After getting historic approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March, StreetShares will unveil what claims to be the US’ first publicly-accessible small business funding community at the LendIt USA 2016 Conference in San Francisco, according to a release. The StreetShares product will pay a fixed 5% interest (regardless of the performance of a particular underlying loan), is ensured by a provision fund, and provides liquidity as investors can access their funds at a 1% fee.
The initial offering is limited. The product launch is available first to military members, veterans, and their families. Investors may initially invest up to $1,000 each. The funds are used to back loans to small businesses that the investor wishes to support, such as those owned by military veterans.
“Marketplace lending to small businesses has been limited to wealthy individuals and institutional investors,” indicated Mark L. Rockefeller, CEO of StreetShares. “We wanted to create a simple product to allow all Americans to earn solid returns while supporting small businesses they believe in.”
Rockefeller, and former Capital One Senior Executive, Mickey Konson, both military veterans themselves, co-founded StreetShares on the theory that social loyalty between borrowers and investors could be used to decrease the risk of lending. They call the concept “affinity-based lending.”
StreetShares counts 10,000 small business members. Investor and borrower members on StreetShares are matched by affinity status (e.g., veterans funding loans to veteran-owned businesses). StreetShares technology manages the interaction between investors and borrowers to maximize community loyalty and increase loan repayment rates. StreetShares’ first “affinity” group is the military and veterans community. StreetShares has partnerships with over 30 veterans organizations to reach this population. Currently over 60% of StreetShares loans are made to veteran-owned businesses, StreetShares plans to expand its technology to other affinity groups as well.