Published By: RI Small Business Journal (RISBJ)
PROVIDENCE, RI – Since becoming a small business lender in Rhode Island in 2009, the South Eastern Economic Development (SEED) Corporation has made 65 loans totaling $7.3 million. As a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) designated intermediary lender, SEED is the leading micro lender in Southern New England. Under the Micro Loan Program, SEED made 38 micro loans in Rhode Island since 2009, totaling $1,071,000 and creating 95 jobs.
The SBA Micro Loan Program encourages loans up to $50,000 for start-up and existing small businesses, including home-based businesses. SEED also makes larger loans under its Small Loan and SBA 504 Programs.
“We are very pleased to be able to assist small businesses in Rhode Island to start-up, grow and create jobs,” stated Maria Gooch-Smith, SEED’s executive director. “As a non-bank community lender, SEED can make small business loans, which a bank might not be able to make, such as loans to start-up businesses and those with tight cash flow and limited collateral,” added Gooch-Smith.
Last year, entrepreneur Brian Sousa approached SEED seeking an SBA Micro Loan to assist in the start-up of his rolling creperie food truck business. With SEED’s help, in addition to his personal injection, Sousa was able to get his business up and running in July 2014 and make O’Crepe a well-known hot spot in the city of Providence. O’Crepe offers crepes of the savory and sweet varieties, both food and dessert selections, providing breakfast and lunch to locals, business professionals and students that frequent downtown Providence. Their Facebook page is www.facebook.com/ocreperi.
According to Tamarah Bacon, SEED’s Assistant Vice President, Business Development & Assistance Manager, loan funds are flexible and can be used for: working capital; inventory; furniture and fixtures; and machinery and equipment. The maximum term on the loans is six years and the current rate is six percent fixed with no pre-payment penalty.
“A micro loan can be a portion of the total financing needed by a small business,” explained Bacon. “If a borrower needs to finance $150,000, and a bank is willing to lend $100,000, SEED can provide a $50,000 micro loan, thus filling the gap and completing the financing package for the borrower,” added Bacon.
Other small businesses recently financed in Rhode Island under the Micro Loan Program include:
- A.G. Services, LLC, Providence
- American Chest Company, Wickford
- Angkor Restaurant, Inc., Providence
- Aten Energy Conservation, LLC, Providence
- Barlow’s Plumbing & Well Systems, Scituate
- Hair Heart & Soul Spa & Salon, Bristol
- O’Crepe, LLC, Providence
- Raven Ridge Landscaping, North Kingstown
- Rive Gauche Day Spa, Woonsocket
- The Rhody Center for World Music, Pawtucket
- Total Body Affinity, Johnston
SEED is also a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), under the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and can make loans to Rhode Island borrowers up to $200,000, for working capital and real estate projects. The term on the loans is up to ten years. If necessary, longer repayment periods are available. Interest rates range from five to six percent fixed.
Start-up business owners are required to provide a business plan and financial projections with their application. All small business owners need to have a credit score of at least 600. SEED focuses on the past two years to see how debt has been handled, and also reviews the small business owner’s household income to see if there is repayment ability.
“SEED can be flexible with repayment terms and collateral, and is willing to take a second or third lien position on the small business owner’s home,” stated Bacon.
The application process for loans up to $200,000 includes completing SEED’s application form, and providing federal income tax returns for three years for the small business and the owners. The list of other documentation required can be found in the application form which is available on SEED’s website www.seedcorp.com. The approval process takes approximately two weeks if the small business provides all the necessary information.
For more information about the SBA Micro Loan Program, or other SEED loan programs, and free entrepreneurial workshops, please call 508-822-1020 x 312 or visit SEED at www.seedcorp.com.