DURHAM — A Durham fintech startup beat out hundreds of applicants to nab a spot in the inaugural Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders.

LoanWell, founded by Bernard Worthy, 32, is a cloud-based business-to-business platform that builds software for community lending institutions like CDFIs, credit unions and loan funds. Its mission: to enable efficient and easy access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

It is one of 12 Black-led startups from around the country to be named to the three-month intensive program.

“Google for Startups has been coming to Durham to co-host the Black Founders Exchange (GFE) with American Underground for the last five years,” said Google’s head of Developer Ecosystems Jason Scott, in a statement.

“During that time, we’ve met some promising founders with innovative ideas. We’re truly excited to welcome Bernard Worthy and his startup, LoanWell, into the first cohort.”

Bernard Worthy (left) of LoanWell receiving Scrappiest Startup award.

Worthy, a GFE Black Founders graduate, knows firsthand how hard it is to get a loan with favorable terms.

A few years back, when he was looking into coding boot camp, he was forced to take out a high-interest rate loan to attend the program. Talking to his peers, they, too, had to piecemeal their financing.

That’s how he and cofounder Justin Straight hatched the idea for LoanWell.

“Our hypothesis is that people are doing this informal arrangement, back-of-the-napkin, handshake agreement, and you never really set the terms and expectations,” he has told WRAL TechWire. “What we’re trying to do is take this informal agreement and make it a more formal scenario, and by virtue of making it more formal, makes people step up a little bit.”