In the U.S. microfinance is typically described as loans under$35,000. Often times, people applying for a microloan may not be able to get a loan from bank due to their credit score, lack of operating history (i.e. a start-up business), lack of collateral, or the loan is too small for a bank to deal with. Many individuals and businesses are still very creditworthy, but unable to get a loan from a bank. In many cases, a “microloan” would offer the business sufficient cash for them to start or grow their business into a successful operation that brings them income and hopefully will provide additional jobs in the community. Microlenders fill the gap and provide financing to those creditworthy businesses that banks aren’t willing to lend to.
In San Diego, there are a number of different microlenders that provide loans from as small as $500 to as large as $35,000+. Some programs are designed for refugees, some for veterans, while others are open to any business that could just use some extra cash. The San Diego Microfinance Alliance (SDMFA) is a consortium of local microfinance practitioners, donors, educators, students and professionals. The SDMFA provides useful tools to local microfinance organizations and supports efforts to bring awareness about microfinance to the public. In addition to being an SBA Commercial Real Estate lender, CDC Small Business Finance (CDC) is a founding member of the SDMFA and provides business loans as small as $10,000 throughout San Diego County and other regions of Southern California.
If you’d like to learn more about microfinance in San Diego visit www.sdmicrofinance.org or you can plan on attending the annual San Diego Microfinance Summit held each Spring at The University of San Diego. The SDMFA also hosts a number of microfinance courses that are open to the public as well.
A key part of providing loans to businesses that are unable to get a loan from a bank is offering additional business counseling to help the entrepreneur succeed. In addition to utilizing free business resources like SCORE and Small Business Development Centers, the SDMFA partners benefit from volunteers working in their organizations or mentoring their microfinance clients. If you are a graduate student or professional that would like to volunteer or mentor a small business owner in southern CA email email@example.com or better yet, fill out this volunteer form to get going right away.