Application Process

We understand that emergencies can’t wait. We accept applications on a rolling basis. Our full process from inquiry to decision typically takes two to six weeks.

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1. Inquiry Submission
The process begins when you submit an inquiry through our Salesforce platform.
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2. Initial Review
A member of our social investments team will review the submitted inquiry and determine eligibility.
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3. Initial Call
We will schedule an initial conversation to learn more about your situation and will continue our internal review.
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Submission
Potential partners will be invited to complete a short online application.
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5. Review & Revise
A member of our team will work with you to refine your application and prepare for investment committee review.
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Final Call & Decision
Potential partners will join the investment committee for a final interview and a decision will be made within one week.

Loans: Frequently Asked Questions

What different entities does Open Road work through?

Established in 2012, Open Road Alliance is a philanthropic initiative that serves the social sector by Keeping Impact on Track™ in an unpredictable world. We provide short-term solutions by disbursing fast grants and loans to nonprofits and social enterprises facing discrete, unexpected roadblocks during project implementation. We also conduct research and advocates for the adoption of long-term, system-wide risk management practices across the social sector.

 

Open Road Ventures is a fund established by Open Road Alliance, with proprietary capital, to disburse below market-rate loans. While ORV is a legally independent entity, it is wholly managed by Open Road in accordance with our philanthropic mission. The loan fund is designed to break even, covering the costs of any potential losses. Any income generated from interest will be used as reserves to absorb future losses. No earnings will be distributed to investors.

 

The Impact Fund is the first fund by Open Road that is open to outside investors including family offices, foundations, and impact-first investors. Impact Fund loans range from $100,000 to $1M and are extended to social impact organizations located primarily in Africa, U.S., Latin America, and South Asia.

 

In contrast to the Open Road Impact Fund, ORV is not open to external investors.

Who is eligible for a loan? What are your terms?

Open Road is sector (issue area) and geographically agnostic and serves both nonprofits and for-profit social enterprises of any size. Our funds are only used to support mid-implementation projects facing unexpected obstacles or sudden catalytic opportunities that can expand their impact. 

 

Terms:

 

  • Average loan size: $250,000, max $1M

 

  • Interest rates: 2–5% for non-profits, 5–10% for social enterprises

 

  • Average term: 9 months, ranging from 30 days to 24 months

 

Details:

 

  • Open Road is not solving for the greater working capital issue in the sector, but providing a, “bridge to somewhere.”

 

  • Our three types of loans are: (1) a bridge to committed funding, (2) help with delays in accounts receivable and (3) an unexpected opportunity for impact such as an unexpectedly large purchase order.
Why loans?

In 2017, after five years of funding nonprofits and social enterprises facing roadblocks, we learned a lot about “what goes wrong” during project implementation and what organizations need to overcome those barriers.

 

From observation, empirical data, and many, many conversations with our social impact partners, we realized that oftentimes the problem is not a lack of money in general, but a lack of money NOW. In other words, whatever the cause of the problem, the result in financial terms is simply a cash-flow issue. In these cases, additional funding is comingwhether through a committed grant, equity raise, confirmed sales, or other sourcebut it is not coming quickly enough to address the problem at hand. As such, these organizations need a financial bridgea loanto keep impact on track while waiting for the additional, committed funds. Once those pre identified funds come in, Open Road is paid back.

 

In addition to loans, Open Road also continues to make charitable grants to both nonprofits and social enterprises in cases where an organization does not have committed revenue or expected income.

 

Open Road is able to generate greater impact through loans because the funds are recycled over and over to multiple organizations pursuing their social missions. Serving more organizations ultimately means more impact across the sector.

Do you charge interest? Why?

Loans are offered at below market rates, ranging from 2-10%, depending on the market, to serve as a bridge or working capital. The average loan term is 9 months, with a range of 30 days to two years. By charging interest at below market rates, Open Road is able to preserve the value of its capital in the face of inflation, as well as cover expected losses. Open Road Ventures is not designed to generate profits and Open Road Impact Fund distributes below-market returns to investors.

Who are the investors?

Open Road Alliance and Open Road Ventures are solely and privately funded by its Founder, Dr. Laurie Michaels. The Open Road Impact Fund is funded by a variety of investors.