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Camino Financial
By: camino-financial
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California Relief Programs for Small Businesses

We’ve passed the one-year mark since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the US. The virus has changed life as we knew it and affected the economy of all Americans, but especially of small businesses.

While there are many country-wide stimulus programs, i.e., the Second Round of the Stimulus Package (which includes the PPP), not all small businesses could get the SBA loans or simply weren’t enough to cover all expenses caused by the coronavirus. 

Fortunately, there are many other loans, grants, and programs designed to help small businesses. Many of them are only for certain industries, other for specific states, but there are many you can access.

In this article, we will review 2 great programs designed for small businesses in California. We’ll go through the basics of each program, the requirements, and how to apply.

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California Rebuilding Fund (Loan)

This economic relief program was designed to help Californian small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The most special part of this fund is that it was designed to help economically disadvantaged businesses or that are located in historically under-banked areas.

The basics

You can get a loan with 36 to 60 monthly payments, an Annualized Interest Rate of 4.25%, and no prepayment fees.

You can receive:

  • Up to $100,000 
  • 100% of the average monthly revenues of the last 3 months before the pandemic

Fees: They depend on the lender but cannot be more than $250.

Collateral: Blanket first or second lien is required on business assets. If you own more than 20%, you might need to present a personal guarantee.

Credit score: Each lender might have a min credit score.

NOTE: The first 12 payments are interest-only. The rest will be a fully amortizing schedule of principal and interest.

Can I apply?

To be eligible, you need to be a small business (currently operating since or before June 30, 2019) and be located in California (or at least the main office or headquarters). Your operations must also have been economically affected by COVID-19 (there needs to be a reduction in your revenue since January 2020).

Besides, you need to have:

  • 50 full-time employees or fewer (before March 2020)
  • Gross revenue of less than $2.5 million in 2019
  • Returned to or sustained at least 30% of pre-COVID revenues in 2020, for at least one-month (compared to the same or a similar period in 2019)
  • A positive net income in 2019

Can I apply if I have an ITIN?

It looks like it (there are no explicit restrictions in the eligibility criteria that mention needing an SSN).

How to apply

Pre-applications opened on November 20. 

California Rebuilding Fund Pre-application

You’ll need to fill in some basic information on the pre-application, like how much money you need, how you intend to use it, your address, your profits, or if you’re part of a minority, amongst others.

After completing the application, you’ll be paired with a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI); they will contact you so you can present the loan application process.

NOTE: You can also apply directly with a lender.

Who will distribute the funds?

Eligible local CDFIs will be the ones to make funds available. The participating lenders are:

  • 3Core
  • Access + Capital
  • Accion Serving Southern California
  • CDC Small Business Finance
  • ICA
  • Main Street Launch
  • Fondo Adelante
  • National Asian American Coalition
  • Opportunity Fund
  • PACE
  • Pacific Community Ventures
  • Working Solutions

California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program

This grant program was designed to alleviate the impact of the pandemic suffered by small businesses in California. You’re more likely to receive this grant if you’re part of a minority (women, persons of color, veterans…), are located in a rural or low-to-moderate income community. 

The basics

This is a grant, so you don’t have to repay it.

You can receive from $5,000 to $25,000, depending on your annual revenue.

Annual Revenue Grant Amount
$1,000 to $100,000 $5,000
$100,000 up to $1,000,000 $15,000
$1,000,000 up to $2,500,000 $25,000

There will be 2 rounds for the grant.

Can I apply?

To be eligible, you need to be a small business in the next categories:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Independent contractor
  • 1099 work
  • C-corporation
  • S-corporation
  • LLC (limited liability company)
  • Partnership
  • Registered 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) nonprofit

You also need to:

  • Have been operating before June 1, 2019
  • Be currently operating or have a plan to re-open
  • Have been affected by COVID-19
  • Have yearly gross revenue of at least $1,000 and up to $2.5 million

You’ll need the following documents:

  • The most recent tax return filed (2019 or 2018)
  • Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Organization, Fictitious Name of Registration, or Government-Issued Business License.
  • Government Issued Photo ID, like State ID, Driver’s License or Passport

You’ll need to scan these documents to send them along with your application.

Can I apply if I have an ITIN?

It looks like it (nothing in the eligibility criteria suggests the contrary).

How to apply

Applications for the fifth round opened on April 28 and closed on May 2. Starting May 7, they sent approval notifications (via email or text) to those that were awarded.

The sixth round was the last round of this program.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This program is now closed.

California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Application by county

Here’s a guide to help you during the application process.

NOTE: You can also apply directly with participating CDFI partners.

Who will distribute the funds?

You can find eligible local CDFIs in your county here.

Small Business Stabilization Loan Program 2021 

On January 28, 2021, the LA County Development Authority will offer recovery business loans (Small Business Stabilization Loans) to help businesses in the region. 

The basics

These loans range between $50,000 and $3 million, have a Fixed Wall Street Journal Prime rate. (Currently at 3.25%), and can be used for:

  •  working capital
  • equipment purchases
  •  Inventory 
  • refinancing of existing loans at higher interest rates

And the loan can have different terms, depending on what they’re used for:

  • 5-7 years if used for working capital
  • Up to 10 years if used for equipment
  • Up to 20 years if used for real estate acquisition and construction

Can I apply?

IMPORTANT NOTE: This program is now closed.

Your business can apply for this loan if you have a physical location within LA County, and been in operation for at least 2 years (there are ineligible businesses, though). 

You also need:

  • A minimum FICO score of 620
  • To have Good Standing
  • To prove financial stability

It’s important to notice that at least 1 full-time job must be retained or created for every $75,000.

Some loans might require collateral.

Can I apply if I have an ITIN?

There don’t seem to be any explicit restrictions in the eligibility criteria that mention an SSN.

How to apply? 

You need to submit a request for a counseling session.

You need to attend an official webinar to learn more about the requirements, the process, and the documentation needed.


This program is neither a grant nor a loan, but it can definitely help your small business prosper during the pandemic.

The basics

This program will give you a 30-day cost-free supply of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) or face shields, hand sanitizer, and/or face shields for each employee.

Can I apply?

To be eligible, you need to:

  • Have less than 100 employees
  • Be located in LA County
  • Not have previously received the benefit of this program

You also need to be a small business in the next categories:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • S or C corporation
  • Micro-business scheme

Can I apply if I have an ITIN?

It looks like it (nothing in the sign-up form suggests the contrary).

How to apply

Applying for this program is very easy, you need to:

  1. Create an account on their website
  2. Fill out a business information form
  3. Confirm your information
  4. Schedule a date and time to pick up the PPE

More Resources for Small Businesses

We wholeheartedly encourage you to apply for these programs so that you can keep your business strong and healthy while this pandemic lasts. With a bit of help, you’ll have more resources and capital to survive this crisis. 

Find helpful resources that can help you weather the storm:

COVID-19: Small Business Resources, coronavirus, Camino financial

COVID-19: Small Business Resources



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