Find a list of business loan as well as free grant programs in California that may be near you below. There are a number of lenders, non-profits, and government programs that try to fund disadvantaged businesses. Black owned businesses, companies owned by women, Latino, and other small minority owned businesses can apply for the funds they need from these lenders or programs. Get help in 2023 from minority business loans in California or other sources of funding.
There are a number of options available for business owners or anyone who is seeking to start a company, and find year round regional as well as monthly programs all listed below. There may be low interest rate or even interest free loans or grants for Black owned companies, LGBTQ companies, Latino, immigrants, Asians, women businesses as well as other minority groups, including veterans in California. While the main cities of Los Angles, San Diego, and San Francisco will have the most minority and/or women owned business loans and free grants available, there are assistance programs all across the state. However note that In general, the funds are available from lenders by city or county and not statewide.
The amount of money as well as the application process will vary based on the lender and the program available. Free grants or loans during calendar year 2023 can be issued to small or medium businesses and some lenders (or government programs) may even help minority or women entrepreneur (MWBE)s as well as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). If you are looking for money to start a business, or grow an existing one, assistance is available. Find more details below on the latest programs, with come focused on grants for Black women in California.
Small minority or women business loans and free grants in California
Below is a list of grants and loans for small women or minority owned businesses in California. It is updated daily with the newest announcements at the top of the list. A number of California banks, government programs, and community agencies continually issue funds to Black, Latino, women, LGBTQ and other minority owned or run businesses.
Year round free financial and business coaching assistance programs
Find details below by general category, including geography in California and/or whether a grant or loan programs gives “priority” to a certain type of business. The bottom line is that there is financial help out there, both year round and by month, for small, MWBE and veteran owned businesses.
Statewide California MWBE assistance programs
Kiva microloans are offered across California. Borrowers, even those with limited or no credit history, or limited or no revenue, can get 0% interest rate loans. Up to $15,000 can be borrowed to start or grow a business. A major focus is on minority, Latino, LGBTQ, veteran, and women owned businesses – all of which historically lack access to capital. The financial aid is a peer to peer type lending program. Find details below by city or region.
Oakland area: https://www.kivaushub.org/oakland. Or try Mandela Partners, which provides access to Capital from Kiva loans, an Entrepreneurs program, free one on one advising and other business services. Read more. https://www.mandelapartners.org/.
Northern California is also covered by San Jose and Santa Clara County region: A major focus from Kiva loans is on tech companies. https://www.kivaushub.org/san-jose.
The central part of the state is Fresno and Central Valley is supported by the Black Chamber of Commerce: https://fmbcc.com/resource/kiva-fresno/.
Los Angeles and Southern California, in particular Latino owned businesses: https://www.new-wbc.org/programs/ or the City of Long Beach Economic Development Department helps entrepreneurs and small businesses. https://www.longbeach.gov/economicdevelopment/business-development/kiva-long-beach/
Black Small Business Association operates across the state. They give assistance, advocate for BIPC businesses, and have a host of resources. They offer information on loan forgiveness programs, help with setting up a business (legally), offer free workshops as well as training and so much more. Get details on the non-profit here. https://www.bsba-ca.org/
California Farmlink provides a number of assistance programs to farmers in the state including women owned and those owned by people of color. The non-profit Farmlink helps provide access to capital, both their own low cost loans and possibly interest free loans from Kiva (as they are a Trustee). They also offer coaching, help with land use or development needs, and in general try to help farmers succeed. Learn more on CA Farmlink here. https://www.californiafarmlink.org/
CDC Small Business Finance is a non-profit lender (one of the nation’s largest) and has a low-cost loan program for Black owned businesses. The Activate loan program is focused on Black business owners who lack access to capital, such as those with limited or bad credit histories and other challenges. Learn more here. https://cdcloans.com/activate-loans/
The Center by Lendistry has a free Digital Literacy Accelerator program. There is Business Advising, Education, Access to Loans and Capital from a non-profit CDFI and other support. A major focus is in BIPOC businesses. Get details here. https://thecenterbylendistry.org/digital-literacy-accelerator/
Northern and/or Central California MWBE assistance programs
Berkeley and Bay area businesses can turn to the non-profit at Microfinance at Berkeley. The non-profit offers everything from business workshops to access to microloans from Kiva (at 0% interest rates). They also offer consulting, workshops in the region, and other free services. All sorts of businesses, including MWBE, can get help. Learn more here. https://callink.berkeley.edu/organization/microfinanceatberkeley
California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce Foundation operates in the Central Valley and Sacramento region. They help owners and startups access capital, assist with marketing and revenue opportunities, bonding, and offer a Small Business Triage Center among other services. The goal is to help Asian Americans start or grow a business. Get more information https://www.calasiancc.org/
Centro Community covers the bay area and northern parts of California. Low income households, minorities and “underserved” can try the organization for free training, information on grants, financial aid and more. Apply for 0% (interest free loans) from the Kiva Trustee. as well, or try the Basic or Advanced Entrepreneurship Programs. There is also an advisor program. Find details here. https://www.centrocommunity.org/
Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative provides a number of assistance programs to immigrant owned businesses, Latinos, and migrants in the Central Valley area of CA. Get grants, support from the Immigrant entrepreneurs, coaching and more. A main program is known as Immigrant Entrepreneurship, which provides free ongoing training and more. Find details on the non-profit here. https://cviic.org/
CSU Bakersfield Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provide assistance in Kern County and Central CA. They will often have grants, such as state financial assistance programs including the Dream Fund. There is also free one-on-one advising, business development workshops, loans and more. Learn more here. https://csubsbdc.com/
East Bay SBDC helps small businesses and entrepreneurs in Northern California and the Bay area. They help them locate, and apply, for grants, loans, and other support. A major focus is on minority businesses, such as Asian, LGTBQ+, businesses owned by women or people of color and others. Apply here. https://www.eastbaysbdc.org/
Women entrepreneurs and female owned small business in the El Pájaro and Watsonville region can turn to the Women Business Center run by the El Pájaro Community Development Corporation. The non-profit helps women, including those of color, start a business or operate an existing one. Whether free coaching, information on loans or counseling, grant programs, or other help, there are resources. Read more. https://www.elpajarocdc.org/
Fresno small businesses, in particular Latino, Veteran, Women, and Black owned small businesses can get interest free loans from the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce. The assistance is offered in partnership with Kiva. In general, between $1,000 and $15,000 can be borrowed. Kiva is a non-profit that focuses on helping small businesses start and grow. Kiva is a crowdfunding source for business owners, and all the loans have zero percent interest rates. Apply here. https://fmbcc.com/
Fresno and Valley area Asian owned businesses can turn to the Asian Business Institute and Resource Center for help. They offer a number of free resources, including help with marketing, technical assistance, referrals to fund raising programs ranging from equity to grants, and general “exposure”. The non-profit supports Asian owned businesses in the region. Learn more here. http://fresnoabirc-1347082944.us-west-2.elb.amazonaws.com/
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley is a non-profit that helps Latino-Hispanic business owners as well as entrepreneurs with a number of services. The Chamber is a Kiva Trustee, meaning 0% (interest free) loans may be issued. There is ongoing business training, free mentoring, technical or legal help for business owners, marketing guidance and other assistance arranged, based in need. Learn more here. https://hccsv.com/index.html
Kern County and Bakersfield small, disadvantaged businesses (women and minority owned) can get help from the Kern County Women’s Business Center. Staff, including professionals and volunteers, give free advice. They help advise business owners, help them apply for funding (low interest or forgivable loans as well as grants), offer mentoring, getting government work from contracting, and so much more. The Center was opened in partnership with Mission Community Services Corporation (MCSC). Find details. https://www.mcscorp.org/kern
Kern, San Luis Obispo, city of Bakersfield, and Monterey County small businesses can get help from the Mission Community Services Corporation. They offer assistance to minority as well as immigrant owned businesses as well as entrepreneurs. They offer free workshops on starting or growing a company, free coaching and consultation, and information on financial help from grants or loans among other support. There are multiple offices. Read more. https://www.mcscorp.org/
Mission Economic Development Agency helps Latinos in San Francisco and the Bay area. They provide interest free micro-loans as part of the Kiva program. The non-profit also helps Hispanic and Latino, both women and male entrepreneurs, launch a business. There is information on business plan development, technical help, ecommerce advice, and support from the greater community of mentors. A wide range of free business development services are offered, and learn more on Mission Development. https://medasf.org/programs/fondo-adelante-community-loan-fund/business-development/
La Cocina helps entrepreneurs start a food business. They focus on people of color, immigrants, low-income people and those with limited or no experience (or even credit). Get help starting a food truck, restaurant, cafe or other food type business. Get details here. https://lacocinasf.org/
Oakland Black Business Fund (OBBF) provides (1) grant funds, (2) equity investments and (3) technical assistance to Black owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups across the entire Bay area, including Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, and nearby cities. There are free grants, low cost loans, and other funds that can assist non-profit and for-profit businesses. Read more here. https://oaklandblackbusinessfund.org
Oakland California Uptima Business Bootcamp and Entrepreneur Cooperative is an accelerator program. They offer man services to start ups and existing business owners. One is interest free microloans for funding. They also offer free advising, bootcamps, networking events, free workshops and more. A major focus is on women as well as business owners (or entrepreneurs) of color. Here is a list of their assistance programs. https://uptimacoop.com/oakland
Sacramento area businesses can get help from California Capital. They focus on economic development, and one main component of it is business development for MWBE companies and entrepreneurs as well as immigrants, veterans, and the LGTBQ community. Programs include low cost (or interest free loans), the Women Business Development Center, help developing strategies, Microlending as well as State of California loan guarantees. Other assistance is offered too. Learn about the non-profit here. https://cacapital.org/
San Francisco Small Business Development Center provides 0% APR loans in partnership with Kiva. The center is part of the School of Business of City College of San Francisco. There are assistance programs for start-ups, free webinars, assistance for small tech companies and restaurants and so much more. The microloans are focused on LGTBQ+ as well as minorities in the area. Learn more. https://www.sfsbdc.org/
San Francisco (City and County) has a government agency that keeps a list of grant programs, loans, and financing opportunities. There is help for Entrepreneurs, disaster relief services, funds for Black or Asian owned businesses and other assistance. Find details here. https://sf.gov/information/find-grant-your-small-business
Valley Sierra Small Business Development Center offers a number of assistance programs. Get information on microloans, business plan creation, accounting, e-commerce and more. All services are in Spanish as well. The non-profit provide help in the counties of Fresno, Kern, Inyo, Kings, Maripo, Merced, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Benito, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, , Madera, and Tulare. Learn more. https://valleysierrasbdc.com/
Women’s Business Center at JEDI helps female entrepreneurs and small business owners. They help business raise money, apply for grants, and grow their business (or start one). They are based in Redding and Mount Shasta. Learn more https://www.wbcjedi.org/
Southern California loans, grants, and other small business programs
Accessity is a nonprofit, CDFI lender in southern California. It provides loans from a few hundred dollars to $100,000 to small businesses, with a focus on entrepreneurs of color, women, and immigrant entrepreneurs. It also offers workshops, grant programs, free business development and other services. Learn more. https://accessity.org/
California Southern Small Business Development Corporation partners with non-profits such as the The San Diego Foundation as well as local charities in an effort to help small women, immigrant, and minority owned businesses. A major focus is on helping them get low cost or interest free loans or grants, and the Corporation will help guarantee the funds and provide other support. The Development Corporation may even take on some financial risk in order to help MWBE and/or BIPOC businesses. Read about the programs here. https://casouth.com/
Catholic Charities – Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project has pro-bono projects, free legal aid, business development services, applications to grants and more. They help immigrants and Hispanics in LA county, including those looking for help starting a bushiness or getting work visas. Find details on grants and support here. https://www.esperanza-la.org/
City Heights of San Diego Community Development Corporation helps minority and women owned business. An assistance program is offered around Economic and Leadership Development. They offer many programs to diverse businesses, including Immigrant owned companies. Continue with more information. https://www.cityheightscdc.org/
Black Cooperative Investment Fund is for Black-owned businesses in LA. They have a microloan program as well as provide other assistance to help businesses. The funds are intended to help facilitate social change in Southern CA, and learn more about BCIF here. http://www.bcifund.org/
Inland Empire Community Foundation helps women owned non-profits. There is an annual grant program from the Women’s circle. They provide funds in Riverside, San Bernardino CA and the entire “Inland” of the state. Learn about the non-profit here. https://www.iegives.org/
Los Angeles County minority, veteran, or female owned businesses that need access to capital, as well as free counseling/coaching services can turn to Ascend Los Angeles for assistance. The non-profit offers a number of resources for small business owners or anyone looking to start a company or who wants to be self-employed. Clients of the non-profit (and there is no cost) can apply for loans, make pitches to other companies or investors in the area, get free consultations and much more. Read more here. https://www.ascendla.org/
Another option in southern California, including San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles, includes NEW Economics For Women. The non-profit operates a number of assistance programs, including microloans (from Kiva), design, marketing, education, financial literacy and more. The Women’s Business Center helps females’ owners, including Spanish speakers, immigrants and others. More details are here. https://neweconomicsforwomen.org/
Los Angeles Urban League’s Urban Center for Entrepreneurship has many assistance programs for minority, immigrant and female-owned businesses. They provide support with growing sales/revenue (including internationally), applications to grant or loan programs, ongoing coaching and many other services. Read details here. https://laul.org/programs/entrepreneurship/
Long Beach Small Business Development Center Network provides many resources to Black-owned businesses, including free 12 week or so business training classes, information on raising money from grants or loans, legal support and more. They also offer a free Black Business Strategies program in partnership with Cal State Long Beach and non-profits. Learn more here. https://longbeachsbdc.org/
Long Beach City College has a local Veterans Business Outreach Center. There are other small business programs on site, including training, classes, applications to grant money and more. Get details here. https://www.lbcc.edu/veterans-services
San Diego Black owned businesses or entrepreneurs can get assistance from the Black Chamber of Commerce. Many programs are run, including the Urban Business Resource Center. There are educational resources, information on accessing capital, details on marketing and increasing revenue, applications to free government grants as they are released and so much more. A Collaborative Hub is on site. More details here. https://sdblackchamber.org/
San Diego based The Chicano Federation helps Latinos, immigrants and Hispanics in San Diego. The non-profit offers Workforce and Business Development, assistance for entrepreneurs, a Women’s Small Business Development Program, as well as Capital and Grant services. Read more here. https://www.chicanofederation.org/
San Diego Women’s Foundation has ongoing grants and support services. There may be funds for women owned non-profits or for-profit businesses, with a focus on those with a social cause such as female leadership development, mentoring, income inequality and other challenges. Find details here. https://www.sdwomensfoundation.org/
USC (University Southern California) Bridges to Business Success Program is for small companies, including MWBE as well as BIPOC. There are successful entrepreneurs from Los Angeles area that give free consultations and help with applications to grants, loans, and other fundraising opportunities. A major focus is on “micro” businesses” as well as veteran, women, and minority companies. Read more. https://www.uscbridgesprogram.com/
Ventura and Santa Barbara County businesses owned by Hispanic, Latinx, Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) can apply for the Women’s Economic Ventures Forgivable Business Loan and Coaching Program. The funds will covert to a grant if the applicant meets all criteria around couching, mentoring, and other criteria. A major focus is on assisting disadvantaged businesses, including immigrants, and all services are in Spanish too. They offer free business training, low cost or interest free loans, technical advice such as workshops on Quickbooks, forgivable loans with coaching and more. They help women of all colors, races, ages and ethnicities start or grow their business. Learn about the non-profit here. https://www.wevonline.org/
The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara (WFSB) provides annual grants to non-profits that focus on “social” causes of women, girls, children, and females. The free grant money can go to non-profits that help with STEM education, financial literacy, food programs and others focused on families and women. Learn more here. https://womensfundsb.org/
November and December 2023
LA County Rent Relief Program is for landlords, including small business owners that own apartments, homes, etc. that they lease out. Grant money will be provided to landlords, those those of color, who had challenges during the COVID pandemic. Up to $30,000 is provided to a landlord, and apply here. https://lacountyrentrelief.com/
September and October 2023
Grant money is for small restaurants in California, mostly independently owned ones. They help immigrants, minorities and women owned food places too. The programs include California Restaurant Foundation, Restaurants Care, or the Resilience Fund, which is the one open now. Learn details on and apply for Resilience Fund grants. www.restaurantscare.org/resilience.
Les Dames d’Escoffier International, also known as LDEI-SF, is providing free grant money to female owned businesses in San Francisco. There is cash awards, networking, and other assistance given to recipients of the grant money. Applicants do not need to be part of the agency. https://lesdamessf.org/FemaleEntrepreneurGrantandMentorship
San Francisco women owned businesses in the food/restaurant, hospitality or service industry can get free grants from the Female Entrepreneurship Grant and Mentorship Program. The funds are for existing businesses in the San Fran and Bat area. For information, or to apply, email the non-profit LDEI-SF Business Grant Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco businesses can get free government grant money from one of 2 programs. They include the Storefront Opportunity Grant Program as well as the Business Training Grant Program. The money will help businesses with a storefront/physical location in San Fran, with a focus on equality and helping underprivileged owners and parts of the city. Get details here. https://sf.gov/information/find-grant-your-small-business
Bakersfield small businesses can apply for government grants ranging from 5 to 40K. The money will pay for rent, salaries, inventory, and other bills that the MWBE or immigrant business has. Training is also provided by the Bakersfield College Launchpad, Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, Cal State Bakersfield’s Division of Extended Education and Global Outreach or the Small Business Development Center, and look here for grants. https://www.bakersfieldcity.us/35/Doing-Business
April and May 2023
Santa Barbara Foundation is providing $2,500 grants to small businesses and even owners that are self-employed. Applicants also need to have under 50K in annual revenue, with a focus on immigrants, MWBE and disadvantaged owners. Dozens of grants will be provided, and apply here. https://www.sbfoundation.org/covid-19-business-community-resources/microbusiness-grant-guidelines/
Excite Credit Union of Santa Clara County is providing grants and/or low-cost loans. There is a focus on minority-owned businesses and companies owned by immigrants. Another focus is on micro-businesses to help them get money for operations. Continue reading. https://excitecu.org/
Restaurants throughout the state of CA, including immigrant, veteran, and MWBE owned, can apply for free $5,000 grants from the California Restaurant Foundation. The program is funded by San Diego as well as Pacific Gas & Electric as well as Southern California Gas. the program is known as the Restaurants Care Resilience Fund, and apply here for a $5,000 grant. https://restaurantscare.org/resilience/
January 2023 and February 2023
The LA County Economic Opportunity Grant program is a government grant programs for businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. The funds are for micro-businesses with under 50K in annual revenue. A focus is on minority owned, immigrants, women and people with a disability or poor credit. All applicants need to have had a negative impact to their businesses during the COVID pandemic. Apply here. https://go.smallbizla.org/recovery
Alameda, Amador, Contra Costa, and El Dorado County microbusinesses can apply for free grant money. The applying business needs to be very small, with under $50,000 in annual revenue. The state partnered with Chabot Las Positas Community College District to disburse the money. All free grants are first come and served, with applications in Spanish as well as for businesses owned by women and people of color. Apply here. https://sites.google.com/swccd.edu/clpccd/application
El Dorado County has a grant program for non-profit organizations. Applications are accepted and screened by the Women’s Fund El Dorado. Applicants need to be focused on, among other things, social or economic inequality, programs that help women or minorities, arts and craft causes and more. The programs include Inspiration Grants, Acorn Funds, and others. Apply here. http://www.womensfundeldorado.org/
There are California grants from 2022 as well. The agencies that operated them can serve as a referral or give business owners more information. Locate 2022 MWBE Grants and Loans in California.
By Jon McNamara