The American Security Council Foundation reports that there are over 891,000 emergency medical service (EMS) personnel, 800,000 police officers, and 1.13 million firefighters in the United States. When you consider that there are over 28 million small businesses in the United States, a considerable portion of those are owned by current or past first responders. First responders are highly-trained professionals who are conditioned to operate under stressful situations, lead others and delegate responsibility when necessary; this skill set makes them ideal small business owners.
LendVer’s recent online search for lenders specializing in business loans for first responders turned up very few results. A lack of business financing options for first responders may be one of the dominant reasons why so many first responders who wish to start a business do not. The good news is that there are a number of loan programs and lenders that cater to financing first responder owned businesses.
Government Guaranteed Financing
SBA financing is a government guaranteed lending program that offers a variety of financing options for first responder owned businesses. The SBA doesn’t actually provide the financing, but it guarantees the loans that participating lenders make. One firm that has experience providing SBA loans to first responder owned businesses is South End Capital. South End Capital offers subprime SBA financing from $30,000 to $20+ million and its program carries less stringent credit score requirements (550 credit score minimum) and more flexible underwriting when compared to other SBA loan providers. Even though South End Capital’s SBA program is geared toward non-conforming business owners that don’t qualify for SBA financing from more traditional lenders, its interest rates and loan terms are very competitive. South End Capital will waive its underwriting fee for first responder owned businesses saving them up to $2,500. South End Capital will also finance business purchases, business property construction and renovation, and unique SBA loan types other lenders overlook.
Fountainhead is a direct lender specializing in the SBA 504, SBA 7(a) and < 65% LTV commercial real estate loans from $250,000 to $20+ million. Although Fountainhead’s programs are skewed toward established businesses and conforming borrowers, the company will consider startup loans and non-conforming borrowers with healthy businesses. Fountainhead is an industry leader in SBA financing and its team has funded over $23 billion to small businesses, including many owned by current and former first responders. Until December 31st, 2019, Fountainhead is offering first responders and veterans up to a $5,000 credit toward third-party reports such as an appraisal, environmental or survey. Fountainhead finances most industries and a variety of loan purposes including working capital, commercial real estate purchase or refinance, construction, debt consolidation, startup financing, and more.
Fast and Affordable Financing
For those first responder owned businesses requiring more urgent funding (SBA loans usually take 30 to 90 days), there is still a flexible and affordable option. Fundbox provides business credit lines and invoice financing to first responder owned businesses, requires no tax returns or paperwork, has no credit score minimum and rates start at an industry low 0.4% (that’s only $4 in fees per $1,000 financed). Fundbox has an easy online application, the approval review process takes as little as 3 minutes, and funds can be provided the next business day. Since Fundbox has very few business type restrictions, first responders operating in a wide array of industries may be eligible for financing through Fundbox. Financing from $1,000 to $100,000 is available for first responder owned businesses through Fundbox, and businesses only need to be in operation for 3 months to be eligible.
No matter what stage your first responder owned business is in, there are lenders and loan programs out there. Because you have a first responder owned business, you may also be eligible for decreased loan fees and other benefits. Whichever lender you choose, be sure to announce upfront that you are a first responder so you don’t miss out on any incentives a lender may offer.
If you operate a first responder owned business and are interested in SBA financing, contact our recommended lenders Fountainhead and South End Capital. If your first responder owned business is in need of fast working capital at affordable terms, contact Fundbox.