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How to Find a Microenterprise Loan for Your Business

If you're looking for start-up capital for your business, but you don't have the credit, collateral or background needed by your bank to get a business loan, then microenterprise might be your best bet.

Microenterprise Development programs have been around since the 1970s. They were created as a way of helping people who couldn't access traditional methods of credit, either because they were too poor, or the amount of money they needed was too small for a bank to be interested.

In the United States, there are over 500 Microenterprise programs designed to help low to moderate income entrepreneurs. In fact, if you have bad credit, no credit and no collateral, you can probably find a microenterprise loan fund in your state, city or town.

What do microenterprise loan programs do?

They provide a variety of financial and business services to entrepreneurs. Some programs provide free or low-cost business classes that will walk you through the process of writing a business plan. Other provide counseling, to help you manage your debt, and understand and use financial planning software. Still others offer business mentors. Most Microenterprise loans have some type of networking program, where you can build relationships with other business people.

How much money can you borrow?

Loan amounts vary from $500 to $25,000. Interest rates are at or below prime, and you don't need to have a lot of collateral or excellent credit in order to apply. In some programs, you can qualify for a smaller loan fairly easily, and then, once it has been repaid, apply for a larger loan. This helps to build your business credit, and insures that you don't over-extend yourself.

What is a microbusiness?

A microbusiness is defined as any business:

that can be started for less than $35,000 has five or less employees has a revenue of less than $100,000 a year What types of businesses qualify for a microenterprise loan?

Traditional businesses such as:

*small specialty shops like hobby shops, florists and gift shops

*small engine or auto repair shops

*bakeries, cafes and sandwich shops

*beauty parlors and barber shops

*arts and craft stores, ceramic shops and art galleries

Non-traditional businesses such as:

*massage therapists, acupuncturists, hypno-therapists

*business, life and relationship coaches

*soap and essential oil manufacturers

*artists, painters and jewelry makers

*doggie daycare owners, mobile beauty shops and in-home computer repair

Where can you find a program in your area?

One of the biggest problems with finding a microenterprise loan program is that they are often not very well advertised, and may not even be called a "microenterprise development program" so unless you know where to look it can be frustrating. Here are some ideas to get you started:

*The Small Business Adminisration

*Your local Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development Agency

*Small Business Development Center in your area

*Your bank or credit union

*Women's organizations, business support groups

*http://www.microenterprisesuccess.com -- you can find free microenterprise resources indexed by state here

The main thing to remember is that if you're really serious about starting your own business, there are resources available to help you, so don't give up!

Cheryl Antier is the President of Dream Weaver Enterprises, a business and fundraising consulting company. MAPS (Microenterprise Answers to your Personal Success)is a membership organization that helps women to start, grow and succeed in small business ownership. Find free resources indexed by state, learn about grants and small business programs by signing up for our free newsletter at http://www.microenterprisesuccess.com

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