What is the Small Business Administration (SBA)?

The Small Business Administration, also known as the SBA, is a U.S. government agency tasked with providing assistance and support to small businesses across the country. Founded in 1953, the SBA’s activities are often summarized by using “three C’s” of capital, contracts and counseling. The SBA helps businesses get capital by guaranteeing loans, and in some cases, providing them directly, assists businesses with obtaining government contracts, and provides counseling in the form of training and support for small business owners working in a variety of different industries.

What are the Most Popular Loan Products Offered Through the SBA?

The most popular loans that the SBA guarantees are the SBA 7(a) loan, which provided nearly $26 billion in financing to lenders in 2017, and the SBA 504 loan program, which provided almost $10 billion to small business borrowers in that same year. Other popular loan types include the SBA CAPlines program, which provides a revolving line of credit for small businesses, and SBA Export Loans, which help U.S. businesses expand export operations and enter foreign markets. The SBA also offers SBA microloans, which provide loans to businesses of $50,000 or less, and SBA Disaster Loans, which are provided directly through the SBA (not a third-party lender), and are designed to help small businesses and families recover after natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.

Other SBA Programs for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

In addition to guaranteeing loans, the SBA also provides a variety of support programs for entrepreneurs across the U.S. These include:

  • Small Business Development Centers: The SBA helps fund around 900 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) across the U.S., which are often located at colleges and universities. SBDCs can help entrepreneurs work on their business plans, provide them assistance with manufacturing, financial advice, as well as help them apply for other SBA programs, like the SBA 8(a) Business Development program.

  • SCORE: The SBA’s SCORE program has developed into the America’s preeminent network of volunteer business mentors. Since 1964, SCORE has helped educated 10 million business owners via free workshops, seminars, coaching, and other educational programs.

  • Women’s Business Centers: Partially funded by the SBA, Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are intended to help women entrepreneurs start small businesses. While anyone can get assistance through a WBC, they are committed to focusing a large amount of their efforts on serving those that are economically or socially disadvantaged. There are 100 over WBCs across the country, and combined, they serve more than 100,000 female entrepreneurs each year.


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