Discover the Best Small Business and Startup Loans in India

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Discover the Best Small Business and Startup Loans in India
02 Dec 2023
5 min read

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Exploring the financial landscape of India unveils a vibrant ecosystem of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), encompassing an estimated 40 million entities, comprising both registered and unregistered establishments.

This dynamic sector spans across organized and unorganized realms, significantly contributing to the nation's economic vigor by accounting for approximately 40% of India's total GDP.

Beyond its economic impact, MSMEs serve as pivotal agents in addressing critical societal challenges, tackling issues like poverty, unemployment, regional disparities, and income inequality.

Recognizing the pivotal role played by these enterprises, the government has launched an array of initiatives and schemes specifically designed to facilitate funding and provide financial support to MSMEs and startups.

These schemes stand as pillars of opportunity, offering entrepreneurs the financial backing needed to bolster their businesses and fuel economic growth.

Leveraging these programs, entrepreneurs operating within the MSME ambit have the flexibility to access tailored loan solutions, selecting schemes that align seamlessly with their unique business requisites.

Through these initiatives, the government aims to empower and uplift the entrepreneurial spirit, enabling MSMEs to thrive, innovate, and contribute significantly to India's economic progress.

In this dynamic landscape, understanding and discovering the best small business and startup loans becomes a strategic imperative for burgeoning enterprises seeking to harness financial support to fuel their growth and success.

Small businesses and startups are the backbone of the Indian economy, driving innovation, job creation, and economic growth. Access to adequate funding is crucial for their success, and India offers a diverse range of small business and startup loan options to cater to their varying needs.

Let's explore the best small business and startup loans in India to fuel your entrepreneurial aspirations.

Moreover, it ventures into the realm of startup financing, exploring the landscape of startup business loans, eligibility criteria, and application processes. The piece sheds light on diffrent schemes, aimed at empowering entrepreneurs, and highlights initiatives fostering sustainable industries.

Join us in navigating the intricate pathways of India's financial terrain, unlocking the door to funding opportunities that power dreams, drive innovations, and steer the country's economic prowess."

Navigating the Landscape of Small Business and Startup Loans in India

The Indian financial landscape offers a plethora of loan options for small businesses and startups. These options can be broadly categorized into government schemes, bank loans, and alternative financing options.

Government Schemes:

The Indian government has introduced several schemes to promote entrepreneurship and provide affordable financing to small businesses and startups. These schemes typically offer lower interest rates, extended repayment periods, and subsidized interest rates. Some notable government schemes include:

MSME Business Loans in 59 Minutes: Empowering Small Businesses with Rapid Financing

In a significant step towards bolstering the financial well-being of small businesses, the Indian government introduced the MSME Business Loans in 59 Minutes scheme in September 2018. This initiative aims to expedite the loan approval process, enabling MSMEs to access the necessary funds promptly and seamlessly.

Key Features of the MSME Business Loans in 59 Minutes Scheme:

  • Eligibility: Both new and existing MSMEs are eligible to apply for loans under this scheme.

  • Loan Amount: Businesses can avail loans ranging from ₹1 lakh to ₹5 crore.

  • Interest Rates: Interest rates start from 8.5%, depending on the nature of the business and the borrower's creditworthiness.

  • Processing Time: The entire loan processing timeframe, including approval, is targeted to be completed within 59 minutes.

  • Documentation Requirements: The required documentation includes GST verification, income tax verification, bank account statements for the last 6 months, ownership-related documentation, and KYC details.

Benefits of the MSME Business Loans in 59 Minutes Scheme:

  • Rapid Access to Funds: The streamlined approval process ensures that businesses receive the necessary financing without prolonged delays.

  • Reduced Financial Burden: Competitive interest rates help minimize the financial burden on MSMEs.

  • Enhanced Cash Flow: Access to timely financing improves cash flow and promotes business growth.

  • Empowerment of MSMEs: The scheme empowers MSMEs to seize growth opportunities and contribute to India's economic expansion.

Impact of the MSME Business Loans in 59 Minutes Scheme:

Since its inception, the MSME Business Loans in 59 Minutes scheme has played a pivotal role in facilitating the growth of numerous small businesses across India. The scheme has streamlined the loan acquisition process, making it more accessible and efficient for MSMEs to secure the capital they need to thrive.

2. MUDRA Loans: Empowering Micro Businesses with Financial Support

In a commendable initiative to support the growth and sustainability of micro-enterprises, the Indian government established the Micro-Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) in 2016. MUDRA's primary mission is to provide financial assistance to micro-businesses, often referred to as the "unfunded," through a range of loan schemes specifically designed to cater to their needs.

MUDRA loans have gained widespread recognition for their role in promoting financial inclusion and enabling micro-entrepreneurs to access the capital they need to establish and expand their businesses. These loans have played a significant role in propelling economic growth and generating employment opportunities across India.

MUDRA Loan Categories:

MUDRA categorizes its loans into three distinct groups based on the stage of development and funding requirements of the micro-enterprise:

  1. Shishu Loans: Designed for budding micro-enterprises with a maximum loan amount of up to ₹50,000.

  2. Kishor Loans: Targeted at growing micro-enterprises with a loan limit ranging from ₹50,000 to ₹5,00,000.

  3. Tarun Loans: Catered to well-established micro-enterprises seeking larger loans of up to ₹10,00,000.

Eligibility Criteria for MUDRA Loans:

To be eligible for MUDRA loans, applicants must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Indian citizenship and business ownership

  • Age between 18 and 60 years for individual proprietors and 40 years for partnership firms

  • Business should be engaged in a non-farm activity

  • Business should fall under the definition of a micro-enterprise

Application Process for MUDRA Loans:

The application process for MUDRA loans is relatively straightforward and can be initiated through any bank branch or online portal. Applicants are required to submit relevant documents, including:

  • Application form

  • Proof of identity and address

  • Business registration documents

  • Financial statements

  • Project proposal

Impact of MUDRA Loans:

Since its inception, MUDRA has disbursed over ₹3 lakh crore in loans to millions of micro-enterprises across India. This widespread financial support has significantly impacted the micro-enterprise sector, leading to:

  • Increased business establishment and expansion

  • Enhanced employment opportunities

  • Improved livelihoods and poverty reduction

  • Contribution to economic growth and national development

Also Read: Empowering Your Business: Simple Accounting Tips for Success

3. Stand-Up India Scheme: Empowering Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

In a significant step towards promoting inclusive economic growth and fostering entrepreneurship among marginalized communities, the Indian government launched the Stand-Up India scheme in 2015. This initiative aims to provide financial assistance and support to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and women entrepreneurs, empowering them to establish and expand their businesses.

Key Features of the Stand-Up India Scheme:

  • Target Beneficiaries: The scheme specifically targets SC/ST entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs.

  • Loan Amount: Businesses can avail of loans ranging from ₹10 lakh to ₹1 crore.

  • Reservation Mandate: All participating banks are mandated to earmark at least 1% of their total advances under the priority sector to Stand-Up India loans.

  • Fund Coverage: The loan can cover up to 75% of the project cost.

  • Eligibility Criteria: Businesses engaged in trading, manufacturing, or the services sector are eligible for loans. For non-individual businesses, a minimum of 51% of the shares must be held by an SC/ST entrepreneur or a woman entrepreneur.

Impact of the Stand-Up India Scheme:

Since its inception, the Stand-Up India scheme has played a crucial role in promoting entrepreneurship among underrepresented groups. The scheme has:

  • Increased access to finance for SC/ST and women entrepreneurs

  • Encouraged business establishment and expansion

  • Promoted economic empowerment and social inclusion

  • Contributed to job creation and poverty reduction

4. Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE):

Enhancing Access to Collateral-Free Loans for MSMEs

The Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) stands as a cornerstone of India's efforts to promote entrepreneurship and support the growth of the MSME sector. This government-backed initiative aims to address the collateral barrier often faced by MSMEs, enabling them to access the necessary financing to establish, expand, and operate their businesses effectively.

Key Features of the CGTMSE Scheme:

  • Collateral-Free Loans: MSMEs can avail of loans without the requirement of providing physical collateral security.

  • Loan Eligibility: Both new and existing MSMEs are eligible to apply for loans under the scheme.

  • Guarantor: The Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGFMSE Trust), established by the Ministry of MSME and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), provides a guarantee for the loans.

  • Loan Amount: Businesses can secure loans up to Rs. 200 lakh for working capital requirements.

  • Focus on Women Entrepreneurs: Priority is given to women entrepreneurs to promote their financial inclusion and empowerment.

Eligibility Criteria for CGTMSE Loans:

To be eligible for CGTMSE loans, MSMEs must meet specific criteria, including:

  • MSME Registration: The business must be registered under the MSMED Act, 2006.

  • Eligible Activities: The business must be engaged in manufacturing, trading, or services sectors.

  • Financial Viability: The business must demonstrate financial viability and a sound track record.

  • Debt-Equity Ratio: The debt-equity ratio should be within the prescribed limits.

Application Process for CGTMSE Loans:

MSMEs can apply for CGTMSE loans through any participating Scheduled Commercial Bank (SCB), Private Sector Bank (PSB), or Regional Rural Bank (RRB). The application process typically involves submitting:

  • Application Form: A duly filled application form along with prescribed fees.

  • Business Documents: Relevant business documents, including registration certificates, financial statements, and project proposals.

  • KYC Documents: Know Your Customer (KYC) documents to establish the identity and ownership of the business.

Impact of the CGTMSE Scheme:

The CGTMSE scheme has played a significant role in alleviating the collateral burden faced by MSMEs, facilitating their access to finance and fostering their growth. The scheme has:

  • Increased loan disbursements to MSMEs

  • Promoted business establishment and expansion

  • Contributed to job creation and economic growth

  • Strengthened the MSME sector and its contribution to the national economy

5. National Small Industries Corporation Subsidy:

The National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), a government enterprise under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), stands as a pillar of support for the growth and development of the MSME sector in India. NSIC's dedication to providing comprehensive services, including finance, technology, market, and other assistance, has been instrumental in empowering MSMEs to thrive in the competitive market landscape.

Marketing Support Scheme: Paving the Path to Market Excellence:

Recognizing the crucial role of market access and promotion in MSME success, NSIC has introduced the Marketing Support Scheme. This scheme encompasses a range of initiatives designed to enhance the visibility and marketability of MSME products and services. Key features of the scheme include:

  • Consortia Formation: NSIC facilitates the formation of consortia among MSMEs to enable them to participate in large-scale tenders and projects.

  • Tender Marketing: NSIC actively disseminates information about tenders and procurement opportunities to MSMEs, helping them tap into lucrative market segments.

  • Participation in Exhibitions and Trade Fairs: NSIC provides financial assistance to MSMEs for participation in national and international exhibitions and trade fairs, expanding their market reach and brand recognition.

Credit Support Scheme: Fueling MSME Growth with Financial Assistance:

Understanding the financial needs of MSMEs, NSIC has implemented the Credit Support Scheme. This scheme offers a range of financing options tailored to address the diverse requirements of MSMEs at various stages of their growth journey. Key features of the scheme include:

  • Raw Material Procurement: NSIC provides financial assistance to MSMEs for purchasing raw materials, ensuring a smooth supply chain and uninterrupted production.

  • Marketing Activities: NSIC offers financing for marketing and promotional activities, enabling MSMEs to effectively reach their target audience and expand their customer base.

  • Syndication Loans: NSIC collaborates with banks to arrange syndication loans for MSMEs, providing access to larger financing options at competitive interest rates.

Impact of NSIC Subsidies on MSMEs:

NSIC's subsidies have played a transformative role in the growth and sustainability of MSMEs across India. These subsidies have:

  • Reduced Financial Burden: By providing subsidized financing and tender participation support, NSIC has alleviated the financial strain on MSMEs, allowing them to allocate resources more effectively.

  • Enhanced Market Access: NSIC's marketing support initiatives have increased the visibility and market reach of MSME products, opening doors to new opportunities and customers.

  • Promoted Growth and Expansion: NSIC's subsidies have empowered MSMEs to expand their operations, increase production capacity, and create employment opportunities.

  • Contributed to Economic Growth: The growth of MSMEs supported by NSIC subsidies has fueled India's economic growth and development.

5. Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (CLCSS)

In a strategic move to enhance the technological capabilities and competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the Indian government introduced the Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (CLCSS) in 2000. This initiative aims to provide financial assistance to SMEs for adopting advanced technologies and processes, enabling them to improve their productivity, reduce costs, and expand their market reach.

Key Features of the CLCSS Scheme:

  • Technology Upgradation Focus: The scheme specifically targets technology upgradation across various aspects of an SME's operations, including manufacturing, marketing, supply chain management, and overall business practices.

  • Cost Reduction Objective: By promoting technology adoption, the CLCSS aims to reduce the cost of production for SMEs, enhancing their price competitiveness in both domestic and international markets.

  • Upfront Capital Subsidy: Eligible SMEs receive an upfront capital subsidy of 15% on the investment made in technology upgradation projects.

  • Maximum Subsidy Limit: The maximum subsidy amount an SME can avail under the CLCSS is ₹15 lakh.

  • Eligible Business Entities: Sole proprietorships, partnership firms, cooperatives, private limited companies, and public limited companies can benefit from the CLCSS scheme.

Eligibility Criteria for CLCSS Subsidy:

To be eligible for the CLCSS subsidy, SMEs must meet the following criteria:

  • Registration: The SME must be registered under the MSMED Act, 2006.

  • Sectoral Coverage: The SME must operate in the manufacturing or service sector.

  • Technology Adoption: The technology being adopted must be well-established and approved under the scheme.

  • Investment Threshold: The minimum investment made in technology upgradation should be ₹1 lakh.

Application Process for CLCSS Subsidy:

SMEs can apply for the CLCSS subsidy through various channels, including:

  • Designated Institutions: Applications can be submitted through designated institutions such as Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), and state-level nodal agencies.

  • Online Portal: Online application facility is also available through the CLCSS portal.

Impact of the CLCSS Scheme on SMEs:

The CLCSS scheme has played a pivotal role in driving technological advancements and enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs across India. The scheme has:

  • Prompted Technology Adoption: Encouraged SMEs to adopt new technologies, improving their operational efficiency and product quality.

  • Enhanced Productivity: Led to increased productivity and reduced production costs, strengthening the profitability of SMEs.

  • Strengthened Market Competitiveness: Improved the market competitiveness of SMEs, enabling them to compete effectively in domestic and international markets.

  • Contributed to Economic Growth: The growth and success of SMEs supported by the CLCSS scheme have contributed positively to India's overall economic growth and development.

6. Udyogini: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Through Financial Assistance

In a significant step towards fostering women's entrepreneurship and economic empowerment, the Government of India introduced the Udyogini scheme in 2015. This flagship initiative, implemented by the Women Development Corporation (WDC), aims to provide financial assistance to aspiring women entrepreneurs, enabling them to establish and expand their businesses.

Key Features of the Udyogini Scheme:

  • Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: The scheme specifically targets women entrepreneurs, providing them with the necessary capital to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.

  • Subsidized Loans: Loans are provided at subsidized interest rates, making them more accessible and affordable for women entrepreneurs.

  • Maximum Loan Amount: Businesses can avail of loans up to Rs. 15 lakh.

  • Eligibility Criteria: Women entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 55 are eligible to apply. There is no income limit for physically challenged or widowed women.

  • Documentation Requirements: The application process requires minimal documentation, including passport-sized photographs, birth certificates, Aadhaar cards, income certificates, and supporting documents related to the business venture.

  • Collateral-Free Loans: Loans are provided without the requirement of collateral, easing the financial burden on women entrepreneurs.

  • Processing Fee Waiver: Processing fees are waived, making the scheme more attractive to women entrepreneurs.

  • Wide Range of Eligible Businesses: Women can apply for loans for a variety of businesses, covering 88 different categories.

Impact of the Udyogini Scheme on Women Entrepreneurs:

The Udyogini scheme has played a transformative role in empowering women entrepreneurs across India. The scheme has:

  • Increased Access to Finance: Provided women entrepreneurs with much-needed financial support, enabling them to overcome the initial capital hurdle and start their businesses.

  • Promoted Business Establishment and Expansion: Supported the establishment and expansion of numerous women-owned businesses, generating employment opportunities and contributing to economic growth.

  • Enhanced Socio-Economic Status of Women: Empowered women economically, promoting their financial independence and social recognition.

  • Contributed to Inclusive Development: Promoted inclusive economic growth by fostering women's participation in the entrepreneurial landscape.

7. SIDBI Sustainable Finance Scheme

In a concerted effort to promote sustainable development and foster a greener economy, the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) launched the Sustainable Finance Scheme.

This comprehensive initiative aims to provide financial assistance to industries engaged in sustainable practices, particularly those focusing on green energy, renewable energy, technology hardware, and non-renewable energy.

The scheme encompasses the entire value chain of cleaner production, energy efficiency, and sustainable development projects, ensuring holistic support for businesses committed to environmental sustainability.

Key Features of the Sustainable Finance Scheme:

  • Sustainable Industry Support: The scheme specifically targets industries that promote sustainable practices and contribute to environmental preservation.

  • Wide Range of Eligible Projects: Businesses involved in green energy, renewable energy, technology hardware, and non-renewable energy projects can avail of loans under the scheme.

  • Value Chain Coverage: The scheme extends to the entire value chain of sustainable projects, encompassing raw material procurement, manufacturing, distribution, and end-user activities.

  • Financial Assistance: Businesses can secure loans tailored to their specific project needs and requirements.

  • Competitive Interest Rates: Loans are offered at attractive interest rates, making them more accessible and affordable for sustainable businesses.

  • Simplified Application Process: The application process is streamlined to ensure ease of access to financing for eligible businesses.

Impact of the Sustainable Finance Scheme:

The Sustainable Finance Scheme has played a pivotal role in accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices across various industries. The scheme has:

  • Promoted Sustainable Investments: Encouraged businesses to invest in sustainable technologies and processes, reducing their environmental impact.

  • Enhanced Clean Energy Adoption: Increased the uptake of green energy and renewable energy sources, contributing to India's transition to a low-carbon economy.

  • Supported Sustainable Development Goals: Contributed to the achievement of India's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those related to environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation.

  • Promoted Sustainable Economic Growth: Fostered sustainable economic growth by supporting businesses that align with environmental principles.

Navigating the Startup Business Loan Landscape: Eligibility, Documentation, and Application Process

Aspiring entrepreneurs often face the challenge of securing adequate funding to launch their innovative ventures. Recognizing this need, various financial institutions have introduced startup business loans specifically designed to cater to the unique requirements of early-stage businesses.

While the eligibility criteria and application process may vary between lenders, a general understanding of these aspects can guide aspiring entrepreneurs in their pursuit of funding.

Eligibility Criteria for Startup Business Loans:

To be eligible for a startup business loan, applicants typically need to meet the following criteria:

  • Age: The applicant must be at least 21 years old and not exceed 65 years of age.

  • Citizenship: The applicant must be a citizen of India.

  • Business Plan: A well-structured business plan outlining the venture's concept, market strategy, financial projections, and management team is essential.

Documents Required for Startup Business Loan Applications:

The documentation requirements for startup business loans may vary depending on the lender, but common requirements include:

  1. Identity Proof: PAN Card, Passport, Aadhaar Card, Voter's ID, or Driving License

  2. Address Proof: Passport, Driving License, Aadhaar Card, Postpaid Phone Bill, or Voter's ID

  3. Age Proof: Passport or PAN Card

  4. Bank Statements: Last six months of bank statements from the primary account

  5. Proof of Income: Income Tax Returns, Salary Slips, or other relevant documents

  6. Signature Proof: Bank verified signature, PAN Card, or Passport

  7. IFSC Code Proof: Cancelled/scanned cheque or copy of passbook's front page of the same bank account

Application Process for Startup Business Loans:

Aspiring entrepreneurs can apply for startup business loans through various channels:

  • Online Application: Visit the lender's official website and complete the online application form, attaching the required documents.

  • Branch Visit: Visit the nearest branch of the lender and submit the duly filled application form along with the required documents.

  • Customer Care Assistance: Dial the lender's customer care number and seek assistance in applying for a startup business loan.

Features and Benefits of Startup Business Loans:

Startup business loans offer several attractive features and benefits:

  • Collateral-Free Loans: Unlike traditional business loans, startup business loans often do not require the borrower to pledge collateral or security.

  • Flexible Repayment Options: Lenders typically offer easy and flexible repayment tenures tailored to the cash flow patterns of early-stage businesses.

  • Minimal Documentation: The documentation requirements for startup business loans are generally streamlined, reducing the administrative burden on applicants.

  • Swift Disbursement: Upon loan approval, the funds are promptly disbursed to the applicant's bank account, enabling a quick start to the business operations.

  • Competitive Interest Rates: Interest rates may vary depending on the lender and the applicant's credit history, but they are generally competitive compared to other financing options.

Startup business loans have emerged as a valuable financial tool for aspiring entrepreneurs, providing them with the necessary capital to transform their innovative ideas into thriving enterprises.

By understanding the eligibility criteria, documentation requirements, and application process, potential borrowers can navigate the startup loan landscape effectively and secure the funding needed to fuel their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Bank Loans:

Commercial banks are a primary source of financing for small businesses and startups. They offer a variety of loan products, including term loans, working capital loans, and overdraft facilities. The interest rates and repayment terms for bank loans may vary depending on the borrower's creditworthiness and the loan amount.

Alternative Financing Options:

In addition to traditional government schemes and bank loans, alternative financing options have emerged to cater to the growing demand for capital among small businesses and startups. These options include:

  • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding platforms allow businesses to raise funds from a large pool of individual investors.

  • Angel Investors: Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest in early-stage startups in exchange for equity ownership.

  • Venture Capital (VC) Funds: VC funds invest in high-growth potential startups in exchange for significant equity ownership.

Choosing the Right Loan for Your Business:

The choice of the most suitable loan option depends on various factors, including the business's financial needs, stage of development, creditworthiness, and risk tolerance. Carefully evaluating these factors and comparing various loan options is crucial to make an informed decision.


India's diverse range of small business and startup loan options empowers entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality. By carefully considering their financing needs and exploring the available options, small businesses and startups can secure the capital they need to fuel their growth and contribute to India's thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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