Washington: U.S. Small Business Administration Community Advantage (CA) Pilot Program scored a major success as it recruited its 100th lender, surpassed $100 million in lending for fiscal year 2015, and reached more than $220 million since the program was created in 2011.
Accion East, headquartered in New York City, was named as the 100th approved CA lender. A community development financial institution and one of the most active participants in SBA’s Microloan Program, Accion East now has authority to make guaranteed loans under SBA’s flagship 7(a) program. .
New York District Director Beth Goldberg also praised the designation and pointed out that “the strength of the Community Advantage Program is that it allows mission lenders like Accion East the ability to better meet the financing needs of small business clients that grow and thrive beyond traditional microfinance levels.” Lenders participating in SBA’s Microloan Program are able to make loans up to $50,000; with Community Advantage, lenders can make SBA 7(a) guaranteed loans up to $250,000.
“Our decision to become a Community Advantage lender was motivated by our desire to grow our mission of empowering low-to-moderate income business owners with access to capital and advice. We learned that approximately one in five of our clients desires capital beyond a microloan, so the Community Advantage program achieves an important next step in their growth plans,” said Paul Quintero, CEO of Accion East, Inc.
Community Advantage started as a pilot loan program back in April, 2012 as part of an SBA initiative to help revive the nation’s stalled economy. The aim is to expand access to lower dollar loans and lending in traditionally underserved communities. Program participants are required to make at least 60 percent of CA loans in underserved markets. Since almost half of CA loans are for $100,000 or less, this requirement ensures that the program reaches a segment of the small business community that is often unable to secure financing from traditional bank lenders.
The 100 approved CA lenders come from 36 states and the District of Columbia, and serve more than 45 states and territories. Fifty-two of those lenders, like Accion East, also participate in SBA’s Microloan Program. To date, lenders that participate in both the Microloan and Community Advantage Programs have made more than $100 million in Community Advantage loans.
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