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Top Microlenders in the Bay Area and Greater California

Jan. 3, 2017
Small Business, Small Business Loans
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Small businesses are vital to local and regional economies. Local nonprofits not only recognize their contributions, but actively encourage business growth by connecting owners with financing, as well as guidance and networking opportunities.

California has a large community of nonprofit lenders, which typically work with small businesses in disadvantaged areas or entrepreneurs who are just starting out. Microlenders typically offer loans of $50,000 or less, though some provide bigger loans.

Because financing in particular is hard to come by, we’ve rounded up a list of top microlenders in the Golden State and highlighted three with strong connections to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, where startups and small businesses have been known to thrive.

The lenders below are top options for California businesses, based on 2014 data — the most recent available from the Aspen Institute’s FIELD program, which collects information from U.S. microlenders.

Top Bay Area microlenders

Kiva U.S.

Microloans funded in 2014: $2.7 million

Kiva U.S. is a branch of Kiva, an international nonprofit based in San Francisco that seeks to eliminate poverty through crowdfunding programs. Kiva U.S. provides interest-free direct microloans of up to $10,000 to small businesses. To qualify, businesses must pass a “social underwriting” process, meaning they find backers in their own communities or get an endorsement from a Kiva Trustee (an organization or individual who connects borrowers to Kiva) before they are allowed on the crowdfunding site.

Working Solutions

Microloans funded in 2014: $1.7 million

Working Solutions is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides funding to eligible entrepreneurs in all nine Bay Area counties. The organization connects borrowers with loans from $5,000 to $50,000 and prioritizes funding for low-income individuals, women and minorities. Businesses also receive five years of coaching, mentorship and resources.

Mainstreet Launch

Microloans funded in 2014: $1.6 million

Formally OBDC Small Business Finance, Mainstreet Launch provides small businesses in Oakland with loans from $10,000 to $250,000, and small businesses in San Francisco with loans from $25,000 to $250,000. The organization also connects business owners with education and networking opportunities to help them improve their business skills.

Top 10 microlenders in California

OrganizationHeadquartersLoan Volume in 2014Number of Loans in 2014
Opportunity FundSan Jose$17.7 million1,291
Valley Economic Development CenterSherman Oaks$4.4 million325
Accion San DiegoSan Diego$3.1 million324
Kiva U.S.San Francisco$2.7 million578
Working SolutionsSan Francisco$1.7 million85
Mainstreet LaunchOakland$1.6 million45
Fresno CDFIFresno$974,86550
CDC Small Business FinanceSan Diego$847,08728
Santa Cruz Community Credit UnionSanta Cruz$687,97156
California FarmLinkSanta Cruz$452,75931

Apply for Small Business Money Bootcamp in San Francisco

Join NerdWallet, Townsquared, and the San Francisco Small Business Development Center (SF SBDC) in San Francisco on Jan. 25, 2017, for the Small Business Money Bootcamp, a hands-on workshop designed to help you unlock the right capital for your business, including one-on-one sessions with local lenders for loan-ready applicants. To learn more and apply, please visit

For other small-business financing, compare options on NerdWallet’s small-business loans tool page.

Jackie Zimmermann is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @jackie_zm.