- Nonprofit microlender
- Startup loans
- Working capital loans
- Debt refinancing
- Low interest rates
- Low qualification requirements
- Fast time to funding
- Fantastic customer service
On the company’s About Us page, Accion uses a slogan that’s we’ve all seen many times: “We’re more than just lenders. We’re lending partners.” The message is: we’re not here to sell you a product, we’re here to forge a relationship. Normally that gimmick has been used so much that it’s become effectively meaningless. It’s just something advertisers say to make you feel like you’re not buying into an extravagantly large, faceless corporation.
But this time, I believe the slogan.
Accion is a nonprofit company that began as a grassroots organization in 1961. For the majority of its life, Accion has offered microloans and financial education to low-income communities and currently has a presence in more than 30 countries around the world.
In 1991, the organization started offering loans in the United States. Currently, there are a number of member branches across the nation. This review only covers the US branches of Accion’s service.
Due to the structure of Accion’s organization, loan offerings vary depending on where your business is located. The only constant is that they’ll loan to businesses which often have difficulty finding financing elsewhere.
Despite Accion’s nonprofit status, don’t think they’re just handing out free money. The application process tends to be very thorough, and you have to sign a personal guarantee or put up collateral before getting funding. And with interest rates that normally range from 8% – 22%, Accion loans are going to be a bit more expensive than some people might like.
Nonetheless, Accion’s terms and fees are just about as good as you can get outside a bank or SBA loan. Combine all that with a commitment to not only lend money, but provide financial education and connect merchants with the help they need, and it’s difficult to not like Accion. They really are “lending partners.”
Interested in learning more? Read on for the details!
Accion offers installment loans for many different purposes:
- Startup loans
- Business loans
- SBA community advantage loans
- Daycare business loans
- Food and beverage industry loans
- Commercial real estate loans
- Nonprofit loans
- Holiday loans
- Lines of credit
- Loans to build credit
Loan offerings vary by state; head over to this page to investigate the loans available in your area.
Borrower qualifications vary by state. Here are the most common requirements, but I’d recommend checking out the qualifications in your particular state before getting too involved in the Accion loan process.
|Time in business:||N/A|
|Credit score:||575 (500 in some places)|
|Revenue:||Must have sufficient cash flow to repay the loan|
Additionally, Accion requires that:
- You aren’t more than 30 days late on any bills
- You have not made late rent or mortgage payments in the last 12 months
- You have not declared bankruptcy in the last 12 months
- You have not gone through foreclosure in the last 24 months
- You will not have any mortgage rate adjustments due during the loan term
If you have been in business for fewer than six months, you must also meet these requirements:
- Your business is home- or incubator-based
- You have less than $500 in past-due debt
You also must not be in any of Accion’s restricted industries, which can be found on the website. Again, these requirements vary depending upon state, so check out the qualifications in your state before getting too excited!
Terms and Fees
Available loans also vary depending upon your state. Anybody interested in getting a loan from Accion should head over to this page to see what options are available. Here are the most common terms and fees associated with Accion’s loans but, again, be aware that this might not be true in every case.
|Borrowing amount:||$500 – $50K|
|Term length:||6 – 60 months|
|Interest rate:||8% – 22%|
|Closing fee:||3% – 5%|
|APR:||Approx. 9.5% – 33%|
Specific collateral in some situations
Accion loans are repaid on a monthly basis. Should you choose to repay early, this lender never charges a prepayment penalty.
To begin the process, you’ll fill out an application on the website. You’ll need to answer some questions about your business, place of residence, education, personal income, and liabilities.
After you’ve completed the application, you’ll get a phone call from somebody at Accion who will let you know if you qualify for a loan. If so, you’ll be put in touch with a “lending team member,” who will help you understand the process and teach you how to assemble a loan application. For the most part, your loan application will involve assembling proof of the information that you submitted in the questionnaire.
It may take Accion a while to approve or deny your loan, because they have to take the time to verify all your information. In general, time from application to funding takes three to four weeks.
Sales and Advertising Transparency
Accion’s website doesn’t feel like it’s “advertising” anything. You won’t see any gimmicks like “interest rates as low as…” or “funding in as fast as x hours!”
Instead, Accion’s website feels like it wants to educate you. They provide all the information necessary to help you know if you qualify for a loan and in-depth information about the loan options on offer. The website also has an extensive resource center and information about upcoming events.
Customer Service and Technical Support
Accion is available by phone.
While I have read a couple complaints that merchants couldn’t get in touch with their representative, the majority of borrowers couldn’t be happier with the customer service.
Like the website, Accion’s customer service is not trying to sell you anything or close a deal; the representatives genuinely want to help you out. They’ll answer your questions and make sure you understand the process. If you get denied, they’ll tell you how you can strengthen your application to try again. And if they can’t help you, they’ll try to put you in touch with people who can.
This is a level of customer service uncommon in the lending industry (or in most industries, for that matter).
Negative Reviews and Complaints
There are very few complaints about Accion to be found on the web. However, here is what the customers didn’t like about the service:
- Extensive verification process: In order to approve your application, Accion requires a lot of information about your personal life. This includes information about your place of residence, education, personal income (if you’re a startup) and liabilities. They will take the time to verify the information that you provide. Some people feel this is an invasion of privacy.
- Time to funding: The application process generally takes a month, which is a long period of time if you’re used to other online lenders, which sometimes only take a few days.
- Loan differences by state: Some loans, like the line of credit (a type of loan that I’m particularly fond of), are only available in four states. It can be frustrating to know that the loan you want is offered, but you can’t get it based on where you live.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
Praise for Accion abounds.
Of course, you can’t get very far without people talking about the customer service. Most merchants say they’ll do everything they can to help, from helping you get capital, to referring you to other services that can help.
Merchants also praise the:
- Commitment to educating merchants
- Transparency of their service
- Willingness to lend to people that are ineligible for a bank loan
Accion has a fantastic reputation, which I am happy to say they live up to 100%. Very few lenders are willing to loan to startups, migrants, minorities, and people with low credit scores. Accion is willing to lend to all of those people, and they do it while offering impeccable customer service, surprisingly low fees, and financial education.
If you’re eligible, Accion is a fantastic source of financing, whether you’re looking for funding for your startup, to refinance debt, to build your credit score, or simply get a microloan for your business.