The U.S. Small Business Administration oversees several financing options for small businesses, including loans, surety bonds, investment partnerships, and disaster relief programs.
SBA loans are partially funded through the federal government and offered through partners, typically banks or credit unions. The SBA’s Lender Match Tool helps borrowers find SBA partners in their region.
A borrower applies for an SBA loan through a lender, who in turn applies for a loan guarantee from the SBA. The process helps reduce risk to the lender while allowing borrowers to access a loan with competitive rates, low fees, and a long term that facilitates more affordable monthly payments.
The eligibility requirements of applying for an SBA loan are similar to those of applying for a traditional bank loan. Lenders typically want the borrower to have a business record of at least two years, a reliable revenue stream, and a credit score of 680 or higher. Borrowers must also provide the necessary documentation, including financial statements and business licenses.
- 7(a) loans: Up to $5 million to eligible businesses to be used for working capital, debt refinancing, or inventory
- 504 loans: Up to $5 million for larger purchases, including land or building purchases, construction of new buildings, long-term equipment and machinery purchases, or the improvement and modernization of existing facilities, land, and infrastructure
- Microloans: Up to $50,000 that can be used for working capital, inventory, and equipment
The SBA licenses Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs), who invest in small businesses through debt and equity. The SBA matches investors’ funds at a 2-to-1 ratio, and maintains an SBIC directory for entrepreneurs to connect with investors.
Businesses in declared disaster areas can receive funds to help repair physical damages to a business or personal property and to mitigate lost revenue. A program is also available to help business owners with operating expenses to make up for military reservist employees who are called to active duty.
When a small business contracts with a client who requires that the project be properly bonded, the SBA can guarantee bonds for private surety companies to ensure that the businesses receive the work. The bonds help ensure full payment and full completion of the project.