WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Allies Praise Biden-Harris Administration Expansion of SBA’s Community Advantage Pilot Program Targeting Access to Capital for Underserved Entrepreneurs

Washington, March 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Wednesday, March 30, Vice President Kamala Harris and Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and voice for America’s 32.5 million small businesses in President Biden’s Cabinet, announced impactful reforms to the agency’s Community Advantage (CA) loan program, a key SBA tool for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Community Development Companies (CDCs), microlenders and other critical mission-based lending partners, that prioritizes equitable access to capital for low-income borrowers and those from underserved communities.  Nearly 100 organizations, including small business community allies, stakeholders, leaders and experts, as well as congressional members, lauded the reforms.

Read the press release announcing these impactful reforms to CA here.

See below for what they’re saying:

Local Organizations and Small Business Leaders

John Arensmeyer, President and CEO, Small Business Majority: “The Community Advantage Pilot Program is a vital resource that has helped mission-driven lenders provide more capital to underserved entrepreneurs, particularly those owned by women and people of color.  These loans allow small business owners the flexibility in capital they need to sustain their operations, including covering payroll, making business improvements, buying supplies, and hiring employees.  While many small businesses are still struggling to recover from the pandemic, now is the time to take the next step to extend and expand this critical program to support entrepreneurs who need it most.” 

James H. Bason, President and CEO, Tru Fund: “The SBA’s efforts to improve and expand access to capital for small businesses, including the adoption of the necessary program reforms to ensure greater equality for all entrepreneurs, is a Community Advantage. Access to capital is an economic imperative for job creation, building more vibrant and resilient communities.”

Marla Bilonick, President and CEO, NALCAB of the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders: “The Community Advantage Pilot Program (CA) is a lifeline for Latino small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in underserved markets. Through nonprofit financial intermediaries that have deep knowledge of their communities, CA provides the tools and support needed to be successful. NALCAB has been closely engaged with the SBA on changes to the CA program that will help even more of our nation’s innovators start a business, grow and create new jobs. We applaud these reforms and urge swift adoption.”

Ron Busby Sr., President and CEO, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc: “The US Black Chambers is proud to support the changes to the Community Advantage program, understanding that the program plays a critical role in connecting Black businesses to capital in their communities. CDFIs ensure that Black firms can access capital from institutions that look like them, live in their communities, and understand their local economies. Underscoring that access to capital is the primary barrier for Black businesses to grow and scale, we applaud the SBA and the White House for working with stakeholders to ensure that programs like Community Advantage can continue to adapt to meet the needs of today’s economy.”

Ellis Carr, President and CEO, Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance: “The SBA’s Community Advantage program has proven to be incredibly effective in ensuring that small business owners of color have access to the kind of capital that helps them build wealth and create economic mobility through locally-led solutions. The leadership shown by the Biden-Harris Administration and the SBA to expand this program will help mission-driven lenders touch even more lives and drive racial equity in underestimated communities nationwide.”

Gary Cunningham, President and CEO of Prosperity Now: “As champions for BIPOC and low-income communities, Prosperity Now is pleased to see the announced changes to the Community Advantage (CA) loan program made at the Small Business Administration. The Community Advantage program works directly with entrepreneurs in their communities, meeting them where they are to provide them with access to capital, resources, and business development opportunities that are traditionally less accessible for people of color and low-income communities. We are particularly pleased to see an increase in the capacity of this program, including the maximum loan size amount and the number of eligible lenders. While the CA program changes are long-awaited, they represent the first of many steps needed to help drive systemic change across the country – including the permanency of the CA program. Prosperity Now looks forward to continuing our work with the SBA and officials at the White House to continue to extend economic opportunity and prosperity for all.”

Connie E. Evans, President and CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity: “The Association for Enterprise Opportunity is proud to see these changes made at the SBA within the Community Advantage (CA) program. We have been longstanding champions of reform for CA lenders and borrowers and are honored to have worked alongside this Administration to incorporate these changes. These changes will enable the CA program to increase access to capital for underserved communities and communities of color. As longstanding champions of increasing capital access and entrepreneurial development for returning citizens, we are pleased to see the CA program formally target and extend capital to justice-involved individuals. We look forward to continuing this great work alongside our public and private partners and will continue to push for program permanency.”

Hilda Kennedy, Founder and President, AmPac Business Capital: “I have been involved on a number of committees, but I have never seen a regulatory body so committed to hearing the voices of the constituents with a timebound commitment to execute on what they heard.  I am utterly confident that these reforms in Community Advantage will have a game-changing impact on loans to underserved communities and specifically those communities that have had a 30-40% drop in SBA Lending - Black and Latino communities. The SBA Administrator came to Washington DC, not for pomp and circumstance, but to roll up her sleeves and work for small businesses, and she has delivered in just one year!”

Lenwood V. Long, Sr., President and CEO, African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs: “Although small businesses across the nation are beginning to recover from the massive disruption of the pandemic, they continue to face obstacles.  The expansion and much-needed changes to the Community Advantage Pilot program offer hope to small businesses that are rebuilding and reaching more businesses in need, especially Black-owned small businesses.  This expansion will help rebuild our nation's economy and take us one step closer to closing the racial wealth gap.”

Shaundell Newsome, Co-Chair, Small Business for America’s Future: “We are glad to join several other business organizations in supporting the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) proposed reforms to the Community Advantage Pilot Program — a program created to meet the credit, management, and business coaching needs of small businesses in underserved markets. These reforms would allow for inclusive access to capital for Main Street entrepreneurs. The Covid-19 pandemic spurred a number of challenges for our nation’s small businesses — especially those owned by women and people of color. Nonprofit mission-driven Community Advantage lenders, including Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), were a lifeline for entrepreneurs across the country, and the SBA’s proposed reforms would strengthen these mission-driven lenders’ ability to provide capital for small businesses. Access to capital for Main Street entrepreneurs is critical as small business owners recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and experience a new wave of interest in entrepreneurship. Our economy is seeing strong growth, but to maximize our recovery and support the recent surge of entrepreneurship, we must seize opportunities to enact policies that help our small business community, which creates two-thirds of all new jobs and employs half of all workers, succeed. The SBA’s proposed reforms would do just that.”

Jake Soberal, CEO & Co-Founder, Bitwise Industries: “The availability of accessible funding and willingness of lenders and investors to support people like the many rising entrepreneurs we work with are critical ingredients to advancing economic opportunity for the most underestimated in our country. The Community Advantage program can continue to help more businesses from underserved communities contribute to strengthening their communities, grow, and build wealth and opportunity where they have been lacking.”

Jesse Van Tol, President and CEO, National Community Reinvestment Coalition: “SBA's proposed updates to the Community Advantage Pilot Program are an important and timely move to expand access to credit for small businesses and to expand the reach and impact of the program. The program should be expanded to include mission-driven lenders such as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Community Development Corporations. The economic impacts of the pandemic were devastating for small businesses – especially businesses owned by women, people of color, and other business owners who have traditionally lacked access to capital. As our nation looks toward economic recovery, the SBA remains an important partner for diverse small businesses and the specialized lenders who serve them. Community Advantage is an underutilized tool that can help lenders provide more capital to underserved entrepreneurs.”


American Banker | SBA gives Community Advantage lending a shot in the arm: “The Small Business Administration is breathing new life into a struggling, 11-year-old pilot created to give low-income borrowers and those in underserved communities wider access to capital. The SBA announced Wednesday that it is extending Community Advantage, an Obama-era program that has approved more than 7,200 loans for $981 million since its inception in February 2011.”

Inc. Magazine | SBA Will Expand a Key Obama-Era Lending Program for Low-Income Business Owners

“Designed to meet the credit, management, and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets, the SBA's Community Advantage pilot loan program was originally set to expire in September 2022. After today's announcement, the program's new sunset date is September 30, 2024.”


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.


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