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Carolina Small Business Development Fund provides financing solutions and guidance to help entrepreneurs achieve their business goals. If you are looking to start or expand your business, we offer loans that are designed to meet your needs.




Up to $250,000 for all types of businesses in a wide range of industries

Flexible terms to meet your needs

Personalized assistance



Schedule a meeting with a member of our Business Solutions Team to discuss options and review eligibility, before applying for a loan.



Gather Your Information and Apply

Compile required documents such as: personal and federal tax returns, financial statements, business plan, and resumes of key management.


Review Additional Business Resources

To support clients pre and post loan, CSBDF offers technical assistance and digital training.​


Carolina Small Business is a statewide nonprofit and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). We lend to start-ups and existing businesses across the state, with emphasis on businesses that have difficulty accessing financing through traditional lending sources. Learn more about our core loan products.

Special Loan Products

COVID-19 Loan & Resources

If your business has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, check out the loans, grants, and resources we have available here.

Meck Lending

A partnership with Mecklenburg County and Carolina Small Business Development Fund, that aims to empower entrepreneurs like you to grow their business by applying for up to $75k in financing to meet your business needs. Click here for more information.


Core Loan Product

Carolina Small Business Development Loan

  • For emerging entrepreneurs and established businesses

  • Statewide

  • All industries, excluding sin businesses

Loan Terms
  • Term loans and lines of credit

  • Loan amounts up to $250,000

  • Flexible Loan Terms

Thanks to Carolina Small Business, I have the resources I need to grow my business and I am comfortable knowing I have a resource helping me. Carolina Small Business is a part of my journey and challenges me to build my weak areas and helps me to build my account finances.


- Jimmy Price, A Step Above Cleaning Service


How long does the loan process take?

The length of the process varies based on the scope of application. You will receive feedback from our staff as to the status of your application within 15 days of receiving your completed application. Our staff is happy to assist you in preparing a complete loan application. Most delays occur due to incomplete loan applications. If your application is complete and the process is not held up for missing documents, the processing time is between 30-45 days from receipt of application to loan closing.

What if I have challenging credit?

Your credit score is not the sole requirement of an approved or denied application but the content within the report should reflect good personal financial management. If unfavorable items are reported, we’ll will consider the circumstances impacting repayment ability such as medical emergencies or divorce. Repaired and rebuilt credit can be acceptable. We look favorably on efforts to rectify past credit issues. If you have credit issues, you should write a detailed personal statement explaining circumstances and action taken. Please submit that statement with your loan application as an attachment.

What collateral do I need?

Appropriate collateral depends on many factors, especially the size of your loan request. We will require a personal guarantee and a pledge on business assets as collateral. It is common to also pledge personal assets. Examples of collateral include: home or property, vehicles, equipment, inventory, and accounts receivable.

What can I use the money for?

Loans may be used for the following purposes:

  • Working capital
  • Leasehold improvements
  • The purchase of inventory or supplies
  • The purchase of furniture or fixtures
  • Purchase of commercial real estate
  • Restructure debt (with some limitations)

Loan funds cannot be used for:

  • Personal expenses
  • Delinquent taxes (in most cases)
  • Down payments

What does it take to get a loan?

In general, a successful loan package includes a good business idea and plan and strong business management skills. When considering a loan application, we use the “5 C’s of Credit” as a rule of thumb.

  • Capacity – The capacity of the business and yourself to repay the loan.
  • Collateral – Is the collateral you have offered enough to repay the loan if all else fails?
  • Conditions – The conditions in which your business must succeed. Conditions include but are not limited to: the economy, your competition, and the market.
  • Credit – Your credit history and how you have repaid previous financiers.
  • Character – Your personal characteristics and your ability to successfully operate the business.
The strengths and weaknesses of each “C” are weighed.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is the “roadmap” for your business. A good business plan is your best business management tool and is also required to apply for a loan. There are many local resources and websites that discuss business plans. See our Tools and Templates page for more information.

What if I need more money than Carolina Small Business can lend?

We often work with banks and other community lenders. We can “participate” in multiparty financing. If your needs are greater than $250,000, Carolina Small Business may consider a lending partner to assist with your loan project needs.

What kinds of businesses has Carolina Small Business helped?

We help both startups and existing businesses in both rural and urban regions. Typical businesses are for-profit businesses employing one or more individuals.

  • Professional services
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Services
  • Wholesale
  • Agriculture

What kinds of businesses are not eligible for a loan?

Businesses that tend to lower the real estate value of a community (e.g., liquor stores, “hard” bars, gaming, etc.)

What are the Terms, Interest Rates, and Fees?

Loan terms vary according to:

  • The size of the loan
  • The planned use of funds
  • The purpose of transaction
  • Restrictions imposed by third party partners
Our average interest rates range between 8% and 12%. There are loan fees involved with transactions including: an origination fee, loan documentation preparation fee, and other fees related to perfecting our interest in the provided capital.