Shopify's Kaz Nejatian later clarified the early-stage capital program is only available to U.S. entrepreneurs at this time.
Shopify is looking to spur entrepreneurship and boost its merchant count by removing a fundamental barrier to launching a business: startup capital.
The Ottawa-based e-commerce giant announced an expansion of its Shopify Capital program Tuesday that will see the company provide initial loans of $200 to qualifying applicants looking to test out entrepreneurship.
In its most recent earnings report last fall, Shopify highlighted how its existing Shopify Capital program issued $141 million in merchant cash advances and loans in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 85 per cent year-over-year. Until now, the program’s financing terms have typically been tied to a business’s sales history on the platform.
These early-stage loans, on the other hand, can be approved without any sales or a credit check. In a release, the company positioned the idea as an alternative to dipping into savings, borrowing from friends and family or racking up credit card debt.
Kaz Nejatian, vice-president of Shopify’s financial solutions division, wrote on Twitter that the new program was aimed at entrepreneurs struggling to get started with a business idea, such as recently landed immigrants who haven’t built up a financial foundation yet or a founder targeting non-traditional industries.
The move to ease the on-boarding of new users comes amid a broader push to continue growing the number of merchants using Shopify's platform.
Though the company passed a sizeable milestone with its one-millionth user in 2019, the company’s year-to-year growth in merchant base has showed signs of slowing in recent years. This has pushed Shopify to increase expansion efforts outside its core North American market; CFO Amy Shapero said during the company’s most recent quarterly earnings call that it was seeing its most rapid growth in international markets.
Shopify itself has been having a strong start to 2020 with its shares hitting new highs on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges. The firm’s shares on the TSX were trading at $576.25 on Tuesday, an increase of nearly nine per cent since the start of the year.