Arvest Bank of Fayetteville announced that the Arvest Opportunity Fund loaned $4.4 million to 181 small businesses in the first year of the program.
Launched in August 2022, the Arvest Opportunity Fund offers loans, lines of credit and lending-related financial education to small business customers that fall just below existing bank credit requirements. Arvest describes the program as a bridge that allows customers to move from their current financial situation to a position in which they can fully access traditional bank products and services.
“We’re very proud to have helped so many small businesses gain access to capital,” Hillis Schild, executive director of the Arvest Opportunity Fund, said in a news release. “We believe our approach to investing in people through finance and education is effective in helping our customers achieve their financial goals.”
Arvest Opportunity Fund loans are generated from applications reviewed by Arvest’s Small Business Underwriting (SBU) standards. If the applicant’s credit file does not meet Arvest Bank loan policy requirements, the applicant can agree to have the Arvest Opportunity Fund consider the applicant for funding.
Loan recipients must agree to receive financial education coaching for 12 months after funding. Customers who completed the Arvest Opportunity Fund’s financial education coaching program saw an average increase of more than 50 points on their credit score.
“Small businesses are vital to the economic health of our communities and our region,” Ron Witherspoon, president of Arvest Bank in Central Arkansas, said in the release. “At Arvest Bank, we’re continually searching for new ways to support the needs of our local small businesses and the Arvest Opportunity Fund is a great example of that.”