Finally, Someone Wants to Give You Money If you dismissed micro loans in the past, it's time to look again.
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There is, at last, good word from the world of small-business finance. The word is "micro."
The Obama administration has revived funding for the micro-lending industry, which targets federal money and provides incentives for banks to support "micro enterprises"--businesses with five or fewer employees, small enough to require initial capital of $35,000 or less. Tiny, indeed, but altogether there are more than 23 million such businesses in the United States, employing about 18 percent of the workforce.
Micro loans range from $500 to $35,000 and typically are administered by local nonprofit lenders in the form of installment loans, rather than lines of credit. Most banks regard micro loans as too costly to administer directly to small-business owners, so nonprofit intermediaries such as the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance and the Detroit Micro-Enterprise Fund work with capital from banks and donations from foundations to make loans with limited paperwork, more business assistance and slightly higher interest rates.