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ou have a great idea but are lacking the capital to get your venture off the ground. It's a common problem. Traditionally, you acquire these funds through conventional business loans offered by banks or other financial institutions. But maybe you don't need substantial cash to start a business. Or perhaps you're new to the business word and don't have a high enough credit score to qualify for conventional loans. This is where microlending comes into play.

Microlending, also known as microfinance, lends money to lower-income business owners in much smaller amounts than banks typically offer. The average microloan is around $13,000, with amounts ranging anywhere between $25 and $50,000. To acquire a microloan, individuals utilize a variety of microfinance platforms connecting interested investors with business owners in need of financial support. Microlending has some incredible benefits, so knowing how to apply for a microloan and navigating the process can give your business the boost it's been looking for.

Benefits of microlending

There are several unique advantages to seeking investment capital through the microlending market. Whether you're unable to qualify for a conventional business loan or need a smaller sum of capital than banks typically offer, there are numerous opportunities to find funding through microfinance that are well worth exploring.

Accessibility to funding for small businesses

Since microlending involves relatively small sums of capital, it's usually much more accessible for business owners to qualify for microloans than conventional loans. Many microloans are available for little to no collateral and have relatively simple eligibility requirements. Businesses with poor credit scores or little borrowing experience can typically acquire a microloan.

Flexible terms and repayment options

Microloans often come with negotiable repayment terms of up to six years or longer. In addition, microloan providers usually offer flexible repayment options in contrast to conventional business loans. This makes microloans an excellent choice for business owners operating within tight margins who may struggle to repay a larger loan within a shorter period.

Opportunity for building credit

One of the most significant benefits of microlending is it provides an easy way for business owners to build a credit history. Paying down the loan each month helps improve your credit score over time, making it much less challenging to qualify for larger loans in the future. If you've never borrowed from a bank, credit union, or financial services provider before, taking out a microloan is a great place to start.

Types of microlending institutions

Aside from microlending platforms, various non-profit organizations and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) provide microloans to business owners. Each option provides unique opportunities for an entrepreneur looking for a leg up or a business owner who wants to start a new initiative.

Non-profit organizations

Many non-profit groups specialize in providing microlending solutions to people worldwide. One such non-profit is Kiva, an online crowdfunding community that connects investors with underserved business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide. Additional non-profits providing microloans include the Women's Microfinance Initiative and GiveWell, both of which focus on providing financial solutions to those who need financial assistance the most.

Community development financial institutions (CDFIs)

Though CDFI is a relatively new term, the concept dates back centuries. They operate as a way for businesses overlooked by traditional institutions to receive notice and funding. Over 950 CDFIs currently provide financial support to at-risk communities across America. Many banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions support CDFI programs that aim to primarily serve people of color, women, and individuals who would otherwise not qualify for conventional loans or other financial services.

Microlending platforms

Online platforms make it easy for anyone to apply for a microloan. A few popular microlending platforms include Lendee, Solo Funds, and the Dave App, a service offering users cash advances of up to $500. These microlending platforms offer varying term lengths and interest rates on their loans, so it's important to carefully review their offerings before selecting a provider.

Applying for a microloan

Applying for a microloan is similar to applying for a traditional business loan. You'll need to create a business plan, seek out potential lenders, and compare options to find the best microloan provider.

Preparing a business plan

Create a comprehensive business plan that puts everything into perspective. This includes basic information about your target market, projected sales over the next few years, and what your microloan will help fund. Be sure to cover all the financial fundamentals of your venture in your business plan, including income, profit, cash flow, and operating expenses.

Researching potential lenders

With your business plan ready, you can start researching various lenders in your area who provide microloans. Focus on lenders you've worked with in the past or who appear to offer the best terms and interest rates. Also, look at online reviews of various lenders to determine which option provides the best customer experience.

Meeting with lenders and submitting an application

Once you've selected a lender, it's time to meet with them in person and submit an application. The lender will carefully review your business plan and application to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements. This process could take several days to get approved, so don't get discouraged if your funds are not released immediately.

Reviewing and accepting loan terms

Ensure everything is in order once you've received approval. Pay special attention to the proposed interest rate and any fine print that may contain caveats to the agreement. After accepting the microloan agreement, you can expect funds in your bank account shortly thereafter.


Microlending is an invaluable financial tool for small business owners to purchase inventory and equipment or to cover operating costs over the short- to mid-term. Consider what microloans have to offer if other loan options aren't available due to a poor credit score or lack of borrowing history.

At Novo, our free online banking platform makes it easy to keep track of all your business finances. In just ten minutes, you can set up your FDIC-insured checking account with zero monthly fees, create unlimited invoices for free, and gain access to many partner perks that can help you save more money.

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

Novo is a fintech, not a bank. Banking services provided by Middlesex Federal Savings, F.A.: Member FDIC.

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