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 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. Local nonprofits manage the funds. They also offer training and other resources.
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
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
- Real Estate
- Tenant Improvements
Nonprofit & Community Lenders
Loans from nonprofit and community lenders often 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.
Bank loans are one of the most traditional and conservative ways to finance a business. They can 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 require a business plan as part of the application.
To address the difficulty many small businesses experience in accessing capital through a bank, the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector and the City Administrator’s Office started SF Lends. It is an initiative that aims to connect small businesses to affordable loans and lines of credit for their day-to-day cashflow needs. The financial products identified through SF Lends are publicly available, so anyone can apply. Additionally, SF Lends is tailored to support Certified City & County of San Francisco Local Business Enterprises (LBE’s) with active contractual relationships with the government – direct or subcontract. The City will validate certification and contract status on behalf of these LBEs during underwriting.
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 is a local non-profit that provides 0% interest loans up to $15,000 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 helps clients participate in lending circles to help low-income businesses access 0 interest loans and build credit.
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 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 loans range from $5,000 to $100,000 in the Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles.
Pacific Community Ventures is a mission-driven lender that provides fair and affordable loans up to $250,000 to California small businesses with at least 12 months in business.
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 is a designated intermediary lender for the US Small Business Administration’s 7(m) Microloan program. This program provides commercial loans up to $50,000, to small businesses that have been unable to secure conventional bank loans.
The SF LGBT Center assists LGBTQ entrepreneurs in San Francisco through a variety of programs including one-on-one business consulting and coaching, various business workshops, a new entrepreneur training program, the Queer Street Marketplace, and referrals to a vast small business development network for funding and other support.
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 $100,000), 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.