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Receiving a commercial loan from Steward - FAQs

Steward Team Updated by Steward Team

What types of agriculture businesses does Steward work with?

human-scale fruit & vegetable farms, livestock (animals, poultry, eggs, etc.), seafood & aquaculture, food & textile products, supply chain & food system infrastructure

Steward loans are currently available to agricultural businesses across the United States, except for those in California, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont. Steward's lending license is currently pending in these states and we hope to offer loans to farmers there soon (as well as future international markets)!

What types of projects does Steward fund?

Equipment, infrastructure, land, inventory, marketing, working capital.

What are the loan amounts that Steward offers?

Loans range from $10,000 to $10,000,000 (average loan ~ $50k, largest loan to-date $1.4m)

Does Steward have standard loan terms?

Each loan is tailored to fit the need of the agricultural business. The full loan term ranges from 36-60 months (sometimes longer) with interest rates ranching from 5%-10% depending on the purpose of the loan and the state of the business. 6%-8% is the most common, and all interest is passed on to lenders. Repayments typically begin 3-6 months after funds are disbursed. 

What fees are involved?

Steward charges a one-time 3% origination fee on every loan at the time the capital is dispersed. 

Additionally, it is important for borrowers to understand that this is a loan and not a donation. All capital must be repaid, plus interest based on the loan agreement signed by the borrower and Steward. Typical loan terms are 8% interest rate, 5-year (60 months) repayment, and 90 days deferral period before loan repayments begin. 

What types of commercial entities does Steward lend to? 

In order to be eligible for a Steward loan, businesses must be set up as one of the following types of businesses: limited liability company, partnership or corporation, and registered non-profits. 

What are Steward's primary lending criteria?

  • 3+ years farming experience (new operations with significant experience)
  • U.S. business in good standing
  • Incorporate regenerative and sustainable practices
  • Secured (collateralized by land, equipment, inventory, etc.)

Does Steward work with beginning farmers and other producers? 

In order to be eligible for a Steward loan, your project must be self-sustaining and meet our regenerative practices criteria. Additionally, Steward prioritizes agricultural businesses with at least $10,000 in annual revenue or applicants who have had at least 3 years of farm management experience. If you do not already have a functioning agricultural business, and you or a business partner have 3 years of farm management experience, you may still be considered for a loan if you have a thorough business and financial plan.

How are Steward loans structured? 

When a regenerative or sustainable farm is in need of capital, after meeting Steward’s initial requirements (noted above), we work together to determine loan size, terms, and how it will be secured--all based on the farm’s unique need. 

Once a loan agreement is signed, prospective borrowers partner with Steward to help raise the necessary funds on our lending platform. Together, Steward and the farm seek ​participation​ in the loan from appropriate lenders, allowing such individuals and organizations to buy a "piece" of a loan with Steward that supports your project--starting at $100. Once Steward raises the target funding amount, we issue the farm business a commercial loan and they're off to grow their business!

What types of documents and information will I need for the application process?

Here at Steward, we recognize that every farm business is different. That’s why our loan application process is designed to hear your story, understand your business situation, and determine if we can find a financial solution that can help you grow and expand your business--while ensuring you will be able to repay your loan. 

Throughout Steward’s review & approval process, we may request the following documents: 

  • Previous 3 years of tax returns
  • Business plan (if available)
  • Future projected revenue
  • Purchase commitments
  • Business registration documents
  • Other documentation that will help us assess the health of your farm business.

Remember, when applying to Steward you are applying for a commercial business loan. Be sure to have your farm finances in order and be ready to answer questions about your experience and plan to grow your business.

What does the process involve to receive a Steward loan?

  1. Apply: Complete the online loan application, telling us more about your business and financial needs.
  2. Approval: Work with the Steward team to confirm loan terms and plan for your raise campaign on Steward’s lending platform.
  3. Private Raise: Start by sending emails and making phone calls to invite qualified “anchor lenders” in your network to participate early in your campaign to build momentum.
  4. Public Raise: Once a campaign reaches a certain percentage funded (typically 20-25%), the raise is featured on Steward’s public website. Here we co-market the campaign with outreach to prospective lenders in your community, as well as Steward's national lender network.
  5. Receive Capital: After a successful raise, Steward will finalize its loan to your farm business by disbursing funds through our secure lending platform.
  6. Grow: Expand your business and share your success! Begin repaying your loan to  Steward starting 90 days* after the loan funds are received. At that point, Steward will automatically begin repayments to participating lenders in this project.

*NOTE: Loan terms can be revised to meet specific needs.

How long does it take to receive my Steward loan?

Once your project is approved by Steward, receiving your loan is dependent on Steward raising the capital by offering appropriate lenders the opportunity to buy “pieces” of a loan with Steward that helps support your project. The amount of time it takes to reach the funding goal depends on the size of your loan, a lender’s perceived quality of your business, and your involvement in the process to engage appropriate “anchor lenders” from your network. Once the target funding amount is raised and all funds are received by Steward, we proceed with issuing your loan funds in as little as 2-3 business days (typically through an ACH transfer to your designated checking account).

What is Steward's mission?

Steward's mission is to promote economic & environmental stewardship through regenerative agriculture. By financing the growth of these sustainable farm businesses directly, Steward strives to meet society’s growing food needs without compromising the planet’s ecosystems, ultimately having the following impacts:

  • Preserving natural resources & reducing environmental impacts
  • Improving soil health & increasing biodiversity
  • Increasing carbon sequestration linked to climate change
  • Protecting water quality and abundance
  • Promoting local jobs with fair, living wages
  • Increasing the number of diverse, under-represented producers

Why partner with Steward versus raising capital independently? 

Farm businesses choose to partner with Steward because our loan process is specifically designed to streamline getting farmers to access to the capital they need to grow. We facilitate raising capital so farmers don’t need to self-manage a private loan effort. The main benefits of partnering with Steward include: 

  • We are 100% focused on supporting the growth of regenerative agriculture by lending to sustainable farms, ranches, fisheries, and producers.
  • We handle all financial transactions safely & securely
  • We keep things simpler for the borrower by managing separate loan agreements  (Lenders >< Steward >< Farm Partner)
  • We manage all lender repayments over the course of the loan
  • We automatically send out any necessary tax return documents
  • And finally, we provide an opportunity for farms to be part of a broader community of like-minded agriculture businesses across the country

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FAQ Participated Loans - Borrowers