My Cause

Luz Urrutia’s Dedication to Opportunity

By Julissa James

Luz Urrutia, the dynamic CEO of Opportunity Fund.

When Luz Urrutia speaks, you listen. Indeed, she’s as direct, poised and knowledgeable as CEOs come — and her delightfully distinctive voice could easily command any room — but it’s her passion that pulls you in like a vortex. It comes from a deep understanding of, and shared experience with, the communities she’s catapulting toward financial success.

The Cause. Opportunity Fund steps up where big banks and lenders won’t, providing small loans to entrepreneurs who might not have access to affordable credit but do have the capability to make a positive impact in their communities. Like Urrutia, many of the borrowers are women, immigrants or people of color.

The Boss. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Urrutia has become a force in financial services, proving that representation matters when serving underrepresented communities. In 2001, she became founding investor, president and CEO of El Banco de Nuestra Comunidad, a bank specifically geared toward aiding the Latino community. She’s led Opportunity Fund with gusto since 2017.

The Founder. In 1994, Eric Weaver formed the organization on the principle that “a little bit of capital and the right financial advice can truly drive permanent change in the lives of low-income individuals,” Urrutia explains.

Inspiration.The hardworking borrowers, whose “grit, talent and pure guts and determination” energize Urrutia and her staff.

Impact.The next time you bite into one of the pillowy, perfect beignets at Brenda’s French Soul Food on Polk Street, think of Opportunity Fund. In 2007, the group made its first loan to the beloved eatery, which has since attracted the likes of Kendrick Lamar, among other high-profile fans. The stats? Last year, Opportunity Fund proffered $117 million in loans and has lent $900 million since its inception. Every dollar deployed generates $2, and every loan creates or supports three jobs. Funded businesses have a 94 percent survival and 95 percent loan repayment rate.

Budget. Opportunity Fund is a community development financial institution, meaning its $31 million budget last year came from a combination of institutional funding and philanthropy.

Supporters. Among the biggest: John Sobrato, Anne Avis, Debra Engle, Mark and Debra Leslie, and Susan Ehrlich.

Get Involved. Each dollar invested generates $25 dollars in micro-loans — so donate! Contact Sara Lomelin Velten, senior director of leadership philanthropy: [email protected], 408-516-4704.

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