July 29, 2022 by Kyle Fawcett
It’s no surprise that California is home to one of the most active and prosperous entrepreneurial ecosystems, but oftentimes the resources are geared towards the wannabe unicorns or silicon valley tech startups.
While VC and high growth funding are great and necessary, that often leaves smaller startups, main street businesses, and your average small business to wonder where they can find funding if not VC or a bank loan which can be challenging for startups to get approved.
Growing in popularity, but largely still unknown to most, microloans are a fantastic (and perhaps the best) option for startups and small businesses. Microloans, SBA loans, CDFI loans, and more of the sort are widely available in California with a very healthy list of options that offer different loan amounts, specialties, and terms as well as what makes microlenders and CDFIs (community development financial institutions) special which is technical assistance services. If you've never heard of microloans or microlenders before, here's a really quick video about SBA microlenders that will give you some more context, or you can check out our Ultimate Guide to SBA Microloans to get a full understanding of the program.
Read on to see which California microlender could be a good fit for you with additional details on each below the table.
Access Plus Capital
Based in Fresno, CA, Access Plus Capital offers a wide range of small business loan options in size and structure to cater well towards startups and small but growing businesses. Access Plus Capital offers an attractive Nanoloan which can be as small as $5,000 which can be very helpful for small operations and many lenders don’t bother offering small-dollar loans.
In addition to their wide range of business loan products, they also offer one-on-one coaching, workshops, classes, and financial literacy education. In 2020 alone they provided nearly $12 million to nearly 1,200 businesses including businesses like Robertito’s Taco shop and Burly’s California Bistro.
Based in Eureka, CA, AEDC receives loan funds from many different sources giving them the ability to be flexible in their credit decisions even to startups. In 2020, they provided nearly 5 million dollars to small businesses through microloans and SBA 504 loans.
AMPAC Business Capital
Headquartered in Grand Terrace, CA, AmPac Busines Capital has lent more than $500 million to 750 small businesses and startups in their lending territory through loans from $5,000 up to $5 million primarily through SBA loans. They provide loans for all kinds of different business types and industries such as a winery that fulfilled the dream of a man and his late wife.
CDC Small Business Finance
CDC has helped more than 12,000 small businesses with small business loans between $20,000 and $250,000, but they also offer SBA 504 loans which can finance commercial real estate loans up to $40 million. They provide hands-on technical assistance resources to help their borrowers from understanding credit to working directly with a business advisor.
California Coastal Rural Development Corporation
Cal Coastal is a nonprofit that is serving the needs of small businesses as well as farmers to businesses and farms located on the Central Coast. Cal Coastal can provide loans from $5,000 to $5,000,000 through their variety of lending programs including SBA 504 loans, USDA loans, SBA microloan, SBA 7(a) CA program, and many smaller revolving loan funds.
California Farm Link
California Farm link focuses intentionally on supporting farmers, ranchers, and fisheries across California through affordable loans, education, and communicating land that is available for purchase. With different loan types for different types of projects, they can provide $5,000 up to $1.825 million as well as a staff that speaks both English and Spanish. California Farm Link supports their borrowers by offering English and Spanish training in farm sustainable practices to help them grow and repay their loans.
Lendistry has been an industry leader in the CDFI and alternative lending space for small businesses. With more than $8.7 billion in loans and grants provided to more than 586,000 small businesses, their resources and reach are significant while still offering safe alternative financing options when a traditional bank may not be an option for a small business. Individual loans from $5,000 to $5 million through a variety of programs including SBA loans, are available for applicants. Lendistry also offers comprehensive online educational resources for business owners to engage with at their own pace.
Main Street Launch
Main Street Launch has been supporting small business owners in Oakland, San Franciso, and Stockton California since 1979 in an effort to improve communities and combat persistent poverty. In just the last 10 years Main Street launch has deployed more than $80 million through more than 1,000 loans and created or retained more than 6,000 jobs in just the Bay area. Small businesses can apply for loans between 10,000 and $250,000 even if they are a startup.
The Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE) was launched in 1976 in Los Angeles and focuses on delivering responsible capital to small businesses with a specific focus on diverse and lower-income communities. Applicants can apply for up to $50,000 through SBA loans and can be supported by free 1-on-1 business consulting services.
Pacific Community Ventures
Pacific Community Ventures is a 501c3 nonprofit that was founded in 1988 in Oakland California that has provided more than 1,000 loans each between $10,000 and $250,000. There are no minimum credit score requirements for applicants and in the last year more than 80% of loans made were provided to woman-owned businesses and/or BIPOC-owned businesses and 85% went to businesses located in economically distressed areas. PCF provides free business advisory services through its large network of volunteer business advisors.