"Microloans" Helping Bay Area Small Businesses

Options for businesses turned down by big banks

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Michael Calore
    Kickstarter helped Mission Street Food expand from its "pop up" digs at Lung Shan to a permanent location at the old El Herradero.

    If you're looking to start or grow a business here in the Bay Area, you might have trouble getting loans from a traditional bank, especially in the wake of the financial disaster that has tightened restrictions on loan eligibility.

    You may, however, find the financial help you need from organizations that are building on programs normally associated with the developing world -- microlenders.

    The San Jose-based Opportunity Fund here in the Bay Area tells Bloomberg BusinessWeek that it's set to offer 30 percent more loans this year than in 2009.

    Other options for credit include San Francisco-based Kiva, which started as a way for individuals to offer loans to people in the developing world but which began giving loans locally last year.

    Credit unions have also gained in popularity, as have peer-to-peer lending sites that match up individuals with money to invest and those looking for some extra capital for small businesses.

    And then there are fundraising sites like New York-based Kickstarter, which has helped everyone from authors to restauranteurs raise money to get projects off the ground.

    Not looking for more credit? Opportunity Fund also offers help with saving for goals including buying a home or starting a business.

    All of which is good news for those burned by the likes of Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

    Jackson West needs to finish a business plan and go get himself a loan.