Business Loan Application: Getting a Business Loan in South Africa

Business Loan Application: Getting a Business Loan in South Africa

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Teboho Nkwanyana is a successful South African business owner who makes a significant contribution to the economy. His business, the Salad Bar, doubled turnover from one year to the next, hiring more employees as it leaps from surge after surge of growth.

But when it came to getting a business loan, none of that was enough.

When Nkwanyana approached his bank for a business loan, the application process was difficult and drawn-out.

“I applied for a business loan to my bank several times. Each time there was either no response or a decline with no reasons.”

Nkwanyana’s story reflects a struggle shared by many SMEs.

South African business owners say there’s been little improvement in access to SME finance, according to a 2018 study by the South African Banking Association.

For many SMEs, part of the problem is finding the right information.

We’ve pulled together this compact guide to cover the most common questions around applying for a business loan to South African banks and alternative funders.

Our guide covers:

  • How to select the best business loan for your SME
  • How to qualify for a business loan
  • How to apply for a business loan
  • How to pay back your business loan

If you’re in a rush, here’s a summary of the key steps in the business loan application process:

  1. Decide on what you need from a business loan
  2. Determine the minimum requirements to see if you qualify, e.g., collateral, credit score
  3. Gather all the relevant documents
  4. Study the repayment terms
  5. Apply

Decide on what you need from a business loan

So, you need a business loan. If you’re battling to find the right one, you’re not alone.

In South Africa, SMEs can choose from 146 funders offering 328 different types of business loans and funding, report this study.

You might think all that choice makes getting a business loan easy.

In truth, it’s even harder.

Too many businesses are rejected because they’re applying for the wrong type of finance, suggests research.

Figuring out your funding need is the first step in the business loan application process, explains Garth Rossiter, Lulalend’s Chief Risk Officer.

“You want to use your business loan for the right reasons: to grow your SME. Start by understanding your business’s financial needs.”

Begin with the following questions, said Rossiter.

  • When do I need cash flow?

Timing is key; for instance, if you need a business loan to cover late payments, unexpected expenses, or to service a new contract.

As Nkwanyana tells us:

“In some cases, you need an overnight facility. You’re waiting for the invoice to be released, and you only need funds for a few hours.”

Are there spikes and dips in business activity? Perhaps, your business is seasonal. Study the forces that influence when you’d need business finance.

  • Why do I need cash flow?

Let’s take a closer look at the common reasons SMEs seek business loans. Aside from startup costs, most requests are for equipment finance and business expansion, according to a FinFind study.

  • List the eligible business loan providers

Take the insights you gain during the first two steps and start listing the financial institutions who offer the business loans you need.

Each of these steps will help you clarify your goals, assess your business’s financial health, and manage any shortcomings.

How to qualify for a business loan

If you search for a business loan online, you’ll be confronted by a staggering number of results: 1.5 billion, to be exact.

And though banks still dominate as finance sources for SMEs, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) finds other business loan providers have started to appeal to business owners who are searching for fast, easy ways to access finance. (The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, works with the private sector in developed countries to expand access to economic opportunities. They are a Lulalend investor.)

As you’ll see later in this guide, business loan requirements depend on the lender. To speed up the process, speak to the funder before you apply, recommends the South African Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA).

“Before you make an application for finance, talk to the lender about exactly what sort of information they require – so that you can get a response to your application as quickly as possible.”

We’ll go through the key requirements here.

Credit score

What’s your credit score? Understanding your business credit worthiness is a great practice in general. But it’s especially important if you’re planning to take out a business loan.

Lenders will base their decisions, in part, on your credit rating.

Once you submit your business loan application, lenders will access data about your credit history from the credit bureaus.

There are indicators that influence your credit rating, and these include:

  • Your current levels of debt
  • Your payment history

Rossiter explained how a positive payment history influenced your credit rating.

“It’s important to maintain a good repayment history on long-standing accounts”

But, not all debt was good for your credit rating.

“High-risk personal funding negatively impacts your credit rating.”

In short: credit scores matter, but they’re not the only indicators lenders use to assess risk.

Alternative lenders use several data sources to make a credit judgement.

“Because fintech uses scoring technology to make an assessment, they use several data sources to assess a business owner’s eligibility,” said Rossiter.

What’s a good credit score to get a business loan?

There’s a lot of focus on personal credit scores when it comes to business loans.

Truth is, these personal credit scores are usually only one of several factors considered when lenders determine your business credit score.

However, a poor personal credit score will work against you.

Typically, between 640 to 700 is a good personal credit score. And higher scores mean lower risk.

Here’s a quick guide to personal credit ratings (ranges will vary depending on credit bureaus):

  • 700+: the best rating you can achieve. This is considered a very good to excellent rating.
  • 660+: a good credit rating, where you can access a wide range of deals
  • 620 to 659: you might struggle to get finance if you are in this range, but getting a business loan is still possible
  • Below 620: this is a score most lenders would see as high-risk. It might be worth rebuilding your credit score before you apply for a business loan

Here’s the caveat: your personal credit score and your business credit score are not one and the same.

If you’re applying for a business loan, your personal credit score may be considered along with several other assessment criteria. Lenders are rating your business. And your personal score is just a single data point they might take into account when they model your risk.


Has your business loan been rejected because of a lack of physical collateral?

A lack of collateral is among the most common problems facing SMEs on the hunt for a business loan, writes Marek Dubovec and Louise Gullifer in Secured Transactions Law Reform in Africa. 

Collateral is required by the bank to guarantee they will recover the money if you can’t pay back a business loan. Once you put up an asset as collateral, you’re giving the lender permission to claim that asset via the courts.

FinFind provides an overview of the legal obligations that come with collateral for business loans.

“…you CANNOT sell that asset without the written consent of the lender. Once the loan has been repaid in full, the lender no longer has a claim to the asset and you are free to sell it if you wish.”

Examples of physical collateral include:

  • Equipment
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Stock

A study into business lending in Africa found because SMEs were perceived as a higher credit risk, banks typically demanded valuable assets as collateral.

Plus, the lender will often value your assets for far less than they’re actually worth. That’s because the funder will be saddled with the costs of selling the assets, reports FinFind. These costs include:

  • Administration costs, e.g., determining which assets need to be sold and the interest fees
  • Finding a buyer, e.g., auction costs or advertising costs
  • Transfer of ownership, e.g., depending on the asset, there’s administration involved in the sale

The problem with this approach is obvious, explains Rossiter:

“Many SMEs don’t have access to physical collateral. But they have good cash flow.”

No collateral? You still have options.

More and more funders are offering unsecured business loans.

Some banks will waive the need for collateral if you have a purchase order. And most fintechs lenders don’t require collateral.

Time of operating

Nearly every type of business loan provider cites time in business as a critical requirement.

Typically, this excludes business owners who have only been operating for a few years. Fintech providers usually have less stringent requirements. If you have a trading history of one year, you’ll meet the minimum requirements.

Annual revenue

Most business loan providers will have set minimum revenue requirements. This differs from lender to lender.

Business loan minimum requirements

We contacted the banks to learn about the minimum requirements.

FNB business loan requirements

  • 12-months turnover in a business account
  • No unpaid debits on your account
  • Good personal credit rating

ABSA business loan requirements

  • Minimum affordability to be determined based on your financial statements
  • Additional security might be required depending your credit assessment

Nedbank cash advance requirements

  • Two years operating history
  • Nedbank merchant for at least three months
  • Business turnover of R1m and above
  • One-year transactional history


  • Earn a monthly salary from your business
  • Sole traders not eligible


You only need one year trading history and R500 000 annual turnover.

Once you’ve met the minimum requirements, it’s time to submit your application.

Financial documents

For this next step, you need to gather the right documents.

And while this sounds like the easy part, it’s one of the biggest reasons business owners get declined.

We’ve broken down the documents you need, by a business loan provider.

Business loan types vary from bank to bank, so we focused on the loans marketed specifically to SMEs. For instance, we looked at Nedbank’s unsecured loans, which is based on your turnover.


  • South African ID
  • Three-months salary slips (only SMEs who get a salary from their business are eligible)
  • Three months bank statement


  • 6 months bank statements
  • Annual financial statements
  • Year-to-date management accounts
  • Cash flow statements
  • Income statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Business plan


  • South African ID
  • Notice of incorporation
  • Registration certificate
  • Shareholder certificate
  • 6 months bank statements (if you’re not an ABSA client)
  • All directors to be present to sign application


  • One-year transactional history
  • Pro forma invoice demonstrating intended use of funds, up to 70% of the advance value


  • Only three months bank statements or management accounts

Is it hard to get a business loan?

By this time, you might be thinking it’s close to impossible to obtain a business loan.

We’re going to tackle this question on two fronts:

  1. Ease of application
  2. Likelihood of approval

To start, we contacted each of the banks to assess the ease of application.

Depending on whether or not you have an existing business or personal account with the bank, you’ll have different application options.

  • ABSA

The virtual banker will send the application forms to you. Plus, a banker will help you with the application telephonically.

  • Capitec

Apply in-branch

  • FNB

Apply online if you’re an existing customer. Request a call back or apply in-branch if you have no relationship with the bank.

  • Nedbank

If you have an existing account with Nedbank, your relationship manager will help you with the application. If not, you’ll need to visit the branch.

  • Lulalend

Applications with fintechs like Lulalend take just minutes. The process is fully online and you get an instant decision.

Now, how likely is it you’ll get that business loan?

We’re going to be honest, it’s not easy.

Let’s take a look at this statistic:

75% of credit applications by SMEs are rejected, according to an estimate cited by the IFC. 

It’s why there’s a funding gap—the shortfall between SMEs request and the finance approved—

of between R86 billion to R386 billion.

SMEs battle to get business loans from traditional funders in particular, according to research gathered by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa):

“Given their highly conservative nature, South African banks and lenders are more inclined to put resources in small businesses in their later stages of development. They are less likely to lend to start-up SMMEs…”

For Nkwanyana, accessing quick working capital was a struggle even when he was growing fast.

“Banks aren’t cut out for SME funding. They’re not looking at what your business really needs. They’re scoring you, but you don’t know much about the scorecard.”

Rossiter added:

“Traditional funders assess risk in a way that is not always designed for SMEs. It’s why approval rates are far lower. Alternative funders are meeting this gap, because their risk model is built specifically for SMEs.”

Paying back your business loan

Before you submit your application, read the terms and conditions, advises Rossiter.

Think about this question: for how long will you need the money?

If you think you might want to pay your loan quickly, prioritise funding that doesn’t come with early settlement charges.

“Ask about early settlement or prepayment costs. You need your funding to be as flexible as your business. Can you settle early? What if you only need the funding for a day or two?”

Others, like Standard Bank for instance, will require three months written notice if you want to settle early. And you’ll still have to cover the interest due.

What is the business loan interest rate in South Africa?

The current prime lending rate, as of February 2020, is 9.75%.

What this means is that the amount your pay usually fluctuates along with that interest rate. The interest rate is determined by the South African Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee.

Some business loan providers charged a fixed cost for business funding.

Applying for a business loan

It’s easy to see the business loan application process as an obstacle: a barrier between you and achieving your goals.

But, it doesn’t need to be that way.

Start by gaining insight into your business. When and why do you need cash flow? Once you’ve successfully answered those questions, you’ll be in the best position to secure a business loan that propels your SME forward.

Considering alternative finance?

At Lulalend, we’re on a mission to make it easy to get funding to grow.

Today, Nkwanyana looks forward to achieving new milestones in his business.

“Getting funding from Lulalend was straightforward. That’s the difference. They look at what your business needs.”

Get a free quote within minutes today. It’s the easiest way to access up to R1.5million in business finance.

2 Mistakes SMEs Make When Applying to Banks for Business Loans

2 Mistakes SMEs Make When Applying to Banks for Business Loans

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Banks reject more than 70% of business loan applications.

This estimate, cited by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), underscores the problem many SMEs face when they try to access finance.

Why are so many business loan applications declined?

We’re uncovering some of the key mistakes SMEs make when applying to banks for business loans.

The reasons banks reject business loan applications

The high rejection rate for business loans is worrying when you consider one of the main reasons SMEs fail is due to lack of funds.

“… access to finance is a key constraint to SME growth, it is the second most cited obstacle facing SMEs to grow their businesses in emerging markets and developing countries,” reports the World Bank.

For too many business owners, capital is the only thing standing in the way of achieving their goals.

So, many businesses use their own cash or they turn to family and friends, according to this SME South Africa assessment.

The problem with this approach is your growth is limited by the capital you can access from your network.

And that’s why business owners turn to other sources of income.

Now, research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows more and more business owners are exploring alternative funders; many business owners, however, still apply to apply to banks for business loans.

But traditional funders like banks have rigorous criteria: requirements that are often not suited to small to medium sized businesses.

“Our banks’ credit products are usually inflexible in their loan requirements and take a long time to process more complicated credit applications,” said Johan Bosini, a partner at Quona Capital, in this Business Tech article.

We’ve gathered the research and discovered the main mistakes SMEs make when applying for business loans include:

  • Not providing enough information
  • Not attaching collateral

Here’s the detail.

1. Not providing enough information

When Imraan Moos, a South African business owner, considered applying for finance to grow his business, he approached his bank.

To complete his application, Moos needed to complete a 30-page document.

It’s a mountain of paperwork most business owners know well.

SMEs in South Africa must endure lengthy application processes and submit tons of financial data.

A FinFind investigation into the obstacles facing SMEs calls out financial documentation as a barrier to obtaining business loans.

“Without these documents, the funder is unable to process the funding application, and the
SMME is unable to secure the funding they need.”

Here’s the caveat, though.

Thorough financial record-keeping isn’t a bad thing for your business. It’s exactly what you need to make the best decisions for your SME’s financial future.

More from the FinFind report:

“Many SMMEs struggle with financial recordkeeping and as a result are unable to produce up-to-date management accounts and other vital financial documents. Without these, they are not only unable to access finance, but they are also ill-equipped to make decisions in their business or properly manage their cash flow.”

At Lulalend, we’re a strong believer in the power of financial record-keeping. When you have financials in order, you always have your finger on the pulse of your business health. You’re in a position to identify weaknesses and act before they pose a threat to growth.

But there’s a difference between the kind of data you need to better run your business and the onerous information banks require to process your application.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Before Standard Bank will consider your business loan application, you’ll need to submit:

  • Business plan
  • Cash flow forecast
  • Sales and purchase budgets
  • Projected income statements
  • Personal statements of assets and liabilities for all partners or directors

It’s why digital funders, like Lulalend, only require your last three months bank statements. Based on the historical financial data of the business, Lulalend can make a judgement on the business health.

Lulalend extracts the data automatically—and securely—from your bank statements, speeding up the approval process. This is why you recieve your business funding in 24 hours, versus weeks or months with a traditional funder.

2. Not attaching collateral

For SMEs seeking business loans to grow, attaching collateral might swing the scales in their favour.

The South African Banking Association report into SME finance found not attaching collateral was one of the main reasons banks reject loans.

Screenshot via South African Banking Association report, Hurdles in SME Financing

Here’s where unsecured loans, where no collateral is required, makes a massive difference.

Unsecured lending is especially useful for SMEs, said Roelof Botha, an economist.

“Unsecured lending is also, as a rule, the only source of financing of working capital for small, medium & micro enterprises (SMMEs),” Botha told Business Tech.

“An expansion of access to unsecured credit by financial institutions holds the obvious potential advantage of assisting the quest for higher economic growth, employment creation and, as an inference, a broadening of the tax base,” adds Botha.

Banks, for their part, ask for collateral because they want a guarantee you will repay the money.

Alternative funders assess your business performance in real-time. By using scoring technology, Lulalend can make a judgement on a business owner’s affordability and risk. This detailed analysis means you don’t need collateral.

Business loans built for SMEs

Alternative funders are meeting the needs of business owners. By designing business loans specifically for SMEs, fintech companies especially have been able to serve South African businesses.

If you want to learn more about how funding with Lulalend works, learn more about how to apply for business finance within minutes here.

3 Ways Bridging Finance Instantly Improves Cash Flow for Your Business

3 Ways Bridging Finance Instantly Improves Cash Flow for Your Business

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Are you looking for bridging finance to cover gaps in your cashflow?

Every entrepreneur knows the anxiety that comes with a shortfall in business funding.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Bridging finance solves business owners cash flow problems quickly, providing fast, short-term business finance within hours.

Instead of immense personal stress and worry, you’ll be free to pursue your most ambitious business goals.

In the article below, we discuss the benefits of bridging finance. If you’re only after a quick summary, bridging finance is a type of business funding that covers costs while you’re waiting for expected business funding. You can access bridging finance in 24 hours with Lulalend.

How does Bridging Finance Work?

You’ve told us the biggest impact of not being able to quickly access capital includes:

  • Missed opportunities to grow
  • High levels of stress and worry
  • Unable able to market business properly

And there are just those periods in your business; moments when your immediate needs outstrip your available capital.

Perhaps you’re facing hefty unexpected expenses. Maybe there’s a gap between paying your suppliers and getting paid by your clients.

And it’s usually even worse at month-end.

Business owners, like Andrew Nkhoma, frequently find themselves waiting on payment.

“I run a repair shop… and parts are very expensive to buy…in most cases, I have to pay for the parts and receive payment later from insurance and clients,” said Nkhoma.

Growing businesses, in particular, often struggle with cash flow shortfalls, explained Heidi Alson, Lulalend Business Funding Specialist.

“Business owners in the retail sector tell me they’ve invested in inventory to help grow. But, now they’re waiting for that stock to sell so they can start turning a profit. For other business owners, they’ve just secured a new contract, but they need a new piece of equipment to deliver the goods.”

This is a stressful scenario that plays out across industries; gaps in cash flow that derail planning, add unnecessary stress, and hinder business growth.

“You know the money’s coming in, but you need a short-term business funding boost to tide you over,” said Alson.

So, it’s no surprise that the number one barrier to growth for businesses is lack of cash flow.

That’s according to the 2019 National Small Business Survey, by the National Small Business Chamber Initiative.

It’s easy to accept this cycle as part and parcel of the unpredictability that goes with entrepreneurship.

There’s a better way.

Bridging finance is a type of finance used to cover costs while you’re waiting for expected funds.

It’s a form of business funding that’s especially useful for high-growth businesses.

In such cases, cash flow can help cover your costs in the short term for investments that you expect a return on in the near future.

3 Business-Growing Benefits of Bridging Finance

Here’s three benefits of bridging finance:

  1. Consistent cash flow

Instead of stress-induced cash flow ups and downs, bridging loans bring instant certainty to your business finances.

It’s the kind of assurance that lets you take advantage of opportunities for growth.

Many business owners choose a business line of credit to deal with a spike in demand.

Lulalend’s credit facility gives business owners the ability to access cash flow right when they need it.

Plus, unlike credit options with traditional lenders, Lulalend’s facility imposes no initiation, admin, or credit life charges.

2. Fast access to flexible bridging finance

Bridging finance might seem like an answer to all your cash flow problems.

There’s a caveat, though.

Applications with traditional institutions might take weeks or longer. So, the process might still be dragging on long after you needed the money in the first place.

We know if you’re after bridging finance, you want it fast.

So, when you apply for business funding with Lulalend, you’ll get the cash in your account in 24 hours. For business owners who have a credit facility, accessing business funding is as easy as initiating a withdrawal from their online account.

Because the business funding is flexible, you’re free to use the bridging finance for any business need.

Even better, you don’t need to attach any assets as collateral.

The takeaway?

Prioritise bridging finance options that pay out quickly.

3. Pay early and save

Fast access to finance is necessary for growth. But, sometimes, that capital comes at a cost.

There are short-term lenders that impose high interest rates in exchange for quick, easy access to bridging finance.

And if you want to settle early to avoid higher fees, you’ll be saddled with early payment fees. So, study the options carefully before you decide on the right business funding product for your needs.

At Lulalend, costs are transparent. Instead of being penalised for early payment, you’ll save.

For example, business owners who take bridging finance of R100 000 only pay around R4,500 if they want to pay back the amount a month later. (The exact cost depends on your credit score and affordability.)

So, rather than putting a strain on your cash flow later, this kind of payment structure won’t place pressure on your business finances further down the line.

Bridging Finance Helps Business Owners Expand

Bridging finance brings peace of mind.

For business owners like Nkhoma, bridging finance has solved the cash flow challenge of waiting for payment from clients.

“Lulalend comes to rescue in minutes and their loans are paperless with no complications, (they) have rescued my company twice now.”

So, you no longer need to worry about missing an opportunity to grow. You no longer need to lose sleep over cash flow while you wait for money.

Apply online today.

Why Successful SMEs Use a Credit Facility to Boost Business Funding

Why Successful SMEs Use a Credit Facility to Boost Business Funding

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We know running a business is never easy. It’s even harder when you can’t access capital.

Fortunately, simple, quick business funding can set your SME up for success.

Here’s where a credit facility comes in.

Think about it.

What difference would it make in your business if you could access up to R1.5 million whenever you needed it?

“User-friendly, efficient” Business Funding

A lack of funding holds businesses back. Not only that, but cash flow challenges place business owners under immense stress. Instead of jumping on opportunities to grow, you’re up at night, worrying about how to pay unexpected expenses.

And you’re not alone.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report found access to finance was one of the biggest obstacles to business growth.

It’s why more and more business owners are using our credit facility to purchase stock or quickly add new team members when they take on new contracts.

One of them is Stefan Jordaan, the owner of Expidor 147, a wholesale supplier of dental products.

When Expidor 147 experiences a growth spike, Jordaan taps into his Lulalend credit facility.

“The whole process (of accessing funds) is user-friendly and efficient,” said Jordaan.

fInstead of having to re-apply for business finance, Jordaan accesses his line of revolving credit whenever he needs funds.

The cash is available immediately.

Here’s a few other reasons why so many of our customers use our credit facility:

    • You only pay for the funds you use
    • You can settle whenever you want, no early penalties
    • You pay no monthly admin fees for having the facility

And because the facility works like revolving credit, the capital amount becomes available again after every debit order.

You Want Fast, Flexible Business Funding

Tracy Kukard, Business Funding Specialist and Account Manager, said many businesses prioritised easy access to funds.

“A lot of businesses like to have month to month access to a lump sum of funds that they can access at anytime when a particular business need arises.”

What this means is that if a business secures a new contract that requires more staff or equipment, for instance, they can tap into their revolving credit facility.

Businesses across industries are applying for the credit facility, said Lene Schlebusch-Kemp, Business Funding Specialist and Account Manager.

A major draw is the facility’s flexibility.

“There’s no requirement or limitation on how much you use or what you use it for. If you’re a business looking to grow, fund flexibility is crucial.”

Unlike credit options with traditional lenders, Lulalend’s facility imposes no initiation, admin, or credit life charges.

Credit Facility FAQs

Here’s answers to some of the frequently asked questions you’ve had about our credit facility:

How do I apply for a credit facility?

If you’ve previously taken out funding from Lulalend, the application is even easier. Because your financial information is already linked, the process of assessing your eligibility for our credit facility is even faster.

Contact or speak with your dedicated account manager for more.

If you’re not an existing Lulalend customer, apply within minutes here. Funding is approved in 24 hours.

How soon can you access the credit facility?

Once you’ve completed your profile, which includes making sure your financial information is complete, you’ll be able to withdraw from your credit facility.

How do I withdraw from my credit facility?

Log onto your Lulalend profile and go to the Credit Facility tab. You will see the available amount that you are able to withdraw. Select the amount and click “Withdraw now”. A legal agreement will be presented to you to sign online. It’s as simple as that.

Where can I get more info about Lulalend’s credit facility?

You can read more about how our credit facility works here, or you can watch this quick video which sums it up in a few minutes.


How Fast Business Finance Helps SMEs During Load Shedding

How Fast Business Finance Helps SMEs During Load Shedding

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A year ago, Ockert Cameron sat down and planned the annual budget for his business, Raw Food for Pets.

What he didn’t know then was that the crippling power cuts that spread through the country last year would send his costs ballooning.

“It’s my financial year-end in February, and we’ve spent more than R100k that we didn’t budget for just to make sure we can continue operating,” said Cameron.

Raw Food Pets is an online store, supplying healthy, natural pet food for domestic dogs and cats across Gauteng.

Cameron is one of thousands of business owners who continue to take strain under the pressure of ongoing load shedding.

And it’s only going to get worse.

It’s why businesses like Raw Food for Pets—business like yours—need fast, easy access to business finance during a time of crisis.

Emergency Task Force Fast-Tracks Business Finance Applications

In December last year, small businesses were hammered by the deepest power cuts yet. For the first time, South Africa experienced Stage 6 load shedding.

An analysis by the Bureau for Economic Research found that these outages sent manufacturing and business activity plummeting throughout the country.

That’s when Lulalend CEO, Trevor Gosling, stepped in, announcing the launch of the SME Load Shedding Task Force. This unit set out to accelerate applications for business finance driven by the impact of load-shedding.

“Typically, applications for business finance take 24 hours to process. When a business tells us they’re being severely affected by load shedding, we prioritise that application so we can help them survive,” said Gosling.

Lulalend is running a countrywide survey of SMEs to gain a deeper understanding into the needs of South African business owners.  (Complete the survey here and stand to win one of five R1000 Takealot vouchers.)

“Early results show more than 60% of businesses are struggling with losses due to power cuts,” said Gosling.

Typically, applications to traditional financial institutions take weeks or longer, added Gosling.

And right now, when the money can’t come soon enough, having the ability to get cash quickly makes all the difference.

“Because Lulalend uses technology to score businesses based on real-time performance, we can get the best funding to our customers, fast.”

Access to Business Finance Critical for SMEs

Raw Food for Pets is one of the businesses that have secured funding from Lulalend to deal with the fallout from load shedding.

“I understand why businesses are getting depressed. I understand why people are not happy. It’s not easy…Going to Lulalend has helped us cross this bridge.”

To keep trading, Raw Food Pets has moved to an export cold store. The facility provides three levels of generation, a precaution that doesn’t come cheap: it’s a measure that’s doubled monthly storage costs.

“We’ve had to change the way we store frozen products, but there’s a premium attached to that,” said Cameron.

Staying connected is critical. Raw Food for Pets is an online store; one that strives to meet the needs of its customers, despite load shedding.

That commitment to responsive customer service requires reliable internet access.

A diesel generator and backup for uninterrupted power supply added to the escalating costs, said Cameron.

But for other SMES, there’s been no way out.

Cameron recalls a number of suppliers and competitors that have been forced to shut their doors, resulting in scores of job losses.

“Load Shedding is Something we Dread.”

Now, the survival of SMEs relies on access to business finance.

“For small business owners, load shedding is something we dread. We’ve been lucky, we had some of our own funds when we started the business.

“Businesses are closing, there’s loss of revenue…if this isn’t fixed, the SME market will implode.”

To stem the losses, Cameron suggests creative approaches to small business funding.

“Corporate lenders should consider temporary shareholding in exchange for emergency load shedding funding,” he added.

Secure Your Future With Business Finance

It’s not easy running a business. Studies into SME sustainability show high failure rates, particularly in the first five years.

But it’s even harder when you’re battling to operate without a reliable energy supply.

This is where Lulalend comes in. We provide fast business finance, right when you need it. Qualifying businesses get the funds 24 hours after they apply.

For business affected by load shedding, mention this when you apply, so your application will be fast-tracked via our load shedding task force.

If you’re ready to protect your business’s future, apply for business finance with Lulalend today.

How Refinancing Can Help Consolidate Your Business Debt

How Refinancing Can Help Consolidate Your Business Debt

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Do you want to take control of your finances at the start of the new year?

Like most businesses, you might be returning to normal operations after a quiet period in December.

Maybe you’re looking for small business funding to pay your suppliers now, while business picks up over the next few weeks.

This is exactly why more and more businesses just like yours look to refinance their debt at the start of a new year.

In this blog post, we cover refinancing, a step-by-step process to apply for refinancing, and a comparison of the main small business funding options.

If you’re in a rush, here’s a quick summary:

Refinancing involves taking new funding to consolidate your outstanding loans. Many businesses use refinancing for a boost in cash flow. You can apply for refinancing from Lulalend within minutes here.

Below, we’ll cover everything related to refinancing in detail.

A New Year Trend for Small Business Funding: The Rise in Refinancing

One of the biggest reasons South African businesses stop operating is a lack of finance, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2017/18.

It’s a sentiment compounded by study after study.

And that’s not even the worst of it.

All of the leading causes of SME failure can be traced back to cash flow, as stated by the 2015 SME Insights Report, prepared by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

“…from the view of SMEs, they start with too little capital, they collect debtors late, are subject to bad debts, overhead levels that are too high, and they are victims of the risks they haven’t identified. Effectively, a lack of financial planning and control are at the heart of many of their problems,” reads the report.

You recognise these as the challenges that come with building a business you love.

Here’s where refinancing your business debt can make all the difference.

At Lulalend, we conducted an analysis and found a trend: an increase in the number of businesses looking to refinance their debt in January.

Heidi Alson, Lulalend’s Business Funding Specialist, provided context to the data:

“Businesses start the new year and they want to reorganise their financial situation. We often see this renewed commitment to improving business finance at the start of a new year, and refinancing has an important role to play in that process.”

How does Refinancing Work for Small Business Funding

When you refinance your small business loans, your debt is consolidated, explained Alson.

So, for instance, if you have funding from another bank or financial institution, refinancing will cover all of that outstanding debt. Put another way, you are trading those multiple, existing loans for one loan. And that brings your financial obligations into a single place.

What is the Purpose of Refinancing for Small Business Funding?

For most businesses, refinancing helps organise debt and improve cash flow, said Alson.

“Many of our clients who refinance their debt in January benefit from better cash flow. There’s often a gap in getting paid by your customers during the holiday season. Refinancing tides you over, so you can pay your suppliers this month.”

(If you’re struggling with continual late payments, check our blog post for quick strategies to manage late payments.)

How to Determine if Your Business Needs Refinancing

Determining whether refinancing is the best fit for your business begins with gaining clarity on your financial goals.

“You might find there are other financing options that are better suited to your needs. This is where it becomes so important to choose the right lender. You’re looking for a partner and someone that can advise you, so you make a decision that’s truly in your best interest,” said Alson.

For instance, Lulalend also offers a credit facility. And that’s becoming a popular option for business owners who need a line of credit that’s available if they need it, without the need to reapply for finance.

Step-by-Step Process for Refinancing your Business Loans

To prepare for refinancing your business debt, keep these steps in mind to guide the process along faster.

  • Determine the Goal for Refinancing your Business Loan

As part of your refinancing strategy, consider your objectives.

Do you want to consolidate your debt? Do you want access to cash flow?

Deciding on the goal for refinancing will help you make the best choice.

  • Take stock of your financial situation

Review your financial obligations.

When you conduct this financial audit, pull together a list of your current debts and the amount owed on outstanding loans.

  • Gather your Financial Statements

During that audit, you’ll have gathered some of your financial statements. Hold onto these.

For your refinancing application, you’ll need to submit your financial statements.

  • Choose a Lender

There are tons of refinancing options available to you. But not all of those will be right for your business. We’ve discussed the criteria to consider in the next section.

Some funders will charge application, appraisal, and early settlement costs. Keep a close eye on these amounts: they add up…fast.

  • Apply

The application process depends on the institution. Lulalend, for instance, offers a quick, easy online application. Our scoring technology means we can do a fast assessment on your business, so we can give you a decision within hours.

How to Choose a Lender to Refinance Your Business Funding

Once you’ve concluded your business will benefit from refinancing, assess the available options.

There are two main funders that refinance small business debt:

  • Banks
  • Alternative funders, like Lulalend

How do they compare? And what’s the best option to refinance your small business loan?

We’ve put together the criteria to keep in mind when selecting a refinancing lender.

Approval Times

Getting approval from a traditional lender is a tedious process. Typically, it can take up to six weeks for banks to make a decision.

In contrast, Lulalend offers easy online applications. There’s no paperwork required. Apply within minutes and get cash in your account 24 hours later.

Settlement Costs

Monitor settlement costs: banks will impose high prepayment penalties on you. A funder like Lulalend won’t penalise you for settling your debt early.

Customer Service

The last thing you want when sorting out your financial situation is bad customer service. With some organisations, you’ll make call after call, ending up in a long line of customers.

Alson said small businesses should make accessible customer service a priority.

“When you’re on the hunt for a lender, look for a company that offers friendly, helpful customer service. Find a company that understands small businesses.”

Is Refinancing Your Small Business Loan Right for You?

Refinancing can help you declutter your business financial situation. It can help set you on a path to organising your finances. It can chart the way to a better financial future for your business.

Secure your business future, stop stressing about your finances, and apply here for a quote today.