Loans of up to $50,000, for items relating to product development, commercialization, or business strategy.
Up to $50,000, although the actual funding amount is usually less
2-year loan, repaid at the end of the term, with 12% interest; see the loan document
Pre-Seed Fund microloan: For pre-revenue companies still developing their product
Ann Arbor Fund microloan: For companies in the City of Ann Arbor with a product near commercialization, or that are ready to ramp up sales
Eastern Washtenaw County Fund microloan: For companies in Eastern Washtenaw with a product close to commercialization, ready to ramp up sales
Use of funds
Expenses that support product development (Pre-Seed Fund) or commercialization (Ann Arbor or Eastern Washtenaw County Funds), including:
- Scaling product manufacturing and testing
- Marketing and sales
- Customer attraction
- Beta product prototyping
Pre-Seed Fund microloan: Business location anywhere in Michigan. If outside Washtenaw County, contact your local SmartZone or business incubator.
Ann Arbor Fund microloan: Companies within Ann Arbor city limits
Eastern Washtenaw County Fund microloan: Washtenaw County, east of US Highway 23
Criteria for all Startups
Industry – Technology-driven company, especially with defensible intellectual property.
Start-Up/Pre-Seed Stage – Pre-revenue and no outside investment received yet.
Presence in Michigan – Company is registered with the State of Michigan, and at least half of employees physically work in the location specified in the funding type.
Follow-up -- Company is required to report quarterly while loan is outstanding, and respond to an annual survey for five years.
how to apply
- If your business is within Washtenaw County, submit your application on SPARK’s website; if your business is located outside of Washtenaw County, contact your local SmartZone
- Email the following materials to email@example.com:
- Business plan or executive summary (5-10 pgs); you can use our template or score sheet for guidance; include how you will use your microloan funds
- Pro-forma financials, for a 3-5 year forecast, including cash flow statement, income statement and current balance sheet
- Bios, resumes, or CVs of all founders, 1-2 pages per person
- A SPARK employee will contact you within 2-3 days to determine which program is the right fit
- A SPARK employee will work with you to revise your materials as needed
After first meeting with a SPARK employee, it can take a few weeks to submit a completed application, depending on the amount of revisions needed in the business plan and proposal.
After the application is submitted, it may take several weeks for the external committee to review the application.
Before signing a loan, we will complete a background check on all founders.
If you are turned down for a microloan, you may only reapply once with the same business idea. You must submit a revised business plan and a response to the feedback you received on your first application.
microloans available outside of spark
First Step Fund
The First Step Fund provides loans, mentoring, and networking to emerging and newly formed small businesses in Southeast Michigan. Startups must have successfully completed a training program through a qualified regional business incubator/accelerator. The program is a partnership of Invest Detroit Foundation, TechTown, Automation Alley, and Ann Arbor SPARK. The intent of the First Step Fund is to promote economic development by providing loans to early stage, commercially viable businesses, creating jobs and increased tax revenue for the region.
What microloans are available? In this video Skip Simms, Senior Vice President of Ann Arbor SPARK, walks through the different types of microloans that are administered by SPARK, and how they can help commercialize your company.