Business Financing

For business owners with no or poor credit, traditional bank loans may be out of reach. In these cases, your search for a business loan may include looking at alternative lenders and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). Small business grants may also be worth pursuing – especially since you do not have to repay the grant money you receive. Each of these options is very different, so it pays to do your homework to see if one is right for you. 

What is a CDFI?

For borrowers who may have low to medium credit scores and are looking to find competitive lending rates, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) can be a good fit. CDFIs are mission-driven financial institutions that have been certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. They include credit unions, banks, non-profit loan funds and venture capital funds that operate to serve low-income communities. Check out a full list of certified CDFIs at

Business funding from grants

Often overlooked, grants can be a source of funding for some niche industry start-ups that provide a specialized product or service, or for businesses that are owned by people a grant-giving institution is looking to support. For example, business grants might be available for minority-owned or women-owned businesses or for a business with a mission that aligns with the grant-giving institution.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter Hey, Charleston! for the latest grant and revolving loan fund opportunities. 

Local lending institutions:

Read the descriptions below to learn more about the lending options and small business services that lenders have to offer.

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The CLIMB Fund is a not-for-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) serving the entire State of South Carolina. We offer several different small business loans and pre and post loan consulting. CLIMB Fund has more than 40 years of history lending to entrepreneurs who have been turned away by for-profit banks. There are numerous iconic local businesses we’ve helped start and grow. CLIMB Fund does not have a maximum or minimum loan size but loan amounts tend to be between $10,000 - $250,000 with an average of $75,000. Interest rates do not exceed 12%.

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CommunityWorks is a CDFI. They offer Micro, Small Business and Affordable Housing/Community loans. Their Micro loans are from $900 to up to $50,000; Small Business Loans are up to $250,000. Affordable Housing loans can be up to $1.0M, while Community Loans are up to $250,000. Offer financial coaching.

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South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF) provides loans to finance acquisition, predevelopment, infrastructure, construction, renovation, leasehold improvements, machinery and equipment, working capital, and permanent financing business costs. Eligible projects include retail stores and service businesses, wholesalers, and small manufacturers. Minimum Loan: $75,000 - Maximum: $3million. Free technical assistance.

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Synovous is a full service bank providing: SBA loans – minimum $350k. 7a loan program – lines of credit and loans. 504 loan program - real estate and equipment loans only. Conventional loans – minimum $10k lines of credit & loans. 

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Catawba Regional Development Corporation (CRDC) SBA504 – Loan amounts from $50,000 -$5,500,000; fixed interest rate, 10/20/25 year terms, can be used for land, building, building expansion, machinery, equipment, furniture & fixtures. Start-ups difficult, but are eligible for financing. IRP – Loan amounts from $50,000 - $250,000; fixed interest rate; flexible terms; can be used for land, building, building expansion, machinery, equipment, furniture & fixtures. 

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Provident Business Financial Services is a Certified Development Company (CDC), nonprofit corporation, and has offices in Charleston and Columbia and provides SBA 504 loan throughout South Carolina.  Provident is certified and regulated by the U.S. Small Business Administration and is South Carolina’s largest provider of SBA 504 commercial real estate loans in both loan volume and dollars lent. A 504 loan can be used for a range of assets that promote business growth and job creation. These include the purchase, construction, or improvement of existing buildings or land; new or existing facilities; long-term machinery and equipment; and other fixed assets. 

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Optus Bank offers a wide variety of lending and credit products that will help open doors for you and your business and other needs. From credit lines, to small business loans, they are here to ensure that your needs are met with their financing solutions. Products include small business loans, lines of credit, loans for real estate, equipment, and SBA lending programs. 


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Beacon Community Bank is a Charleston based community bank and we offer both owner occupied and investment real estate loans, loans for machinery and equipment, and revolving lines of credit.  

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TD Bank offers all types of small business loans which include Commercial Real Estate Mortgages ($25,000 - $1,000,000), Lines of Credit ($10,000 - $500,000), Term Loans ($10,000 - $1,000,000), Express Leases ($5,000 - $1,000,000), Letters of Credit ($1,000 - $500,000), Health Care Term Loans/Lines of Credit & SBA Loans (7A, 504, Express, USDA) up to $350,000. TD also offers various types of business credit cards, overdraft protection, merchant services, treasury & payroll options. 

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Grow Financial Federal Credit Union is a full service credit union providing commercial lending services (commercial real estate loans, equipment loans and business lines of credit) up to $5 million dollars.  Additionally, we offer business credit cards, merchant services like payment processing solutions, payroll management services and insurance to protect your business.   

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United Bank is a generalist and there is very little segmentation. Credit facility types range from small equipment loans or operating lines of credit to $50MM type hotel or multifamily construction loans. Merchant services partner with Heartland. Cash management: in house cash management officer. Business credit cards: United provides cards that are underwritten by the Bank and are not third party cards. 

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Pinnacle Bank is a full service bank offering small business lending, commercial lending, SBA lending, and credit cards. We also offer commercial and small business checking, savings, and money market accounts as well as consumer checking, savings, money market, and certificates of deposit accounts.  Pinnacle offers residential mortgages and home equity lines of credit as well as consumer car loans, boat loans, and consumer lines of credit.  Pinnacle Bank also provides Trust services, financial planning, and retirement services.  

Harvest Small Business Finance Review: SBA 7(a) Loans for Commercial Real  Estate - NerdWallet

Harvest Small Business Finance, LLC is a top 10 national non-bank PLP SBA real estate only lender with a conventional product when SBA eligibility cannot be met. We’re located in California where we were founded and that is where our loan operations center is - with about 45 lenders nationwide. We lend when banks cannot, and focus on loans that either are conventional denials but also bank SBA department denials. We also lend on speed - that is a market advantage we have being a non-bank. 

Business Planning & Education Resources

United States Small Business Administration

United States Small Business Administration provides guidance on starting and managing a business, financing and Federal contracting opportunities, and training programs.

South Carolina Community Loan Fund

South Carolina Association for Economic Development (SCACED) is a coalition that supports the development of healthy and economically sustainable communities throughout South Carolina. The MicroBusiness Program provides capital to microentrepreneurs in underserved areas through a competitive grant program and delivers development services to help establish or expand microbusinesses.


Chamber of Commerce is the go-to digital resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs, providing the guidance they need to start and run successful businesses. They research products, write reviews, and create in-depth guides and how-tos on topics like ideation, marketing, financing, accounting, and human resources. 

Important Disclaimer

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