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The SBA Microloan program can provide small business owners with small-scale, low-interest loans with very good repayment terms to either launch or expand a business. Here is what prospective borrowers need to know.
What Is a Microloan?
The SBA Microloan program offers loans up to $50,000. They help women, low income, veteran and minority entrepreneurs, certain not-for-profit childcare centers and other small businesses startup and expand. The average microloan is approximately $13,000, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Microloan lending is different from other SBA loan products from traditional financial channels. The SBA microloan program provides funds through nonprofit community-based organizations. These nonprofit organizations act as intermediaries and have knowledge in lending, management and technical assistance. They are also responsible for administering the microloan program for eligible borrowers.
Uses for Microloans
Microloans are applicable for working capital purposes or for purchasing supplies, inventory, furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment. Ineligible uses include real estate, leasehold improvements and anything not listed as eligible by the SBA.
Microloans are a great option for businesses with smaller capital requirements. If you need additional financial assistance with purchasing real estate or help with refinancing debt, other SBA Loan Programs are available, such as the 7(a) loan or 504 loan.
According to SBA, microloans have certain stipulations. For instance, any borrower receiving more than $20,000 must pass a credit elsewhere test. The analysis from the credit elsewhere test determines whether the borrower is able to obtain some or all of the requested loan funds from alternative sources without causing undue hardship. No business or single borrower may owe more than $50,000 at any one time. Furthermore, proceeds cannot contribute to real estate purchases or pay for existing debts.
Microloan Qualification Requirements
Each microloan intermediary has their own credit and lending requirements. In general, intermediaries require some type of collateral in addition to the personal guarantee of the business owner.
Eligible microloan businesses must certify before closing their loan from the intermediary that their business is a legal, for-profit business. Not-for-profit child care centers are the exception and are eligible to receive SBA microloans. Qualified businesses are in the intermediary’s set area of operations and meet SBA small business size standards. Another requirement is that neither the business nor the owner are prohibited from receiving funds from any Federal department or agency. Furthermore, no owner of more than 50 percent of the business is more than 60 days delinquent in child support payments, according to SBA.
Prospective microborrowers must also complete SBA Form 1624.
Microloan Repayment Terms, Interest Rates and Fees
Microloan loan repayment terms, interest rates and fees will vary depending on your loan amount, planned use of funds, the intermediary lender’s requirements and your needs.
The maximum repayment term allowed for an SBA microloan is six years or 72 months. Loans are fixed-term, fixed-rate with scheduled payments. Interest rates will depend on the intermediary lender and costs to the intermediary from the U.S. Treasury. The maximum interest rates permitted are based on the intermediary’s cost of funds. Normally, these rates will be between 8 and 13 percent.
Microloans aren’t structured as a line of credit nor have a balloon payment. Microloans are malleable if the loan term does not exceed 72 months, but not exclusively for the purpose of delaying off a charge. They allow refinancing. However, any microloan that is more than 120 days delinquent, or in default, must be charged off, according to SBA.
There are certain microloan fees and charges. You might have to pay out-of-pocket for the direct cost for closing your loan. Examples of these costs include Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filing fees and credit report costs. You may also have to pay an annual contribution of up to $100. This contribution isn’t a fee and can’t be part of the loan. Late fees on microloans are generally not more than 5 percent of the payment due.
How to Apply for a Microloan
To begin the application process, you will need to find an SBA approved intermediary in your area. Approved intermediaries make all credit decisions on SBA microloans. Prospective applicants can also use the SBA’s Lender Match referral tool to connect them with participating SBA-approved lenders. Document requirements and processing times will vary by lender.
You may need to participate in training or planning requirements before the SBA considers your loan. This business training helps individuals launch or expand their business.
For more information, you can contact your local SBA District Office or get in touch with a financing specialist at Kapitus.