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The SBA offers numerous loan programs to assist small businesses.  It is important to note, however, that the SBA is primarily a guarantor of loans made by private and other institutions.

PROGRAM:  Basic 7(a) Loan Guaranty

FUNCTION:  Serves as the SBA’s primary business loan program to help qualified small businesses obtain financing when they might not be eligible for business loans through normal lending channels. It is also the agency’s most flexible business loan program, since financing under this program can be guaranteed for a variety of general business purposes.  

Loan proceeds can be used for most sound business purposes including working capital, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, land and building (including purchase, renovation and new construction), leasehold improvements, and debt refinancing (under special conditions). Loan maturity is up to 10 years for working capital and generally up to 25 years for fixed assets. 

CUSTOMER:  Start-up and existing small businesses, commercial lending institutions

DELIVERED THROUGH:  Commercial lending institutions

SBA offers multiple variations of the basic 7(a) loan program to accommodate targeted needs.

 PROGRAM:  Certified Development Company (CDC), a 504 Loan Program

FUNCTION:  Provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to small businesses to acquire real estate or machinery or equipment for expansion or modernization. Typically a 504 project includes a loan secured from a private-sector lender with a senior lien, a loan secured from a CDC (funded by a 100 percent SBA-guaranteed debenture) with a junior lien covering up to 40 percent of the total cost, and a contribution of at least 10 percent equity from the borrower.  

CUSTOMER:  Small businesses requiring “brick and mortar” financing

DELIVERED THROUGH:  Certified development companies (private, nonprofit

corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of their communities or regions)

PROGRAM:  Microloan, a 7(m) Loan Program

FUNCTION:  Provides short-term loans of up to $35,000 to small businesses and not-for-profit child-care centers for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and/or equipment. Proceeds cannot be used to pay existing debts or to purchase real estate. The SBA makes or guarantees a loan to an intermediary, who in turn, makes the microloan to the applicant. These organizations also provide management and technical assistance. The loans are not guaranteed by the SBA. The microloan program is available in selected locations in most states.  

CUSTOMER:  Small businesses and not-for-profit child-care centers needing small-scale financing and technical assistance for start-up or expansion

DELIVERED THROUGH:  Specially designated intermediary lenders (nonprofit organizations with experience in lending and in technical assistance)

PROGRAM:  Loan Prequalification

FUNCTION:  Allows business applicants to have their loan applications for $250,000 or less analyzed and potentially sanctioned by the SBA before they are taken to lenders for consideration. The program focuses on the applicant’s character, credit, experience and reliability rather than assets. An SBA-designated intermediary works with the business owner to review and strengthen the loan application. The review is based on key financial ratios, credit and business history, and the loan-request terms. The program is administered by the SBA’s Office of Field Operations and SBA district offices. 

CUSTOMER:  Designated small businesses

DELIVERED THROUGH:  Intermediaries operating in specific geographic areas.


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