Aboriginal and Indigenous Business Loans

Find out more about the available options for financing your Indigenous business and compare offers with Savvy.

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, updated on September 21st, 2023       

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Before you start the process of applying for financing for your business, it's important to have a clear understanding of what your options are for receiving funds, both from business financiers and government agencies. You can compare and consider loan offers from Savvy's reputable Australian lending partners here.

What loans are available to Aboriginal and Indigenous businesses?

There are a wide variety of both loans and lenders available to support Aboriginal and Indigenous businesses. Some of these are standard loans available to anyone, such as secured and unsecured business loans, equipment finance, business credit, and invoice financing. Others are dedicated business loans specifically established to support First Nations communities, such as an IBA producer loan or startup finance package.

Lenders range from the big banks right though to smaller online lenders and other alternative lenders. There’s no restriction on what types of loan an Aboriginal and Indigenous business can access. While larger lenders like banks are able to offer finance to businesses, online lenders are particularly valuable for remote regional communities, as there’s no need to deal directly with a branch. Online lenders operate entirely over the internet (and sometimes by phone), meaning all you need is a computer and an internet connection and you can get access to a loan to support your business. There are also a number of organisations set up with the specific goal of supporting Aboriginal and Indigenous businesses and First Nation communities, such as Indigenous Business Australia (IBA).

Savvy’s a useful place to begin if you’re looking for a business loan, as you can view a range of unsecured business loans from a variety of Australia’s top online lenders and compare your options to help you choose the best for your business. You may also want to gain an idea of the cost of different loans based on varying interest rates, terms and sizes, which you can do right here with Savvy with our business loan repayment calculator.

Is there other support I can get for an Aboriginal or Indigenous business?

There are various grants and other ways to get support for an Aboriginal or Indigenous business – either as an alternative to a business loan or in addition to one. Some of these are provided by the Australian government, while others are associated with other organisations with a focus on supporting First Nations communities.  Some examples of grants include Indigenous Business Australia's Business Development and Assistance Program and the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), run by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

The NIAA also offers additional information, training and business support, as do organisation such as the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) and IBA. IBA also has various specialised loans for Aboriginal or Indigenous business, including producer loans, business loans and their startup finance package.

It may also worth looking into the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), which is a general government scheme supporting Australians starting a new business. There’s no lump sum payment to support a business, but it provides a living allowance, support and training for new business owners. There are around 6,300 slots available nationally each year, however, so only a limited number of ventures are approved annually for support. There are also grants available to Australian female business owners, but you may find a business loan for women is a better option for your company.

The Australian Government actually maintains an online searchable database of available grants, which includes a number of options for Aboriginal or Indigenous businesses. You can utilise this tool to check which grants are available in your region.

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Common questions about Aboriginal & Indigenous business loans

If I'm doing a loan application over the internet, is my information secure?

For online lenders, information security is a core part of the business – they won’t stay in business long if they can’t keep people’s data safe. Most online lenders use high level encryption security on their websites, so any details you’re submitting over an online application are protected. The main risk is a third party tricking you into giving them your details – so be wary of unsolicited requests for sensitive information and contact your lender directly if you’re unsure. Also, be careful what you send over email – that's normally not encrypted. Ask your lender about security if you have any questions.

If I have an Aboriginal or Indigenous business which has seasonal cash flow, will that make it harder to get a loan?

It can make it harder, but not impossible – there are many lenders on the market who can work with unconventional types of income, including seasonal income. You should still be able to access a loan to support your business.

Can I still get a business loan for my Aboriginal or Indigenous business if I'm a sole trader?

Yes – sole traders are still regarded as perfectly legitimate businesses. If your business has a particularly small cash flow, that may limit your loan options a little, but the fact that you’re a sole trader in itself should have little to no impact on getting a small business loan.

What can I use the funds from a business loan for?

Business loans in Australia are flexible and the funds from a conventional business loan can be used from a wide variety of things – including upgrading equipment, leasing a premises, paying staff, or hosting an event. The money needs to be used specifically for business purposes (business finance and personal finance require different licences, so you can’t use one for the other), but other than that it’s up to you how the money is used. Government loans and grants might have additional requirements on how the funds can be spent, but will be explained on the relevant website.

Can a good business credit rating mean that I get better terms on a loan?

Yes – a good or bad credit rating can influence various things when applying for a loan: the interest rates you’re offered, the amount you can borrow and how easy it is to get approval. If your credit rating is particularly good, it gives you more borrowing power and afford access to much better interest rates.

How long does it take to apply online for a loan for my Aboriginal or Indigenous businesses?

Online lenders normally have very streamlined loan application processes, so the initial application might only take a few minutes (provided you have all your information ready to hand). Unsecured loans are a particularly quick and easy option for a business loan, and can generally be turned around (and have money in the bank) within one to two days of the initial application.

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