The US Government offers small business loans in a number of different categories, information on which can be found at US SBA Loan Program. SBA provides loans to businesses — not individuals — so the requirements of eligibility are based on aspects of the business, not the owners. As such, the key factors of eligibility are based on what the business does to receive its income, the character of its ownership and where the business operates.
SBA generally does not specify what businesses are eligible. Rather, the agency outlines what businesses are not eligible. However, there are some universally applicable requirements. To be eligible for assistance, businesses must:
- Operate for profit
- Be small, as defined by SBA
- Be engaged in, or propose to do business in, the United States or its possessions
- Have reasonable invested equity
- Use alternative financial resources, including personal assets, before seeking financial assistance
- Be able to demonstrate a need for the loan proceeds
- Use the funds for a sound business purpose
- Not be delinquent on any existing debt obligations to the U.S. government
The loan program most used for small businesses such as restaurants is called the SBA 7(a) Loan Program.