SBA award acknowledges needed impact of microlending, FE’s commitment to program
June 29, 2021
FE Small Business Finance president and CEO Kurt Chilcott and COO Kim Buttemer visited Washington D.C. to accept the SBA microlender of the year award on behalf of the non-profit lending company. They’re flanking SBA Administrator Linda McMahon (second from the right) and joined by SBA Associate Administrator William Manger.
While the term microlending only became popularized within the past decade, FE Small Business Finance’s commitment to the concept of providing smaller loans to underserved entrepreneurs predates that.
In the early 90s, the non-profit organization created three affiliated corporations in Southern California to provide small loans not then available in the marketplace.
This experience led to FE Small Business Finance enrolling as a participant in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Microloan Program in 2001. As a result, FE was able to increase its impact within minority, women and low- to moderate-income communities.
“Microlending is a critical component of our mission to provide access to capital to all small businesses,” said Kurt Chilcott, FE’s president and chief executive. “We were doing microlending before there was a term for it, in order to meet critical capital needs for small business.”
FE Small Business Finance — an intermediary of the SBA microloan and other SBA products — was recently bestowed the SBA’s 2021 Jody C. Raskind Lender of the Year Award. The recognition is presented every year to a mission-focused lender that has gone above and beyond in helping small businesses get off the ground and grow.
Receiving the award “really validates a lot of the work we have been doing in this organization, especially over the last 25 years,” said Robert Villarreal, FE’s executive vice president. He’s also president of the Small Business Finance Fund, a FE affiliate and CDFI, or community development financial institution.
Award a nod to Raskind’s advocacy, legacy
Jody C. Raskind served as chief of the SBA’s microenterprise development division, founding the U.S. agency’s microloan program in 1992. Leaders in the community-lending industry revered her for her pioneering can-do attitude and devotion to disenfranchised small business entrepreneurs.
She died in September 2014, at age 60. Her obituary highlights her devotion to helping entrepreneurs succeed.
Here’s a snippet: “Jody was most proud of the efforts she and her team made to support individuals with low incomes, distressed communities, and minority populations of all sorts in achieving the American Dream.”
Chilcott, who worked closely with Raskind, described her as a problem solver, “always figuring out how to make the program work to the benefit of small businesses.”
Villarreal, who also knew Raskind personally, said “she was a true advocate” for the SBA Microloan Program and what it’s become today.
Starting in 2015, the SBA honored Raskind’s contributions to the mission-based lending industry by presenting an award in her name.
SBA Microloan Program’s widespread impact
Since its inception, the SBA Microloan Program’s impact has been anything but micro. Lenders in this program including FE Small Business Finance have provided $875 million in affordable microloans to small businesses nationwide. Its effect on economic development: the creation or preservation of 254,000 jobs.
Related: SBA microloan fuels San Diego restaurant patio expansion
The program has been an important slice of FE’s continuum of capital offerings. SBA microloans tend to be smaller in dollar size and have more flexibility than other products. You can get up to $50,000 in capital, and in fiscal 2021 the average SBA microloan nationwide was less than $14,000.
The program’s target clientele includes startups and younger companies led by women, minorities and military veterans. When it comes to financing, traditional lenders often overlook these groups due to risk level.
What sets microloan program apart
What makes the SBA microloan program unique? It not only provides financing but also free business coaching before, during and after the loan is issued.
FE has a dedicated business-advising department that offers borrowers pointers on improving credit, crafting business plans, and much more. Even post-funding, FE Small Business Finance sticks by them to ensure they’re successful as they continue to grow.
Over the years, the SBA Microloan Program has demonstrated “a great track record and remains very strong today,” said Villarreal. The number of intermediaries taking part in the program has increased to 150. And it has routinely received support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Are you a startup or minority business owner looking for affordable business capital? FE Small Business Finance offers several loan options for businesses of all stages. If you’re looking for a smaller-dollar loan, check out the SBA Microloan Program.
Not sure which loan is the right fit for you? Tell our loan experts about your business. They’ll work to match you with a financing plan that best suits you.
Let’s talk! Reach us at email@example.com or (619) 243-8667.
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