering convenient access to capital online?

A wide-ranging conversation today at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors will explore the current landscape of community development online platforms, including Accion’s efforts to leverage technology to provide a fair and responsible alternative to expensive online lenders. The discussion will seek to identify common barriers and challenges, best practices, and opportunities for collaboration across organizations working to use technology to increase access to capital, financial education, and other financial services.

Accion U.S. Network CEO Gina Harman will present our recent work to help small businesses easily apply for capital online through Accion’s new online lending platform (us.accion.org) that leverages e-commerce best practices. Launched earlier this year, the site gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to apply for a loan in under 10 minutes and provides more than 40 articles and videos to help entrepreneurs learn the nuts and bolts of starting and strengthening their business.

“Smart lending isn’t a technology application online that prizes short-term efficiency over long-term value,” Harman says. “It’s a relationship-based partnership that can harness information to educate and support greater numbers of credit-worthy entrepreneurs. Because of our scale and nationwide footprint, we can leverage significant technology investments to drive efficiencies and achieve success on behalf of small business owners. We want small businesses to know that we provide an online platform that is responsive to their short- and medium-term needs.”

Our e-commerce platform features keyword driven content on different products to ensure that as many people as possible can find out about our site and services. The site’s functionality also uses email and advertising to reengage borrowers who start to complete a loan application but do not finish it. In its pilot phase, the platform has driven more than 1000 applications and has doubled our application complete rate.

Other invited guests for the conversation at the Federal Reserve include Partners for the Common Good, the State of Oregon’s Office of the Governor, Kiva Zip, and Groundfloor.

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