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Arvest Opportunity Fund Names 6 to Advisory Board

2 min read

 The Arvest Opportunity Fund, which lends to small businesses across four states, on Monday announced the members of its new advisory board.

Hillis Schild directs the Little Rock-based fund, a non-bank subsidiary wholly owned by Arvest Bank of Fayetteville. The fund’s mission is to provide loans, services and financial education to entrepreneurs and business owners in underbanked communities.

Schild will serve as the advisory board’s chair.

She told Arkansas Business last year that the fund helps new businesspeople get their enterprises off the ground, then helps them build a credit file good enough to meet Arvest Bank’s business lending standards. The Arvest Opportunity Fund makes business equipment loans, business vehicle loans and offers lines of credit secured by companies’ total assets.

Schild gave an example about the people the fund helps. “Think about a journeyman electrician who has worked in that field for several years but  wants to go out on his own,” she said. “But he needs appropriate equipment. He’s still working for his current employer, and our policy will allow for that,” factoring in his income.

Monday’s announcement named five others to the advisory board, including:

  • Mary Beth Brooks, director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. The center is a program of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. 
  • Kate Bulger, vice president for business development at Money Management International. Money Management is a nonprofit credit counseling company in Stafford, Texas, that partners with the fund to help new businesses.
  • Chris Benge, vice president of operations at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology.
  • Brennan Crawford, executive director of Community Housing of Wyandotte County, Kansas.
  • Dr. Algerian Hart, assistant to the president for inclusive engagement at Missouri State University in Springfield.

The Arvest Opportunity Fund was created in 2022 and soon began offering loans, lines of credit and lending-related financial education to promising customers who didn’t meet existing bank credit requirements.

“We are excited to have such an experienced group of professionals be part of our first advisory board,” Schild said in a news release. “They have a deep understanding of the challenges the underbanked population faces, and their insight and guidance will be valuable as we continue our mission of helping people reach their full potential through finance and education.”

 The board members will serve three-year terms and meet regularly throughout the year, the release said.

Since its creation, the fund has helped 466 small businesses with $13.7 million in loans. It introduced products and services like the Arvest Homebuyer Advantage program, which the fund announced last year in partnership with Arvest Bank. It provides first-time homebuyers with down payment assistance. In March 2024, leaders launched EmpowerED, a free bilingual mobile-first financial education platform.



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