Loans and borrowing money for your business

Borrowing money requires repaying the loaned sum over a period of time, usually with interest.

Before you begin

Before applying for a loan, contact the San Francisco Small Business Development Center

They will pair you with a financial consultant. Your consultant can help you explore whether a loan is right for your business. They may suggest what options are best for you. 

They can also help with business planning and building or repairing credit.

City and state loan programs

The San Francisco Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) and Emerging Business Loan Fund (EBLF) are lending programs created by the City to provide loans to small businesses. Both funds are managed by local nonprofits who provide financing in addition to training and other resources.

SF Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)

Organization: Main Street Launch
Description: Main Street Launch offers loans from $10,000 to $50,000 to new and existing small businesses.
Eligible uses:

  • Start-up expenses
  • Furniture, fixtures, and equipment
  • Tenant improvements
  • Working capital
  • Marketing

SF Emerging Business Loan Fund Program (EBLF)

Organization: Main Street Launch
Description: Main Street Launch offers loans from $50,000 to $250,000 to qualifying commercial projects. The purpose of the Emerging Business Loan Fund is to originate commercial loans that support high impact businesses and projects with the potential to increase economic activity in San Francisco as well as create jobs for low to moderate income individuals.
Eligible uses:

  • Working capital
  • Equipment
  • Real Estate
  • Tenant Improvements

California Rebuilding Fund

The California Rebuilding Fund is a loan program designed to help California’s small businesses access the funding they need, including those located in economically distressed areas of the state. The loans are flexible, transparent and are designed to help businesses access the financing and advisory services they need to get through these challenging times. The rates are typically based on the WSJ Prime Rate + 1.0% annual percentage rate.

See a list of COVID-19 relief and assistance for small business, compiled by the State of California

Nonprofit & Community Lenders

Loans from nonprofit and community lenders have fewer restrictions than loans from traditional banks. These lenders often target disadvantaged groups like minority or low-income business founders who are less likely to receive loans from regular banks. 

These loans are usually smaller or have fixed interest rates so that borrowers are less likely to default (fail to repay their loan). In addition to capital, many provide services like training or technical assistance.

Banks

Bank loans are one of the most traditional and conservative ways to finance a business. Unfortunately, they’re also some of the hardest loans to get. When banks lend to new businesses, they usually only offer short-term loans, seasonal lines of credit, and single-purpose loans for machinery and equipment. Most banks also require a business plan as part of the application.

Featured resources

Fondo Adelante 

The Mission Economic Development Agency’s (MEDA) community loan fund, Fondo Adelante, offers loans up to $100,000 to businesses who cannot get a loan at a traditional bank. 

Kiva Microloans

Kiva is a local non-profit that provides 0% interest loans up to $10,000 for small businesses and start-ups in the Bay Area. These loans are crowdfunded on their website and can be used for any business purpose. Kiva's crowdfunding model and unique approach to underwriting allows those with poor financial history or limited business experience the opportunity to raise capital.

Mission Asset Fund

Mission Asset Fund helps clients participate in lending circles to help low-income businesses access 0 interest loans and build credit.

Northeast Community Federal Credit Union

Northeast is a nonprofit, member-owned, federally insured, community development credit union that offers small business loans. Chinese assistance is available upon request.

Opportunity Fund

Opportunity Fund advances the economic well-being of working people by helping them earn, save, and invest in their future. Opportunity Fund provides Small Business Loans, IDA Savings, and Community Real Estate services. The Opportunity Fund provides loans from $2,600 to $100,000 in the Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles.

Pacific Community Ventures

Pacific Community Ventures offers loans up to $250,000 to qualifying small businesses in growth phase with annual revenues between $250,000 and $5 million. 

Southeast Asian Community Center (SEACC)

The Southeast Asian Community Center (SEACC) is a multi-service nonprofit that provides business support services include one-on-one technical assistance, credit evaluation and repair, business plan development, financial projections, marketing, business expansions, interpretation and translation services, and loan packaging to small businesses in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. SEACC also makes commercial loans of up to $35,000 to low-income entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The SF LGBT Community Center

The SF LGBT Community Center Business Development Program provides free one-on-one counseling to address a full spectrum of business planning and marketing needs. Special emphasis is placed on providing strategic support with loans, loan packaging, and post-loan technical assistance. The Center also offers regularly held group workshops on a variety of topics including marketing, business financing, sales, legal, human resources.

Working Solutions

Working Solutions is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization committed to serving new and existing businesses throughout the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. Services include Microloans (Small Business Loans from $5,000 to $50,000), Technical Assistance and One-On-One Support, No-Cost Referrals to Local Business Resources, and Educational Presentations on Access to Capital. The mission of Working Solutions is to provide underserved microentrepreneurs with the access to capital and resources they need to successfully start or grow viable businesses.

Last updated August 3, 2022