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Commercial Loans


Since 1980, Self-Help has made more than $1.5 billion in responsible commercial loans to businesses, nonprofits and community development projects. That experience means we know how to make your loan a success, even for complex or unusual projects. 

Our lending supports both commercial real estate and small business projects. We focus our impact and expertise in the following sectors: charter schools, childcare centers, faith-based institutions, healthy foods, affordable housing, small businesses and nonprofits.

Whether you need a small loan to expand your small business, or a large loan to finance a major construction project or something in between, we're here to help your business or nonprofit succeed. Our goal is to support your vision with financing that makes good business sense.

Getting a Commercial Loan from Self-Help

We offer loans from $15,000 and up,* with no maximum size. We lend to businesses and nonprofits in a variety of industries, and specialize in sectors like child care loans, food system loans and more. 

Step One:

Check out the sector page for the sector that best matches your project (linked below) to learn more about eligibility and loan terms.

Our Sectors:

Step Two:

Complete our pre-application form and we will be in touch with you to discuss the specifics of your project.

 

* Need a loan for less than $15,000? Contact your local branch.

 

Our Underwriting Criteria

Responsible lending is part of our mission. To finance your project, our team will want to know that your business or nonprofit can handle the debt you're taking on. We analyze projects by looking at several factors:

  • Mission: Our lending supports our mission to create and protect economic opportunity, especially in underserved communities. We aim to finance projects that help families and communities thrive.
  • Cash Flow: Our team needs confidence that your business earns enough revenue to support the debt payments you take on. We typically require projects to maintain a certain debt service coverage ration, which means your business needs to cover our debt service payments each year with some amount of revenue left over.
  • Capital: If you are looking for financing, we want to make sure you have equity in the project too. You may already have this equity, or ownership, in your property, or we may require a new cash investment. 
  • Collateral: Self-Help makes loans that are fully secured by collateral such as real estate. If there is not enough collateral, we have programs that may help fill the gap.
  • Capacity: Our team will examine the capacity and experience of project owners, managers and guarantors, to make sure the project has appropriate support.

 

our lending supports both commercial real estate and small business projects. We focus our impact and expertise in the following sectors:

• Healthy foods • Charter schools • Childcare centers • Faith-based institutions

• Affordable housing • Small businesses • Non-profits • Healthcare

 

our lending supports both commercial real estate and small business projects. We focus our impact and expertise in the following sectors:

• Healthy foods • Charter schools • Childcare centers • Faith-based institutions

• Affordable housing • Small businesses • Non-profits • Healthcare

 

our lending supports both commercial real estate and small business projects. We focus our impact and expertise in the following sectors:

• Healthy foods • Charter schools • Childcare centers • Faith-based institutions

• Affordable housing • Small businesses • Non-profits • Healthcare

 

our lending supports both commercial real estate and small business projects. We focus our impact and expertise in the following sectors:

• Healthy foods • Charter schools • Childcare centers • Faith-based institutions

• Affordable housing • Small businesses • Non-profits • Healthcare

 

Our lending supports our mission to create and protect economic opportunity, especially in underserved communities. We aim to finance projects that help families and communities thrive.

 

Our lending supports our mission to create and protect economic opportunity, especially in underserved communities. We aim to finance projects that help families and communities thrive.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Self-Help's commercial lending team finances small business, nonprofit, and larger commercial real estate loans. Most of our loans are traditional real-estate-secured term loans, used for things like property acquisition, construction, refinance, expansions, renovations, working capital or equipment purchases. 
  • Our commercial loans have a minimum size of $15,000 and no maximum limit. If you need a loan smaller than $15,000, contact your local Self-Help branch—they may be able to help.
  • Our commercial lending team does not originate consumer loans or non-commercial vehicle loans. But our branches do! Please reach out to your nearest Self-Help branch for those requests.
  • For loans under $500,000, you can see a more detailed Small Business FAQ here
  • We do most of our lending in the areas where we have credit union branches (North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Illinois and California). However, we may lend to projects across the country, depending on special programs and grants.
  • Loans under $500,000 are typically limited to North Carolina and Illinois.

We do not currently offer lines of credit.

We consider certain kinds of residential real estate investments — typically only those with explicit affordable or workforce housing components. Our primary focus within residential real estate is on multifamily properties. Please reach out to us regarding your specific request.
  • We sure do! Self-Help participates in the SBA 7A and 504 programs. Small businesses will need to submit a Self-Help loan application and work with a Self-Help loan officer to determine whether an SBA program is a good fit. 
  • The SBA 7(a) loan program is SBA's primary loan program for expanding access to capital for small businesses. The SBA 7(a) program offers the same benefits of the SBA Community Advantage program that many other CDFIs offer, but is different in that SBA 7(a) loans typically have lower interest rates than SBA Community Advantage loans and have no technical assistance requirements. The proceeds of an SBA 7(a) loan may be used for a variety of business purposes, including real estate, equipment, inventory, tenant improvements and working capital. The SBA 7(a) program is a good fit for businesses that have sufficient cash flow to repay the loan but lack sufficient collateral or operating history to obtain a loan. is the program many banks offer. 
  • The SBA 504 loan program is a good option for low down payment, long-term financing to acquire or improve major fixed assets, such as owner-occupied real estate or machinery/equipment with a 10-year (or longer) useful life. If an SBA 504 loan is the right fit for your business, Self-Help can work with you and a local SBA certified development company to finance your project. 
  • To learn more about SBA loan programs, visit SBA's website at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans.
A healthy credit score is best, but Self-Help can consider lower scores. A borrower with a lower score may need to have a co-signer.
We do! Please note, we will sometimes require a personal guaranty.
Our process typically involves working with a small loan team: a business development officer to review your information, a loan officer to underwrite your project and have it approved by our underwriters or our credit committee, and a closing team member to finalize the loan documentation and disbursement.
The time it takes to originate a new loan can range from six weeks to several months, depending on the loan size, complexity of the project, and the preparedness of the borrower. Your Self-Help contact can address any project-specific questions you may have.
We analyze loan projects based on a business's cash flow, real estate collateral, credit history, capital investment, overall experience and management, and positive community and mission impacts.
Each application comes with a list of required documents for submissions. Depending on the loan type, these required documents may vary. After you begin working with a business development officer, you can refer to the loan application document checklist they will provide for specific submission requirements.
  • The quickest way to begin is to fill out a non-binding pre-application form here. This will automatically contact our team with your information so that we can reach out to you with instructions for next steps.
  • You can also reach out directly via email to one of our team members (listed below) with questions.