Access to Capital

Capital Access for Small Businesses


Microbusinesses power the nation's economy by supporting jobs for more than 41 million Americans. However, these Main Street businesses are struggling to access the financing they need to start and grow. In fact, America’s small businesses are facing a $52 billion capital gap. AEO’s primary mission is to create opportunity for underserved entrepreneurs by ensuring that they are able to satisfy their capital needs. Many options exist for borrowers outside of traditional banks, but connecting borrowers with these resources remains a challenge. 


The Microloan program provides loans to qualified non-profit intermediary lenders who, in turn, provide small-dollar loans and technical assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs. In FY16, for example, the Microloan Program supported nearly 4,500 microloans totaling $60.8 million to small businesses.  

The “Microloan Modernization Act of 2017,” introduced by Senator Deb Fischer(R- NE) of Nebraska, lifts the microloan intermediary caps from $5 to $6 million and eliminates the 25 percent pre-loan and 75 percent post-loan technical assistance requirements. This bipartisan legislation will give loan intermediaries more flexibility to design support services that address the specific needs of borrowers, and help get more borrowers loan ready. 

The House companion bill, H.R. 2056, introduced in the House by Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), passed in the House Small Business Committee in June, but with an amendment changing 75 percent to 50 percent.  


The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) is a program that awards grants to non-profit organizations that provide disadvantaged entrepreneurs with the training, education and technical assistance needed to gain access to capital and establish or expand their small businesses.  

CDFI Fund 

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are private financial institutions that are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities. The CDFI Fund, housed in the Department of the Treasury, supports 1,000 lenders (CDFIs) in the most distressed areas of the country. 

Community Advantage 7(a) Loan Program  

The Small Business Administration (SBA) Community Advantage is a loan program intended to meet the credit, management and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets. Community Advantage provides 7(a) loan guaranties for loans of $250,000 or less to mission-oriented non-profit financial intermediaries focused on economic development. These innovative programs represent a potentially game-changing opportunity to increase access to credit for underserved entrepreneurs. The program reflects broader changes underway within the SBA and across related government agencies.