Problem: Community-minded investors lack a way to invest locally for impact.
Solution: Opportunity NH Investments
We were founded in 1983 on two beliefs. First, many people with low incomes face financial barriers because they lack access to capital. Second, some people who own or manage capital would use it for basic human needs if they only had a means to do so.
We were created in 1983 to bridge those two groups.
The idea was that that the money we loan to support affordable housing, community services, and job-creating businesses would come from investors who wanted their money to create social impact, earn interest, and be repaid.
Our first investor was the Sisters of Mercy, who wanted their retirement funds to further their mission of eliminating poverty. Of our next 49 investors, 42 were individuals, making us an anomaly among CDFIs founded in the 1980s and ’90s.
Over the years our investors have become more diversified, and now include foundations, other financial institutions and nonprofits. But more than three-quarters of our investors are individuals, who have entrusted us with more than $30 million of their savings. Most are very loyal; 80% renew their investments at maturity or donate them to us.
Our continued emphasis on individual investors makes us an outlier among CDFI loan funds today. Most are capitalized by banks, federal and state governments, and institutions like insurance companies and pension funds.
People can open an Opportunity NH Investment with as little as $1,000 for as short a term as one year. Each investor selects a fixed interest rate and receives an unsecured promissory note. The funds go into a shared-risk pool, so no repayment to any investor is tied to any particular borrower’s repayment.
Investments in the Community Loan Fund are not insured by the FDIC or any other private or public agency. There is no public or private market that buys or sells Community Loan Fund notes, so investors can only get repayment when their promissory notes come due.
That said, no investor has lost their principal here, and every investor has received the full interest promised to them when due.