Entrepreneurs With Disabilities: Finding Funding

Small businesses need access to capital to succeed, but if you’re just starting out, you may not have the cash flow to fund major expansions and capital improvements. If you’re an entrepreneur with a disability and you’re seeking funding to start or grow your business, consider tapping into these lending opportunities:

Loans for Business Owners With Disabilities

Keep in mind that the term “disability” can cover a variety of conditions, including limited mobility, PTSD, or autism. Do your research about what kinds of disabilities your preferred lending service caters to, but don’t rule out that you may be qualified even if the nature of your disability isn’t physical.

  • Accion offers small business loans in amounts ranging from $300 to $100,000 to business owners who may struggle to access typical capital sources. The nonprofit provides disabled business owners with funds for typical business expenses as well as to help with the costs of assistive technology, accessible workplaces, and adaptive work vehicles. They also tailor services to veteran business owners seeking to start or grow a business.
  • The Abilities Fund is a nonprofit community development organization that works to increase the access to entrepreneurship for people with disabilities. While their microlending program is currently only available in Nebraska, they offer a suite of resources customized for people with disabilities pursuing self-employment.

Other Lending Opportunities

While there aren’t many business loans designed just for people with disabilities, disabled entrepreneurs can access financing through a variety of organizations. Online lenders and microlenders are a great option for new business owners and business owners with less-than-stellar credit scores.

  • Kabbage offers loans of $2,000 to $100,000 to business owners with poor credit (500 or higher) and at least $50,000 in annual revenue. Since it serves business owners with poor credit, the annual percentage rates are high at 24 percent to 99 percent. However, it can be a good option for a business that needs quick access to cash it can repay quickly.
  • OnDeck offers small business loans of $5,000 to $500,000 from 9 to 99 percent APR. To qualify for a term loan from OnDeck, a business must have annual revenue of at least $100,000. OnDeck’s qualifications are easier to meet than a traditional bank’s, but required daily or weekly repayments and higher interest rates mean it may not be the right choice for everyone.
  • StreetShares is a veteran-founded lender for small businesses with low revenue ($25,000 or more), a minimum 600 personal credit score, and at least a year of business history. Streetshares’ term loans range from $2,000 to $100,000 and 9 to 40 percent APR. Since the maximum funding you can qualify for is 20 percent of your business’ annual revenue, StreetShares loans are best suited to short-term cash flow needs rather than major expansions.
  • SmartBiz offers one of the lowest interest rates of online lenders (8 to 8.7 percent) on loans from $30,000 to $350,000. To qualify, a business must be in operation for at least two years, have at least $50,000 in annual revenue, have a personal credit score of at least 600, and meet the Small Business Administration’s lending requirements. Unlike Kabbage and OnDeck, SmartBiz loans require more paperwork and time from application to dispersal, but they are a cost-effective option for established businesses seeking growth.
  • Small Business Administration loans can also be obtained through traditional bank lenders, and while business owners may face a lengthy consideration process, the lower interest rates of 6 to 13 percent can make it worth the wait. Business owners can apply for 7(a) loans to start or grow a small business through a participating bank, or a microloan of up to $50,000 through a nonprofit lender. Veterans can benefit from the SBA Express Loan Program, which waives upfront guaranty fees for veteran borrowers. For more information on how to apply, contact your state’s SBA District Office.

Before you start searching for a small business loan, do your homework. Get your paperwork in order so you can demonstrate why you need financing, how you plan to use it, and how it all fits into your business plan. Research banks, online lenders, and microlenders to find the best lender for your needs, and don’t forget to consider non-traditional lending sources like crowdfunding. The better prepared you are before you start looking for funding, the better your chances of finding the capital your small business needs.