As we near the end of 2022, many San Antonio small businesses continue recovery efforts following the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are still struggling to return to pre-pandemic performance levels. The San Antonio Zero Percent Interest Loan Program offers impacted local small businesses an opportunity to spur growth. Eligible businesses may qualify for a 0% interest small business loan.
Through a partnership between the City of San Antonio (COSA) and LiftFund, the program offers funding to businesses located within, or relocating to, San Antonio city limits. All loans issued through the program have 0% interest rates and unique flexibility surrounding how funds may be used—a stark contrast to the increasing interest rates and spending restrictions of typical bank loans. San Antonio small businesses can use the loans for a variety of business needs, including payroll, equipment and machinery, inventory, and more.
Since the first iteration in 2016, the program has increased the max loan amount offered to recipients, now offering loans up to $100,000 at 0% interest—double what was offered in the previous program cycle.
Selena S. Guizpot, owner of local wine shop, Casa Guipzot, spoke about her experience with the program at a roundtable for small business owners recently held by LiftFund and Mayor Nirenberg.
“Without these funds, without me having a payment that I could afford, there would have been no way,” says Selena. Reflecting on the program, Mrs. Guipzot says the funding impact went beyond her own business, benefitting the community as well—she adds, “Keeping those dollars circulating in the Westside, keeping those dollars circulating in our community, it was instrumental. There would have been no way I could have started my business.”
Designed to support business recovery and growth, the program prioritizes businesses that are looking to hire additional staff within the next 12 months. In addition, priority will be given to businesses that have not received the 0% interest loan in the past two years.
Business owners, especially women and minority business owners, are encouraged to apply while funding is available.
Key figures in developing and strengthening the local economy, COSA, LiftFund, and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce spent several months coordinating to secure $500,000 in funding from the city’s 2023 fiscal year budget—a quarter of a million dollar increase in funding since the last program cycle.
For partner and program administrator, LiftFund, there is particular focus on accessibility for those businesses who may experience difficulties securing capital and building credit through other, traditional lending mechanisms.
“Programs providing microloans, especially with an interest buy-down component, are particularly impactful. Not only will businesses have access to affordable funding at 0% interest, but because these are loans, payments will boost their credit. They’ll be in a better position when applying for future funding,” says Janie Barrera, LiftFund Founder.
While the San Antonio Zero Percent Loan Program provides financial support for the immediate needs of local businesses, the unique program also creates credit-building opportunities for some business owners who might otherwise face difficulties accessing this type of funding.
Program details and an application can be found at here on the LiftFund website.
Valeria is the Content Writer & Designer at Liftfund, a nonprofit small business champion.