Crowdfunding, a term which originated less than 15 years ago, has become a central part of the financial landscape, from film students on Kickstarter funding their thesis projects to widely shared GoFundMe campaigns for unexpected medical expenses. Crowdfunding has also been gaining traction among small businesses, and its popularity has accelerated during the pandemic. Multiple private companies have created or enhanced crowdfunding programs to help small businesses gain access to capital during the economic shutdown and resulting recession. In most cases, the crowdfunding system is a win-win situation—businesses get the capital they need to survive the downturn, and investors can turn a profit while supporting their communities. Here are a few verified sources that make crowdfunding, as a business or an investor, easy and reliable during the pandemic.
Honeycomb Crowdfunded Small Business Relief Loan
Honeycomb will work with the small business owner directly to put together an application for a loan of $10,000-$75,000. Together with Honeycomb, businesses will crowdfund the amount of the loan. They offer 45 days payment free, then 6 months interest-only payments. For those who want to pay it forward, individuals can invest in another small business for just $100.
Honeycomb Loyalty Bonds Program
Through this program, businesses can use their community and Honeycomb’s investors to sell “loyalty bonds”, which act as discounted gift cards. For example, a $100 bond bought through the program equates to $130 in gift cards. The purchaser of the bond receives four installments of gift cards. That’s four future visits to the business! The crowdfunding minimum is just $1000. Again, anyone can participate by purchasing a gift card from a local shop or restaurant.
Wefunder offers emergency loans to small businesses with a customized amount (up to $1,000,000) and customized payment plan. To raise the money, the business promotes their campaign to their community, and WeFunder will promote the campaign to its network of nearly 600,000 investors. Payments are deferred for a year, and when payments begin, the amount will be based on the business’s revenue, which is considered much safer for small businesses. Individuals can sign up to be a WeFunder investor through their website. Investors have the freedom to choose the businesses they are the most excited about.
Kiva provides micro-loans to businesses via crowdfunding in order to help them gain access to larger, more traditional lenders. Their loans have no interest, require no collateral, and are available to individuals with little or no credit history. They are especially focused on providing capital to minority and women-owned businesses. In response to the pandemic, Kiva is offering 0% interest loans of up to $15,000 for small businesses. The loan matures in 1 to 3 years, including a 6-month grace period. For those who want to give back, individuals can lend as little as $25 to the business of their choice.
Mainvest’s motto is “Invest in Main Street, not Wall Street.” Once accepted into the crowdfunding program, Mainvest will provide the business with $2000 immediately. Then set will set up the business to crowdfund $10,000-$100,000 on their platform. Repayment is tied to revenue, so if a business has no revenue in a quarter, they won’t owe any money that quarter. Only brick-and-mortar businesses are eligible for Mainvest loans. Investors can participate with a minimum of $100.
Once again, all of these platforms allow individuals to invest in small businesses in their communities. Participating in crowdfunding can be an easy way to support businesses you love with a great chance to turn a profit.
Please see the crowdfunding platforms’ websites for the most up to date information regarding qualifications for loans and instructions for investors.