My parents emigrated from China, to Mexico, to the U.S. They started a restaurant in Arizona where I worked when I was growing up. So, I come from a small-business family, and I consider it to be a great privilege and responsibility to serve as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Over the past two years, I have met many small business owners throughout America’s AAPI communities. Some have received help from the SBA when they needed a business loan, or one-on-one business counseling, or information about how to compete for federal contracts.
Cecilia Mata, a fellow Chinese-American from Arizona, is a great example. She started AllSource Global Management in 2005 and – with the help of the SBA’s Arizona District Office and our 8(a) business development program – has grown AllSource Global to employ hundreds of workers with projects in five states.
This Administration understands the needs of small businesses like hers. That’s why the Recovery Act and the Small Business Jobs Act contained key provisions that helped thousands of small businesses, including those owned by Asian-Americans.
For example, we strengthened SBA lending at a time when traditional bank lending was frozen. As a result, the SBA was able to step in where the market wasn’t working. Altogether, we helped provide Asian-American-owned businesses with billions of dollars in lending support during that critical time. Today, the SBA continues to reach out to underserved communities with new loan initiatives that are targeted at reaching those who have been hard-hit by the recession, including small business owners who need smaller loans under $250,000.
And, for businesses like Cecilia’s, we’re working to make sure that small businesses have more opportunities and are treated more fairly in the federal contracting arena.
So, when my family asks me what I do and why I’m proud to work for this Administration, I tell them about these important steps that we’re taking to foster small business growth and to strengthen local economies in the AAPI community.
If you or someone you know is interested in starting or growing a small business, go to www.sba.gov/direct where you can quickly get connected to an SBA staffer or counseling partner in your community. We’re ready to help in whatever way we can.
Have a great AAPI Heritage Month, everyone!
Ana Ma is Chief of Staff at the U.S. Small Business Administration.