Microloan Programs for Small Businesses

Microloan Programs for Small Businesses

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For businesses that have trouble getting financing from traditional sources, we’ve compiled a list of the top national and regional microloan programs in the United States. These programs are especially useful for businesses that are underserved by traditional financing methods, such as startups or businesses in low-income communities.

National Microloan Programs

Most microlenders typically operate within a specific state or region, but a few programs are available across the United States. Some of these programs, like the SBA and Accion microloan programs, are offered through a network of intermediary lenders across the U.S.

Good for New Businesses: SBA Microloans

SBA microloans are specifically designed to cater to underserved businesses, including startups and businesses in low-income communities. Available in almost all 50 states, SBA microloans made by a network of intermediary lenders (we’ve listed some of the top regional SBA microlenders in the table below). Interest rates generally range from 8% to 13% with a maximum amount of $50,000 and maximum repayment term of six years. Because these loans are made through intermediary lenders, there are different credit and lending requirements for each lender. However, most lenders will want to see collateral and a personal guarantee on the microloans. Some lenders will even require you to complete business training prior to receiving any funds.

Good for Veteran Business Owners: Accion

Accion has specific loan programs for veteran business owners and partners with the Syracuse University Institute for Veteran and Military Families to offer financial workshops and resources for veterans and their spouses to help them qualify for small business loans. Loans from Accion range $300 to $1 million. Accion has other loan programs that target specific types of businesses and business owners, including startups, daycares, food and beverage businesses, women and minorities. Interest rates, terms and eligibility criteria vary across loan products, but you can apply online.

Good for Interest-Free Microloans: Kiva

Kiva is a lending marketplace that offers interest-free and no-fee microloans up to $10,000 for new and established businesses across the U.S. Generally, Kiva will give a specific amount based on your business’s operating history, with lower loan amounts for newer or unlaunched businesses. No minimum credit score is required to apply for a Kiva microloan, but you will be expected to provide a personal story and a description of your business.

Good for Food and Agricultural Services: USDA FSA Microloans

The Farm Service Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has microloans up to $50,000 for agricultural and food service businesses. Businesses that are eligible for these funds include restaurants, grocery stores, new farmers, niche or non-traditional farms and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Loans are given for operations or ownership, with a 2.25% interest rate for operations loans and a 3.375% interest rate for ownership loans.

Regional Microloan Providers

In the table below are some of the top regional nonprofit, SBA and other microlenders within the United States that serve a variety of small businesses.

ProviderWho They ServeMicroloan AmountsLocations Available
Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs*New and established businessesUp to $50,000Northern Georgia, including Atlanta
Bentley Microfinance GroupUnderserved businesses$500 - $10,000Boston, MA
Business Center for New Americans*Immigrant, refugee, women and other entrepreneurs$500 - $50,000New York, NY
Economic and Community Development Institute*New and established businesses$500 - $350,000Ohio
Finanta*New and established businessesUp to $50,000Philadelphia, PA
Flagship Enterprise Center*Established businesses$1,000 - $50,000Central Indiana
Grameen AmericaLow-income women entrepreneurs$1,500New York, NY; Union City, NJ; Boston, MA; Indianapolis, IN; Omaha, NE; Austin, TX; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Los Angeles, CA; San Juan, PR
Justine Petersen*Low- to moderate-income entrepreneursUp to $50,000St. Louis, MO
LiftFund*New and established businesses$500 and upAlabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas
Opportunity Fund*Established businesses$2,600 - $30,000California
Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs*Minority entrepreneurs$500 - $50,000Oregon and Southwest Washington
Rural Enterprise Assistance Program*New and established businesses in rural communitiesUp to $50,000Nebraska

*SBA microlender (see full list here)

Other Resources

While most microloan programs are designed for underserved businesses, they are not the only programs that cater to these types of businesses. Another great option to consider is state and federal grant and loan programs. You can look for state and federal financing options through BusinessUSA, or the Council of State Governments for state-specific programs. Beyond funding, state governments may also offer special tax credits or exemptions for small businesses or business/technical management assistance. If you’re particularly crunched for time, you may want to consider a loan from an alternative or online lender, as they typically have fewer eligibility requirements than banks.

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Justin is a Sr. Research Analyst at ValuePenguin, focusing on small business lending. He was a corporate strategy associate at IBM.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.