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Fulfilling the dream of business ownership

Microenterprise Loan Program

The N.C. Microenterprise Loan Program works with individuals who have sound ideas for starting or expanding a small business but may not qualify for bank loans. The program has three components:

  • Standard loans, which are available in amounts up to $25,000.
  • Express loans, which are capped at $5,000. Loan decisions can be made within five business days.

All loans are offered in combination with business planning and technical assistance. We give special emphasis to serving rural, low-income, female and minority borrowers.

To apply, complete and submit a pre-application. The same application is used for all microenterprise loans. We'll walk you through the process from there.

See our list of FAQs.


Pre-application (PDF)

Application (PDF) (Word) You must complete the pre-application prior to this step.

Cash flow projection (Excel) This must be submitted with the application.

Co-applicant form (PDF) (Word)


The Rural Center launched the Microenterprise Loan Program in 1989 to encourage self-employment and small business growth. It increases opportunities for jobs and wealth creation, both often in short supply in rural communities, and fills a gap in the types of business financing available in rural areas. What began as an experiment became a regular program of the center in 1992.

The Microenterprise Loan Program provides loans of up to $25,000 for people who have sound ideas for starting or expanding a small business but may not qualify for bank loans. These individuals may include women, members of minority groups, people with low incomes and limited assets, and people who live in rural areas. It couples these loans with technical assistance, which is offered in partnership with small business centers at area community colleges and the Small Business Technology Development Center of the UNC System.

Measuring success

  • Loans made, 1989 - June 2012: 1,498
  • Total value of loans: $8.5 million
  • Number of jobs created: 3,096
  • Average loan size: $5,571
  • Recipient: 1996 Presidential Award for Excellence in Microenterprise Development
  • Recipient: 1998 U.S. Small Business Administration's award for excellence in microenterprise lending


Amanda Sorrells, Director of Entrepreneurship

N.C. Microenterprise Loan Program
N.C. Rural Economic Development Center
4021 Carya Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610

Phone: 919-250-4314
Fax: 919-250-4325
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