Finimpact
Updated on

California Small Business Loans: Local and Online Options

The most significant factor preventing entrepreneurs from turning a small business into a thriving company is the financial investment needed. Here, you can find the best California small business loans for your new or existing business.

California Small Business Loans
Tetiana Sitiugina-Babiuk
Financial Sector Specialist and Content Strategist

Reviewed by: Sarah Brooks, Personal Finance Writer and Editor

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may affect which companies we write about and where the company appears on a page. However, any analyses, or reviews expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been approved or endorsed by any partner.

California is home to an astounding 4.1 million small business enterprises, which makes it the number one American state in terms of small businesses by count. The state’s average small business loan interest rate is between 3% and 7%, depending on the loan institution. Whether you need working capital to help cover day-to-day expenses or you want to open up a new business, a small business loan in California can help your business thrive.

Top Five California Small Business Loan Options

1. California Capital Access Program for Small Business

The California Capital Access Program for Small Business, or CalCAP, presents a credit loss reserve program, which covers up to 100% of small business loans issued by eligible lenders within California. With this program, you may apply for a small business loan of up to $5 million. However, specific borrowers applying under this initiative would be limited to $2.5 million in enrolled capital over three years.

To be considered for the CalCAP scheme, your main company must be located in the state of California. You should also make sure that at least 51 percent of your business revenue, profits, payroll, or workers is located within the state. You can use this loan for various purposes, such as infrastructure acquisitions, operational capital, product purchases, or even startup costs.

2. California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program

The Small Business Finance Center, established by the California government, works in collaboration with seven Financial Development Corporations (FDCs) to offer the Loan Guarantee Program to small businesses. Under the program, the Small Business Finance Center grants between 80% and 95% of the FDCs small business loans.

To be eligible for participation in the Guarantee Program, you must own and manage a small company in California, employing one to 750 staff members. Small business loans available can range up to $20 million, but with guarantees of only up to $2.5 million. These loans have a median maturity period of seven years, but may be longer depending on circumstances. Finally, the corresponding interest rate can vary, depending on which direct lender provides you with a loan.

3. Valley Economic Development Center Small Business Loans

The Valley Economic Development Center, or VEDIC, is a large non-profit business development corporation located in the Los Angeles area. The three types of California small business loans offered by VEDC include standard business loans, VEDC microloans, and microenterprise loans.

  • Standard business loans. The standard loans offered by VEDC can vary between $50,000 and $500,000, with a maturity period anywhere between six months and five years. The origination fee is typically 2% to 3%, while the interest rates start at 8%.
  • VEDC microloans. These microloans are usually smaller in value, ranging between $2,500 and $50,000. Here, the maturity period can vary between six months and five years, while interest rates range from 5% to 7.75%. Finally, the origination fee can be anywhere between 3% and 5%.
  • Microenterprise loans. This is the smallest loan option offered by VEDC, with loan amounts varying from $500 to $2,500. The maturity periods run anywhere from six months to two years, interest rates start at 8.5%, and the associated origination costs range from $25 ro $50.

4. Accion Rapid Loans

While Accion provides small business loans nationwide, its Accion Rapid Loans are only available to California-based small businesses running in Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, and San Bernardino counties.

Accion Rapid Loans offer small business loans ranging from $300 to $8,000, with repayment periods of up to three years. The introductory interest rates are typically set between 14% and 18%, with an additional 1% discount for active-duty services personnel, their wives, and veterans.

The small business loans provided by Accion Rapid Loans are called "rapid" for a reason: the approval from Accion Rapid Loans will arrive in as little as three days. The application requirements include:

  • Registration
  • Proof of address
  • Business address
  • One year’s worth of business tax returns
  • Minimum credit score of 550

5. Housing Authority/LA Community Development Commission SMART Funding Program

The SMART Funding program is offered by the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission/Housing Authority with the goal of providing affordable business loans to existing small and medium businesses.

As such, small companies working within the medical, engineering, and transportation growth industries can apply for SMART Financing business loans that can range anywhere between $25,000 and $1.5 million. These California small business loans may be used for varying purposes, including product or infrastructure purchases, real estate acquisitions, leasehold renovations, operating capital, workforce retention, job creation, or even debt refinancing.

Summary of Top 5 California Small Business Loans

Institution Type of Loans Amounts granted Term Interest Rates
CalCAP Credit loss reserve program and small business loans Up to $5 Million Minimum of three years Depends on the lender
Loan Guarantee Program Loans and Guarantee Scheme 80% -95% up to $2.5 Million Guarantees. Up to $20 Million loans Average of seven years Depends on institution
VEDC Standard business loans, microenterprise loans, and VEDC microloans $50K to $500K;
$2.5K to $50K;
$500 to $2.5K
Six months to five years 8%,
5%-7.75%,
8.5%
Accion Small business loans $300 to $8,000 Up to three years 14% - 18%
LA Community Development Commission Small and Medium business loan $25,000 to $1.5 Million It depends on the loan amount It depends on the loan term

Top Online California Small Business Loan Options

Alongside local loan providers and financial institutions, make sure to take online business loans into consideration. Funding times are typically quicker and qualifications are less stringent, but interest rates and fees may be higher. Below are some of the best online options available to California small businesses.

1. National Funding - Best for Equipment Financing

National Funding offers small businesses two products: working capital loans and equipment financing or leasing. Equipment financing allows you to purchase or lease new or used equipment to improve your business efficiency. With this type of loan, your equipment acts as collateral, which typically means you’ll get a better rate than with traditional small business loans. National Funding does not require a down payment, and you can borrow up to $150,000 for equipment.

Pros
Fast funding times
Lenient qualifications
Early payment discounts
No collateral or down payment required
Cons
Additional fees may apply
Rates can be expensive
national funding review

National Funding small business loans range from $5,000 to $500,000 with repayment terms of four months to two years. Equipment financing loans max out at $150,000 and terms are typically the life of the equipment (two to five years, on average). Rates and fees are not advertised on the website, so we recommend speaking with a representative to discuss your loan in detail before signing.

To qualify for equipment financing, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 575 and be in business for at least two years. You’ll also need to provide an equipment quote from your selected vendor. For a small business loan, the minimum credit score requirement is 600 and you’ll need to be in business for at least six months. Both types of loans require an annual income of $250,000 or more.

The Bottom Line

If you need to purchase new or used equipment for your small business, National Funding is our top recommendation. With low credit score requirements, high borrowing limits, and an easy application, National Funding is worth looking into.

Try National Funding

2. Bluevine - Best for Business Line of Credit

Bluevine provides lines of credit to assist you in paying for immediate small business needs, such as inventory, payroll, or manufacturing costs. The online loan process is incredibly fast and takes just 10 minutes to complete, and you can receive a decision in as little as five minutes. Once approved, funds are available with just the click of a button.

Pros
Speedy online applications
Fast decision and funding times
Only pay interest on what you use
Excellent customer service
Cons
Interest rates can be expensive
Personal guarantee required
Line of credit has a draw fee
Services are only available for B2B companies
bluevine review

Bluevine offers lines of credit up to $250,000 with rates starting at 4.8%. You can choose terms of either six or 12 months, with weekly or monthly repayment periods. Bluevine does not charge origination fees, maintenance fees, or early payment fees. Once you pay back your line of credit, you can use it again up to your approved credit limit.

To qualify for a line of credit from Bluevine, you need to have a minimum credit score of 625, be in business at least six months, and have $10,000 per month in revenue.

Bottom Line

Bluevine is an excellent choice if you need a California business line of credit. They offer fast funding times, flexible payment plans, and loan limits up to $250,000.

Try BlueVIne

Learn more about BlueVine in our comprehensive review.

3. Fundera - Best for Multiple Loan Options

Fundera is a loan marketplace, not a direct lender. They offer several different loan types and will match you to the best lender for your small business needs. As such, you will be able to choose from a variety of preferential rates based on your loan requirements to find what suits your business best.

Pros
Best rates for business loans
Various lenders available
Financial services and advice
Multiple integrations
Cons
Not a direct lender
Additional fees may apply to certain accounts
It can take up to three weeks to receive funding
Fundera review

Fundera is your one-stop shop for business financing. They offer many different loan products, including short-term business loans, business lines of credit, SBA loans, equipment financing, merchant cash advances, startup business loans and more. The application is quick and allows you to apply for multiple loans from multiple lenders.

Fundera’s business term loans range from $5,000 to $600,000, with terms between three months and three years. Rates typically range from 7%-30% and funding can be as quick as three hours from loan approval.

Because Fundera is not a direct lender, qualifications will vary. On average, though, you should aim to have a minimum credit score of 550 and be in business for at least six months. Monthly revenue requirements will vary, but most lenders want to see a minimum of $3,000 per month.

Try Fundera

Learn more about Fundera in our comprehensive review.

4. Fundbox - Best for Low Credit Score Business Loans

Fundbox offers lines of credit and term loans up to $150,000. The application is quick and you’ll receive a funding decision within three minutes. If approved, funds are available as soon as the next business day. Their minimum credit score is just 600, making them ideal for California small businesses with less-than-perfect credit.

Bonus: If you get a loan or line of credit from Fundbox and make your payments on time, they’ll offer you a lower rate next time you apply. If you foresee the need for many business loans over the life of your business, Fundbox is an excellent money-saving option.

Pros
Fast online application
Accepts lower credit scores
Receive up to $150,000 in pre-approved credit
Re-apply for new credit effortlessly
Cons
Rates can be expensive
Borrower qualifications can be hard to meet
Repayments are required frequently
fundbox review

Fundbox offers term loans and lines of credit up to $150,000. For term loans, you choose a repayment period of 24 or 52 weeks, with payments being made weekly. Rates start at 8.33% for 24 week terms. Lines of credit come with repayment periods of either 12 or 24 weeks each time you make a draw. Rates start at 4.66% for 12 week terms, and payments are also made weekly.

To qualify for a loan of line of credit from Fundbox, you’ll need a credit score of at least 600, be in business at least six months, and have an annual revenue of $100,000 or more.

The Bottom Line

With a low minimum credit score requirement of 600, Fundbox is our top pick for low credit California small business loans. Fundbox offers fast funding times, flexible repayment terms, and a discount to repeat customers.

Try Fundbox

Learn more about Fundbox in our comprehensive review.

Organizations Providing Support to California Small Businesses

Starting a small business is a truly life-changing experience. The good news is that California offers dozens of great resources that can help you get started and effectively grow your business. Below, you will find some of the top organizations that can provide valuable information and support for your company.

1. SCORE

SCORE presents the largest network for free small business mentorship and education throughout the United States. If you need assistance starting or growing your small business, you can benefit from numerous free services and resources offered by SCORE, including:

  • Confidential business mentoring with an industry professional
  • Online workshops and courses on topics like startup strategies, financial planning, and marketing
  • A rich library of online resources, including administrative templates and tools, checklists, videos, infographics, and more

2. Managed Career Services

Managed Career Services is a Los Angeles-based organization that provides valuable support to California small businesses through three major programs:

  • The MCS LA Business Source program helps business owners and entrepreneurs to build a business from the idea stage to a successful company.
  • Future Entrepreneurs in LA provides education and mentorship to young entrepreneurs to help them successfully launch a business.
  • Working LA is a creative workspace that houses startups, freelancers, and established businesses alike.

3. Latin Business Association

The Latin Business Association offers support for Latinos in the state of California in the form of networking, business planning, mentorship, and legal assistance. The organization holds regular events and conferences covering important topics like business networking or access to funding.

However, keep in mind that the Latin Business Association provides its services only to businesses owned and operated by Latinos.

Other Resources for California Small Businesses

In addition to financial help and small business mentorship, California has numerous resources that can help you out along the way.

General Resources

News and Media Resources

  • The 100 Most Underrated Small Business Blogs is a comprehensive list of business blogs that focus on small businesses. This list compiles original and vital content.
  • Inc.com is an online magazine for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
  • The Wall Street Journal offers advice on starting a business, as well as databases of for-sale companies and venture capital.
  • Entrepreneur.com is a magazine with ideas, articles, and resources for starting a business.
  • Inc. Magazine is a great resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Here, you can find in-depth social reports, the annual list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States, as well as daily news on tech, money, and management.

How to Apply for a Small Business Loan in California

There are a few requirements that you'll need to get ready to include in your application for a small business loan in California. The required documents can vary widely depending on the loan or grant you apply for, but there are a few things to bear in mind:

Business Plan

Having a thorough business plan prepared is absolutely essential when applying for a California small business loan. Sponsors and grant agencies will use your marketing strategy to measure your company's projected growth opportunities and the amount of financing you're eligible for. Therefore, you need to make sure that your plan includes a comprehensive description of the company's product or service, potential client base, local and national rivals, and financial forecasts.

Credit Score

Your credit score can play an important role in your ability to obtain a business loan. When applying for a loan with a bank, a good credit score is an absolute must, and even many charities tend to check the credit background of a company owner. Track your credit score daily, correct any mistakes on your credit report, and pay off all existing loans on schedule to boost and maintain your credit.

Business Revenues

Even when you are just getting started, have a viable plan for rising your profit and revenues. Lenders are most likely to lend money to firms with a marketable product and a large consumer base. So, the faster you reach that status, the faster you will have access to additional capital. Even though startup business loans are available, obtaining a loan for an existing revenue-generating business is considerably easier.

Final Words

Without a doubt, California small business loan opportunities are endless, with various private lenders offering products and services to meet virtually any business need. However, many of these loans come with a robust underwriting procedure and strict qualification requirements that can be challenging to meet.

If you aren’t eligible for a loan from a private lender, you can consider using an online business loan provider for the much-needed financing. When deciding which option suits your business needs best, make sure to conduct thorough research and consider options from national, statewide, and local sources alike.

Tetiana Sitiugina-Babiuk

Written by: Tetiana Sitiugina-Babiuk

Financial Sector Specialist and Content Strategist

Independent writer, content strategist, and financial sector specialist. Tatiana has an extensive experience in working with financial institutions such as Bank of Canada and Risk Management unit at FinDev Canada. She holds an MA in Financial Risk Management from the University of Toronto.

More about me
arah Brooks Personal Finance Writer and Editor

Reviewed by: Sarah Brooks

Personal Finance Writer and Editor

Sarah Brooks is a personal finance writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. She specializes in personal and business loans, mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards.

More about me

Related Loan Picks