The general finance market today has explored a vast scope in funding the small and medium enterprises. Unlike the previous decade, banks have expanded their credit options to SMEs by regularly updating their product lines, services and even opening special counters.

Business loans can be applied for a variety of requirements such as starting new ventures, expansions, new purchase, working capital requirement, vendor and dealer financing, bill discounting etc.

Business Loan Categories

Term Loans: There are different types of term loans today – short term loans, long term loans and intermediate loans, which the entrepreneur can avail upon his requirement and financial position. The maximum tenure of a short term loan will be 3 years and for a long term loan is 10-15 years. There will be slight interest variations for each.

Term loans are of two types – secured and unsecured. In secured loans, the collateral can be a property, business premise or machinery and will usually have lower interest rates than an unsecured one.

Overdrafts: The word overdraft means overdrawing from your current account. In other words, the account holder withdraws more money from the account than what has been deposited. If the amount overdrawn is within the limits of a prior agreement, the interest will be charged at an agreed rate. A higher interest rate is applicable if it exceeds the limits. As an overdraft can be covered with the next deposit, it is an ideal source of temporary funding.

Bill Discounting: In this process you get instant cash on large purchases or the credit sales made by discounting your purchase / sales bill at your bank. You need to produce the documents which authenticate the transaction like trade invoices challans, truck receipts/railway receipts, bill of lading etc.

Letter of Credit: Letters of credit are used primarily in international trades of significant value. They are also used in the land development process. The parties to a letter of credit are the issuing bank of whom the applicant is a client, a beneficiary who is to receive the money, and the advising bank for which the beneficiary is a client. As letter of credit is often used in international finance where buyer and seller do not know each other, the business transaction will be facilitated using the bank’s credit worthiness.

The document a beneficiary needs to present in order to receive the payment includes a commercial invoice, bill of lading, and an insurance policy that covers the goods in transit.

Schemes for Women Entrepreneurs

Banks are now unveiling a slew of attractive lending schemes for women entrepreneurs. Many schemes that are exclusively for women provide relief in terms of collateral security and interest rates. Interest rates vary in most cases from 0.25% to 1% on applicable conditions.

Some banks have special cells for women entrepreneurs. Besides consulting, here they provide training, counselling and at times avenues for showcasing and marketing their products. They give a more realistic view of the businesses and often give references of similar businesses and the issues they were facing initially.

If women’s ownership in a company is less than 50%, the benefits of women’s schemes cannot be availed.