SBA Expands Community Advantage Pilot Program to Provide Funding to Underserved Entrepreneurs

Impactful reforms to the SBA’s Community Advantage loan program have been announced by Vice President Kamala Harris and Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.

SBA Expands Community Advantage Pilot Program to Provide Funding to Underserved Entrepreneurs

The loan program is a key tool for Community Development Financial Institutions, Community Development Companies, microlenders and other critical mission-based lending partners. It prioritizes equitable access to capital for low-income borrowers and those from underserved communities.

Community Advantage Reforms Lauded

The reforms have been lauded by around 100 organizations, including small business community allies, stakeholders, leaders and industry experts. The reforms also drew praise from congressional members.

Among the multiple reforms listed in the official SBA press release is an extension to the pilot program until September in 2024. It was originally going to end this year, but will now continue for a further two years. The SBA has also removed the restrictions that prevent individuals with criminal backgrounds from accessing the Community Advantage program.

Reforms to ‘Build on Momentum’

The head of the SBA, Administrator Guzman, said of the reforms: “America’s mission-driven lenders have been a critical partner to the SBA in getting much-needed financial relief to underserved businesses throughout the COVID pandemic. Scaling the SBA’s Community Advantage pilot program will help us build on that momentum, create a broader distribution network and better ensure the opportunities of our nation’s accelerating recovery are accessible to more entrepreneurs pursuing their American dreams of starting and growing a successful business.

“The Community Advantage pilot expansion and reforms reflect the central role that President Biden and Vice President Harris have given to building equity across this Administration and removing historic inequities and barriers that have limited economic growth for all. My thanks to Vice President Harris, a longtime champion for Community Development Financial Institutions and other mission-driven lenders, for supporting this important change and helping to improve access to capital for more American entrepreneurs.”

Small Business Leaders Respond

Many small business leaders and local organizations responded positively to the reforms. One such, the president and CEO at Small Business Majority, John Arensmeyer, described the value of the loan program, saying: “The Community Advantage Pilot Program is a vital resource that has helped mission-driven lenders provide more capital to underserved entrepreneurs, particularly those owned by women and people of color.

“These loans allow small business owners the flexibility in capital they need to sustain their operations, including covering payroll, making business improvements, buying supplies, and hiring employees.  While many small businesses are still struggling to recover from the pandemic, now is the time to take the next step to extend and expand this critical program to support entrepreneurs who need it most.”

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This article, “SBA Expands Community Advantage Pilot Program to Provide Funding to Underserved Entrepreneurs” was first published on Small Business Trends