Starbucks just announced an innovative new small business loan program called “Create Jobs for USA”. Yes, along with doling out $5 cups of coffee, Starbucks will now fund loans of $50,000 and more for small businesses.
The company has a history of “micro-finance” in developing countries; this is its first program here at home.
But don’t call your local coffee-shop. The Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) will administer the money through a network of 180 local lenders called Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI).
Want a Latte Loan for yourself? Start by finding the OFN-CDFI nearest you. Each lender has its own criteria, but the Starbucks money is earmarked for loans that create jobs at small businesses.
Starbucks is putting up $5 million from their foundation. And donation cups at local Starbucks’ locations are collecting much more from the general public. For a donation of $5, you’ll get the satisfaction of helping a small business — and get a spiffy red-white-and-blue “INDIVISIBLE” wristband.
Whether you love Starbucks or hate ’em, check out OFN anyway. Their network of lenders is a potential lifeline in this “bank-less” economy.The program has already prompted critics to call foul, but its hard (for me) to find fault with a seven-figure grant to a group as robust as the Opportunity Finance Network. Starbucks itself will have no authority over how the money gets spent, the OFN will monitor and audit the number of jobs created, and the local CDFI will be able to borrow up to 7 times as much as Starbucks passes along. Lots of reasonable people agree that this is a well-thought out program and the company is getting a lot of well-deserved PR.
I tip my coffee mug to Howard Schultz and Starbucks. Hope you will tip your barista… and make a donation to the cause — or at least have another cuppa joe and apply for a loan… then go out and create some new jobs!
Dedicated to your (Caffeinated) profits,