SBA Expands Pilot Community Benefit Program to Provide Financing Underserved Entrepreneurs


Vice President Kamala Harris and Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman have announced major reforms to the SBA’s Community Advantage lending program.

SBA Expands Pilot Community Benefit Program to Provide Financing Underserved Entrepreneurs

The loan program is an important tool for community development financial institutions, community development companies, microcredit providers and other critical mission-based lending partners. It prioritizes equal access to capital for low-income borrowers and people from disadvantaged communities.

Community benefit reforms praised

The reforms have been praised by about 100 organizations, including small business allies, stakeholders, leaders and industry experts. The reforms also received praise from congressmen.

One of the many reforms mentioned in the official SBA press release is an extension of the pilot program until September 2024. It was originally supposed to end this year, but will now run for another two years. The SBA has also removed restrictions that prevent individuals of criminal background from accessing the Community Advantage program.

Reforms to ‘build on momentum’

SBA chief administrator Guzman said of the reforms: “America’s mission-driven lenders have been a vital partner of the SBA in securing much-needed financial assistance to underserved businesses during the COVID pandemic. Scaling up the SBA’s Community Advantage pilot program will help us build on that momentum, build a broader distribution network, and better ensure that the opportunities of our nation’s accelerating recovery are accessible to more entrepreneurs using their U.S. pursuing dreams of starting and growing a successful business.

“Community Advantage’s pilot expansion and reforms reflect the pivotal role President Biden and Vice President Harris have given to building equality in this administration and removing historic inequalities and barriers that limit economic growth for all. My thanks go to Vice President Harris, a long-time champion for community development financial institutions and other mission-driven lenders, for supporting this important change and helping to improve access to capital for more American entrepreneurs.”

Small Business Leaders Respond

Many small business leaders and local organizations responded positively to the reforms. One, Small Business Majority president and CEO, John Arensmeyer, described the value of the loan program, saying, “The Community Advantage Pilot program is an essential resource that has helped mission-driven lenders provide more capital to underserved entrepreneurs, in especially those owned by women and people of color.

“These loans provide small business owners with the flexibility in capital they need to support their operations, including covering payroll, making business improvements, purchasing supplies, and hiring employees. While many small businesses still Struggling to recover from the pandemic, now is the time to take the next step to expand and expand this critical program to support entrepreneurs who need it most.”

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