The Church Avenue Merchants Block Association is a non-profit agency based in New York City that provides programs in economic development, education, housing and family support. The association was founded in 1977 and now offers over 150 integrated services from more than 60 locations in New York City. In 2000, CAMBA Economic Development Corporation started providing small business loans to startups and existing small business in Brooklyn. Since, it has provided startup and expansion capital to over 100 entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs looking for a business loan must attend one of CAMBA's Small Business Service workshops, which provide training in business planning, finance and business technology. Entrepreneurs can use CAMBA loans for a wide variety of purposes, such as working capital, inventory, renovations, furniture fixtures or equipment.
The interest rate for CAMBA's small business loans is set at the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate plus 4 percent. As of January 2015, the WSJ prime rate was 3.25, which would put the total interest rate at 7.25 percent.
CAMBA has increased its maximum loan amount to $35,000. Previously the maximum amount was $15,000. The maximum loan term is 36 months.
Borrowers must attend a financing workshop and complete a loan application form. There is a $25 loan application fee and a $100 loan closing fee, if the loan is approved. Applications usually take two to four weeks to process. The owner must be at least 21 years old, be a citizen or permanent resident, and have no outstanding personal or business tax liabilities. Although credit history will be considered, CAMBA focuses more on the viability of a business than the credit history of the business or its owner.
As a non-profit and community-based lender, CAMBA's credit requirements are much less stringent and its terms are much more favorable and flexible than those offered by commercial lenders. The program also serves companies with less than a year in operation and pre-startups, as long as they are legally registered businesses.
CAMBA also offers free one-on-one business counseling, as well as training in subjects such as finance, business plan development, social media business implementation and credit repair. The only catch is that it is only available to businesses based in Brooklyn, New York.
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