Well, you could be out of luck.
Unless, that is, you find your way to a community development financial institution, or CDFI.
Little known until very recently, CDFIs - like Philadelphia's Finanta, which last week received a major boost from six banks - have become a vital economic force, especially in America's big urban centers.
CDFIs and small borrowers are a match made in heaven.
For the smallest of small business owners who need to borrow less than $50,000 to start or grow their businesses, CDFIs in Philadelphia and around the nation are often the only places to turn.
From day to day, in tiny amounts too small and too labor-intensive for major banks to deal with, CDFIs fund the dreams of micro-entrepreneurs.
Over the 20 years since the industry began, CDFIs have pumped an astonishing $24 billion into the national economy in the form of direct loans, investments, loan purchases and guarantees.
The Philadelphia-based Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is the mother ship of the CDFI industry in the U.S. Its combination of advocacy, funding and technical assistance has been critical to the industry's growth, along with the U.S. Treasury Department's CDFI Fund.
Just this month, the Treasury's fund announced $3.5 million in new grants to OFN and to three Philadelphia CDFIs: the Reinvestment Fund, Entrepreneur Works and Finanta.
In 2010, the latest year for which complete statistics are available, OFN reported that 150 of its member CDFIs across the country, with just under $9 billion in assets, provided micro-entrepreneurs $2.3 billion in loans, with a total of $5.7 billion in loans outstanding. This represents a 37 percent increase in dollar value over 2009.
Who got the money?
Well, 42 percent went to start-up businesses; 43 percent went to low-income businesses; and 56 percent went to minority entrepreneurs - 43 percent of whom were women CEOs
Are the loans repaid?
Even in these challenging times, portfolio performance remains strong. Only 3.5 percent are 90-days past due and only a tiny 2 percent have been charged off.
What does it all mean?
Over the past 20 years, 783,000 housing units have been developed, 64,000 businesses and micro-businesses have been financed and 317,000 jobs have been created or maintained.
To make this work, the support of major financial institutions is essential, and the CDFIs have traditionally worked together to widen the availability of financing beyond traditional sources.
In this case, Bank of America, Citibank, Citizens Bank, PNC Bank, TD Bank and Wells Fargo supported Finanta. However, there are numerous other banks and CDFIs serving our city and its newest business owners day in and day out.
They include Entrepreneur Works, the Women's Opportunities Resource Center and the Enterprise Center, and they all subscribe more or less to the OFN mission statement. They "create growth that is good for communities, investors, individuals and the economy. ... They deliver responsible lending to help low-income, low-wealth and otherwise disadvantaged individuals and communities join the economic mainstream."
To learn more about CDFIs, see the OFN website at opportunityfinance.net.
Don Haskin is Citibank's state director of community development for Pennsylvania.