Next Step Loan


Do you want to start or expand a business?

The Next Step Loan could help!


The Next Step Loan Fund is a low interest micro loan program created to help small business owners in Cumberland County start or expand their business, offering a “next step” to a more secure, economically independent life.

The Next Step Loan Fund was established by The Opportunity Alliance through a gift from the former Portland Young Women’s Christian Academy (YWCA). Next Step Loans honor the YWCA’s legacy of empowering women, eliminating racism and promoting social justice.

Through these loans, The Opportunity Alliance seeks to promote self-reliance, innovation and business development. We encourage applicants to look for opportunities for cooperation and leverage with other community resources, including other grant or loan programs.

Quick Facts:

The Next Step Loan Committee will consider each application and loan term on its own merits but the generally expected guidelines are as follows:

Type of activity: Business enterprise in Cumberland County, Maine
Amount of loan:  range of $500 – $5,000
Term of loan: short term (several months) to several years
Repayment:  monthly or quarterly interest; term loan
Interest rate: fixed, currently 4%


See if you qualify!*

You will need to complete the loan application to begin the process.  It may be submitted by email or sent by mail.

The application asks for copies of specific documents to accompany your submission.  You will need to send these as attachments to your emailed application, or have hard copies included, if you choose to mail.

You can mail your application to:

The Opportunity Alliance
Next Step Loan Committee
50 Lydia Lane
South Portland ME 04106

*TOA employees and their immediate families are not eligible for the Next Step Loan.


Selected applicants will be contacted by the Loan Committee to discuss their business plan. The loan will be available after loan terms are agreed to, and a promissory note has been signed.

Approved applications will be subject to a $50 processing fee.



Call Christine Stelling, SVP of Development and Communications: 207-523-5030

or email:


Next Step Loan Application

Download the loan application here.  You can mail the completed application or email a scanned copy with requested attachments to:

The Opportunity Alliance
Next Step Loan Committee
50 Lydia Lane
South Portland ME 04106



Business Assistance Programs

Free business counseling services for entrepreneurs and small businesses:

Small Business Development Center

John Entwistle, Director
501 Forest Avenue
Portland, Maine

Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community
Gigi Guyton
Microenterprise Coordinator
175 Main St.
South Portland, ME 04106

The Women’s Business Center at CEI: Southern Maine
Sarah Guerette, Director and Business Advisor
2 Portland Fish Pier, Suite 201
Portland, ME  04101

John Scribner, Director
2 Portland Fish Pier, Suite 201
Portland, ME 04101

Nancy Strojny, Chapter Chair
100 Middle Street, 2nd Floor
Portland, ME  04101




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