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Expanding Our Reach to Underserved Small Businesses

Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the US Small Business Administration (SBA), reflects on a meeting of minority women business leaders at the White House and discusses SBA's commitment to supporting underserved communities.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with a small group of minority women business leaders at the White House.   We discussed the President’s job creation initiatives and talked about how we can work together to support America’s small businesses—especially companies located in historically underserved communities.

At the SBA, I am focused on identifying and reaching small businesses in our underserved communities, including those owned by women and minorities.  The fact is that these companies are some of the fastest growing businesses in America.  For instance, African American-owned firms are growing at three times the rate of business overall.  And they are doing this despite the many roadblocks they face in accessing the tools they need to compete and thrive. 

While the SBA is committed to helping all small businesses meet these challenges, we are particularly focused on assisting companies in underserved communities.  That is why we launched two new initiatives, Small Loan Advantage and Community Advantage, which help get lower dollar loans into the hands of small business owners.  Often, a small business does not need a $1 million or $2 million loan.  They simply need $50,000 to buy new equipment, or $100,000 to renovate a building.  This is especially true in underserved communities, where it is increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs to access capital.  These new initiatives make it easier and more cost-effective for our lending partners to make these important loans.

Another way we are connecting with underserved markets is through our Advisory Council on Underserved Communities.  I am excited to be working closely with Cathy Hughes, the founder of Radio One, Inc., and a former SBA borrower, who is serving as the Council’s chairperson.  Under Ms. Hughes’ leadership, the Council will provide feedback and advice on how the Agency can expand our reach to the businesses that need it most.  The Council will hold its first meeting in a few months, and we will definitely want to hear from you. 

The SBA helps small businesses get the tools they need, and that means that small businesses in underserved communities can turn to us for support.  The President and all of us throughout the Administration are committed to getting those tools into the hands the small businesses that are growing and creating the jobs America needs to win the future.