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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.
|Provider||Who They Serve||Microloan Amounts||Locations Available|
|Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs*||New and established businesses||Up to $50,000||Northern Georgia, including Atlanta|
|Bentley Microfinance Group||Underserved businesses||$500 - $10,000||Boston, MA|
|Business Center for New Americans*||Immigrant, refugee, women and other entrepreneurs||$500 - $50,000||New York, NY|
|Economic and Community Development Institute*||New and established businesses||$500 - $350,000||Ohio|
|Finanta*||New and established businesses||Up to $50,000||Philadelphia, PA|
|Flagship Enterprise Center*||Established businesses||$1,000 - $50,000||Central Indiana|
|Grameen America||Low-income women entrepreneurs||$1,500||New 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 entrepreneurs||Up to $50,000||St. Louis, MO|
|LiftFund*||New and established businesses||$500 and up||Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas|
|Opportunity Fund*||Established businesses||$2,600 - $30,000||California|
|Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs*||Minority entrepreneurs||$500 - $50,000||Oregon and Southwest Washington|
|Rural Enterprise Assistance Program*||New and established businesses in rural communities||Up to $50,000||Nebraska|
*SBA microlender (see full list here)
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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