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    Small Business Loans

    Unlike lending to individual consumers, small-business lending is, by and large, considered comparatively complex in addition to being more competitive. Small business loans, offered to small business units to enable them to efficiently and successfully run their units, are also characterised by various incentives aimed at reducing their expenditure.

    Several lenders provide secured loans with tenures ranging from three to five years to small business units catering to various business requirements such as working capital requirement, purchase of state-of-art industrial equipment, expansion of business units, start-ups, upgradation of technology and establishment of new buildings among many others. Some financial institutions may offer various products such as overdraft facilities for the benefit of customers.

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    Small-business loans took a beating post the 2008 financial crisis with several major banks staying away from doling out loans. However, subsequently, the small-business loans market has seen an upswing with several financial services firms and institutions providing loans. According to market experts, small business loans for start ups have a high risk factor. Nevertheless, small business establishments can acquire loans provided certain requirements are in place such as robust equity to sustain the business operations, working capital and timely and efficient resource management among many others. The lender after reviewing cash flow projections and financial statements gauges your ability to repay loans in the long term.

    Things to do before applying for small business loans

    The borrower has to consider all costs associated with setting up a new unit such as product inventory, manufacturing equipment and raw materials. Other costs include establishing legal structure and trademarks in addition to several administrative costs such as business insurance, postage, product packaging, utilities and rent. In this day and age, one has to also consider costs associated with computer hardware and software, maintenance and internet access among others.

    Different banks have different requirements to provide small business loans with the exception of some some basic documentation.

    • Some of the financial documents requested by most banks include financial statements of the past two or three years, balance sheets, income statements in addition to the current financial statements.
    • Also, one has to maintain records of accounts payable and accounts receivable among others.
    • Companies should review their business profiles, analyze their credit requirement and work on a blueprint on how to pay back their loans.
    • The lender may ask the borrower to not only submit a profile of the company in terms of its size and products but also profiles of owners or members of the management.
    • The borrowers may enquire about the kind of industry the business unit caters to, product(s) or service(s) offered, annual sales, growth estimates, headcount in terms of the total number of employees in the business unit, the estimated volume of customers, account keeping, and delivery mechanisms among many others.
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    Eligibility criteria for small business loans

    The following is the broad eligibility criteria for availing of small business loans in India. The main requirements for acquiring small business loans are the following:

    • Credit history: Borrowers should be aware of their credit report to ensure that it’s up-to-date and accurate. Having a sound credit history is of paramount importance to ensure that lending institutions are favourable to providing finance for your business unit. Financial institutions review your credit report before reviewing and subsequently approving or rejecting your loan application.
    • Business feasibility: You have to make profit and loss projections for up to a year in some cases. One has to follow industry standards while projecting your profits and losses. If you don't follow industry standards, or you don't know what those standards are, try to make explicit any assumptions you are factoring into your projection. Borrowers have to prepare detailed pro-forma statements which has to include projections to help lenders gauge the feasibility of the project or unit in the near future.
    • Business plan: One of the key determinants which will play a key role in acquiring a small business loan is a robust business plan. The lender needs to be convinced that the business proposition is sound in terms of financial viability. The lending institution must be satisfied with the overall plan layout including capital estimates for start-ups, operations outflow in terms of employees and marketing, assets in terms of infrastructure and equipment and the capacity to pay off debts.

    Features of small business loans

    Small business loans can be either backed by assets in that some assets are offered as collaterals, based on which a loan is sanctioned typically with comparatively low interest rates. Small business loans can also be backed by cash flow in that loans are provided depending on revenue streams, business model and balance sheets and at comparatively higher rates. Several public sector banks such as the State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank and private banks namely ICICI, HDFC and Axis among others offer small business loans to gain a foothold into the rural and semi-urban markets.

    While the aforementioned banks have the incredible opportunity to tap into hitherto untouched or virgin territories and gain access to an under-banked population, they also face several challenges in that there are various risks involved such as non performing assets, inadequate capital and even low profitability among many others. According to a recent government report, 5.8% of small business units in the country receive finance by finance institutions, 2.05% get funding by non-institutional streams while 92.77% are self-funded.

    Benefits of Small Business Loans

    • Easily accessible

      Since many lenders including banks and non-banking financing companies (NBFCs) offer small business loans to their customers, it is easy for companies to receive financial aid for their business needs using this scheme. With multiple online EMI calculators available, borrowers can also plan their loans better beforehand so as to avoid loan rejections and manage their finances better. Additionally, most of the banks and NBFCs offering this kind of a loan provide online applications to allow their customers to keep a track of their loans after the amount is disbursed. Borrowers can remotely check details such as interest certificate, payment schedule, repayment history, etc. through these applications.

    • Multiple repayment options

      When an entrepreneur opts for this financing plan to fund his or her business venture, he/she has the option to repay the loan using a repayment method that is convenient to him/her. Since lenders understand the difficulties and underlying complexities involved in running a business, they might devise a personalised repayment plan before sanctioning the loan. This not only helps the borrower manage the business cash flow better, but also make timely loan repayments. Under this scheme, customers can also choose to increase/reduce the EMI amount or opt for the bullet payment method as per the financial condition of the business.

    • Hassle-free application process

      Due to minimal documentation and simple application process, this scheme is preferred by many entrepreneurs to fund their business requirements. Many banks and NBFCs provide online application method to the borrowers so that they can easily apply for this scheme without having to step out of their houses.

    • Quick fund disbursal

      When a businessman applies for a loan under this scheme looking to start a new venture or expand his or her current company, he/she can be assured that the funds will be quickly disbursed to his/her account. Owing to the fast loan application and approval process, borrowers can get access to quick funds when applying for a small business loan.

    • Customisable solutions

      Whether you are planning to start a new business or looking to expand/upgrade your current one, you will have the flexibility to opt from a wide range of customised solutions to suit your specific business need. This will help you choose a plan that suits the fund requirements of your unique business.

    • Affordable interest rates

      The interest rate of small business loans depends on various factors such as the loan tenure, market dynamics, the credentials of the applicant, the financial condition of the business, etc. Most government-backed financing schemes offered by banks and NBFCs offer loans at low interest rates to help business owners repay their debts on time, thereby, reducing the chances of a bad loan. Usually, these loans also have nominal processing fees and other one-time charges with no hidden fees.

    • Helps manage business finances better

      Since a healthy amount of cash flow is required to keep a business running, these loans are a great way to gain access to funds in order to gain a competitive edge while increasing the amount of revenue generated. The funds from this loan can be used to start a new business branch, launch a marketing campaign, or upgrade an inventory to deal with the sudden demands of a seasonal business. Then, the profit earned from these routes can be used to repay the debt and for further reinvestment. Furthermore, most of the lenders do not specify how the funds should be invested. Therefore, the business owners have the complete flexibility to use it as per their business requirements.

    • Tax relief for businesses

      Under the Income Tax Act, 1961, small business loans also offer tax benefits to the borrowers. Therefore, the interest paid on such small business loans are eligible for tax deductions.

    • No collateral required

      Many banks offer small business loans to their customers without any collateral. Therefore, availing such loans means there are less chances of businesses losing their assets in case they default during the repayment of their loans. In such cases, the business is assessed based on its expected receivables and cash flow. Before applying for this loan, it is advisable that the entrepreneur consults the lender regarding the requirement for collateral to avoid any future conundrum.

    Small business loans from banks

    Most banks offer loans to small businesses if they get clear profit estimates, failing which, it may prove to be an uphill task for investors to acquire a loan. Several banks in India offer business loans of various types and categories for the benefit of customers. For instance, IDBI Bank provides finance to MSMEs including a wide array of products and services such as listed below.

    • Vendor Finance: Offers working capital and bills discounting facility.
    • Collateral Free Loans: Credit for up to Rs. 1 crore sans collaterals.
    • Sulabh Vyapar Loan: Loans to traders at attractive rates.
    • Dealer Finance: To provide Liquidity to the distribution chain partners.
    • Medical practitioners: Finance to doctors for establishing clinic or buying equipments.
    • Laghu Udhyami Credit Cards: Finance to small retail traders, artisans and MSE units.
    • Professionals & Self-employed: Scheme for professionals and self-employed.
    • Credit card receivables: Offering finance against payments through credit/debit cards.
    • Loan against property: Finance against property for business needs.
    • SME Smart Line of Credit: Finance via pre-approved credit limits.
    • Small Road & Water Transport Operators: Helps transport operators get vehicles.

    Some other examples of banks offering finance to small business units include ICICI Bank which offers ‘office equipment loans' (Rs. 30,000) for a period of 12 to 36 months on the basis of collateral provided. GE Money India provides personal loans to small business units at at 16 per cent. Also, Fullerton India offers vyapaar scheme for the self-employed and small business units with a turnover of less than a Rs. 2.5 crore. Citibank provides loans up to Rs. 25 lakh sans collaterals in addition to unsecured overdraft for around Rs. 2 crores. Intriguingly, interest is charged only on the loan amount used by the borrower. Oriental Bank of Commerce provides loans for up to Rs. 25 lakh sans collaterals depending on the proven track record of the borrower.

    Small business loans in India

    Banks in India are increasingly tweaking their lending models to make them flexible to provide more loans to small business units. Bankers are also considering ‘credit surrogates' to increase lending to small business units.

    Intriguingly, several banks in the country have 'pre-approved loans' to facilitate greater ease of transactions. What’s more, loans are also being provided against stocks and mutual funds among many other assets. Several banks are offering products to suit specific requirements of a profession. For example, ICICI and HDFC provide loans to transporters. Likewise, several banks have created products to offer loans for pharmaceuticals, gems, construction and tourism among others. Several leading banks are acknowledging that there is a huge market to be tapped in the unorganised sector in tier-II cities, towns and rural areas such as shopkeepers, traders and commission agents (who typically look for EMI-based personal loans sans collaterals), to name a few.

    According to conservative estimates, small business units in the country offer employment to over 106 million. Also, a small percentage of over 57 million small business units across India are supported by institutional finance, leaving the rest to fall prey to private lenders. The government, therefore, has mooted several measures to come to the rescue of small business units. The central government set up the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council to boost the manufacturing sector. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also plans to issue some guidelines to banks to offer more small business loans including reducing interest rates. Banks have been asked to register a 20 per cent year-on-year growth in terms of offering credit to small enterprises.

    What’s more, the current central government has instituted a separate ministry for SMEs (MSME). The government also announced India Opportunity Fund running over 800 million USD (via SIDBI) to help small business units. The National Small Industries Corporation Limited (NSIC) facilitates distribution of products and raise awareness of technology in small units. It is common knowledge that the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) provides credit facilities to cottage industries. Also, the World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises (WASME) India chapter supports small business units.

    Types of small business loans in India

    The MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Ltd) Yojana launched this year offers loans for up to Rs. 10 lakh at low interest rates. MUDRA will cater to over 5 crore self-employed persons. The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, which currently has around Rs. 20,000 crore at its disposal, would be a subsidiary of SIDBI.

    Some of the different kinds of business loans offered in India are the following:

    • Government: As mentioned above, government has mooted special schemes to boost the capacity of small business units across the country. Loans are provided to the elderly, minorities, factory equipment or office expenditures among many others.
    • Micro loans: The maximum repayment term is six years. Micro loans are offered provided there is a robust business plan and a profitable venture.
    • Business organizations: Large business conglomerates can offer finance assistance to small business units provided the latter show potential for growth and are lucrative in terms turnover to repay the loan amount. Some examples include franchise loans and export financing. Documents required include a sound business plan, financial status report, credit ratings and cash flow projections among many others.
    • Personal loans: Several banks offer personal loans anywhere from Rs. 10 to 25 lakh which are typically unsecured at 18 to 24%. The loans are repaid through instalments.
    • Professional loans: These are unsecured loans provided to self-employed professionals such as chartered accountants, company secretary, doctors and so forth. It does not encompass manufacturing and processing units. The loan amount varies from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 25 lakh depending on the financial status of the applicant, loan tenure and repayment capacity at a rate of interest which depends on the prime lending rate.
    • Project Finance: Provided for new long-term infrastructure or industrial projects with flexible repayment terms on the basis of the project assessment report.
    • Equipment Finance: Provided to buy new equipment or lease equipment for business units.
    • Working Capital Loans: Provided for daily business needs for smooth functioning of the units.
    • Bill discounting: Provided to ensure that your unit discounts bills before the maturity date.
    • Lease rental: Provides term loan against lease contracts to facilitate business requirements.
    • Financial advisory: Provided for assistance by financial experts.
    • Insurance: Provides finance for insurance solutions for better safety.
    • Trade loans: Provided to traders for starting a new business enterprise or expand the current business unit. The loan is repaid through Equated Monthly Installments or EMIs. The rate of interest is based on the prime lending rate (fixed and fluctuating). Some banks ask customers to submit collaterals such as land. National Savings Certificates, life insurance policies in addition to shares and bonds among others are also accepted against which loans could be provided.

    Small Business Loans Reviews

    • RBL Bank Personal Loan
      "excellent"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      My personal loan experience is very good with RBL bank and even they have provided sufficient loan amount to me . Rate of interest is 18% which is up to the mark and tenure period is 3 years . Customer service is good and documents were collected on time . I use to pay EMI 1044 and processing fee is 3500 . There is no preclosere option .
      Was this review helpful? 0
      , hyderabad
      Reviewed on Aug 19, 2018
    • ICICI Bank Personal Loan
      "Good service"
      0.5 4.0/5 "Great!"
      I have taken personal loan with ICICI BANK . I use to pay EMI 9000 and tenure period is 3years . I am happy with customer services because i can connect them easily . There is no charge for processing fee, rate of interest is 14.2% and it is too high in the market . My loan amount is up to the mark .
      Was this review helpful? 0
      , chennai
      Reviewed on Aug 19, 2018
    • HSBC Bank Personal Loan
      "AVERAGE CARD"
      0.5 3.0/5 "Satisfactory"
      Documentation from the bank end was late after that only i got the card, they can also improve the customer service in terms on responsiveness, because responsiveness is little delayed from them, almost the processing time was around 2 weeks they have taken which is little longer period.
      Was this review helpful? 0
      , chennai
      Reviewed on Aug 18, 2018
    • HDFC Bank Personal Loan
      "Excellent"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      My personal loan was taken with HDFC Bank 11 months back.The loan amount was 3 lakhs and the interest rate was satisfactory . The EMI period was 5 years . The customer service was really good and there was no delay at all in the process . They have provided door step service for collecting documents.
      Was this review helpful? 0
      , jaipur
      Reviewed on Aug 18, 2018
    • Fullerton Personal Loan
      "Overall good"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      I have taken my personal loan with Fullerton and the experience is fine. The customer services and response is good and there are no hassles to get the loan. They done a good job. Though the interest rate and charges is on the higher side, I am pretty happy with the service.
      Was this review helpful? 0
      , bangalore
      Reviewed on Aug 18, 2018
    • Kotak Personal Loan
      "More than satisfactory"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      Kotak Mahindra Bank has been really beneficial and they provided me with a personal loan. The rate of interest and processing charges is normal and I had no issues to get the loan through. The customer services and response is good and overall no issues.
      Was this review helpful? 0
      , ghaziabad
      Reviewed on Aug 18, 2018
    • ICICI Bank Personal Loan
      "Excellent"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      I have taken my personal loan with ICICI bank 8 months back. The loan amount was 98,000a nd the interest rate was satisfactory . The tenure period was 24 months . The customer service was very good and there was no delay at all. The loan was approved on time infact they follow paperless approval process.
      Was this review helpful? 0
      , chennai
      Reviewed on Aug 18, 2018
    • Bank Bazaar Personal Loan
      "Best Service"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      Bankbazaar provides best services when compared to others in the market. I am using the services of bankbazaar from more than 1 year. The website of bankbazaar is easy to use and is user friendly. Customer service was good and they followed up on time.
      Was this review helpful? 3
      , bangalore
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • HDFC Bank Personal Loan
      "Good service"
      0.5 4.5/5 "Excellent!"
      It was a good experience with HDFC bank for personal loan, the loan amount was for Rs 4 lakhs with nominal interest rate in the market. The process was smooth and it took 10 days to receive the loan amount. Customer service was good and they followed up on time. The tenure period for this loan is 2 years.
      Was this review helpful? 3
      , bangalore
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Bank Bazaar Personal Loan
      "Good service"
      0.5 4.0/5 "Great!"
      I know bankbazaar.com from last 2 years but i have used bankbazaar for the first time. The services provided by bankbazaar is good when compared to others. Customer service was good with bankbazaar and their response was on time. The website of bankbazaar is easy to use and is user friendly.
      Was this review helpful? 2
      , mumbai
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Standard Chartered Bank Personal Loan
      "Good service"
      0.5 3.5/5 "Pretty good"
      It was an average experience with Standard Chartered Bank for personal loan, the process was quite long and it took 20-25 days to complete. Documents were collected on time and the customer service was good. The loan amount was for Rs 6 lakhs for 5 years with high interest rate.
      Was this review helpful? 2
      , mumbai
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Bank Bazaar Personal Loan
      "Best Service"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      Bankbazaar provides best services when compared to others in the market. I am using the services of bankbazaar from last 1 year. Customer service was very good and they responded on time. The website of bankbazaar is easy to use and is user friendly.
      Was this review helpful? 2
      , chennai
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Tata capital Personal Loan
      "Best Service"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      I have my personal loan application approved with TATA CAPITAL and the experience was good, the loan amount was for Rs 2 lakhs with the tenure period of 3 years and the rate of interest is nominal when compared to other banks. Customer service was good and they responded on time.
      Was this review helpful? 4
      , chennai
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Bank Bazaar Personal Loan
      "Best Service"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      I know bankbazaar.com from last 3-4years, the services provided by bankbazaar is good when compared to others. Customer service was good with bankbazaar and they responded on time. Mobile application of bankbazaar is easy to access and is user friendly.
      Was this review helpful? 1
      , hyderabad
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • HDFC Bank Personal Loan
      "Best Service"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      I have my personal loan application approved with HDFC bank and the experience was good, the loan amount was for Rs 3 lakhs with the tenure period of 4 years and the rate of interest is nominal when compared to other banks. Customer service was good and they responded on time.
      Was this review helpful? 2
      , hyderabad
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Bank Bazaar Personal Loan
      "Best Service"
      0.5 5.0/5 "Blown Away!"
      I am using the services of paytm from last 1 year, the services provided by bankbazaar is good when compared to others. Customer service was good with bankbazaar and their response was on time. I check my credit score on the website of bankbazaar.
      Was this review helpful? 1
      , hyderabad
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • ICICI Bank Personal Loan
      "Good service"
      0.5 4.0/5 "Great!"
      My experience was very good with ICICI bank for personal loan,, the process took more than 15 days to complete. The loan amount was for Rs 1 lac with nominal interest rate. Customer service was good and they followed up on time. The tenure period for this loan is 3 years.
      Was this review helpful? 2
      , hyderabad
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Bank Bazaar Personal Loan
      "Good service"
      0.5 3.5/5 "Pretty good"
      It was a good experience with bankbazaar so far, they provide good services when compared to others in the market. Customer service was good with bankbazaar and they responded on time. The website of bankbazaar is easy to navigate and is user friendly.
      Was this review helpful? 1
      , kolkata
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Kotak Personal Loan
      "Good service"
      0.5 3.5/5 "Pretty good"
      It was a good experience with Kotak Mahindra bank for personal loan, the loan amount was for Rs 3 lakhs with nominal interest rate in the market. The process was quite long and it took 15 days to receive the loan amount. Customer service was good and they followed up on time.
      Was this review helpful? 2
      , kolkata
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
    • Axis Bank Personal Loan
      "Good service"
      0.5 4.0/5 "Great!"
      I have taken a personal loan with AXIS bank and my loan experience was good, the loan amount was for Rs 4 lakhs with nominal interest rate when compared to other banks. The tenure period for this loan is 4 years and there are no preclosure charges.
      Was this review helpful? 2
      , bangalore
      Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018
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