As the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes the continual need for startup capital among the nation’s SMEs, the government agency has just launched a new way for small businesses to access capital online within just two days.
Reports say SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet revealed late last week the new tool called LINC – Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital – in which SME owners fill out a 20-question form that allows the site to connect the entrepreneurs with appropriate potential lenders.
The venture is part of the SBA’s goals of connecting small business owners with the resources they need to succeed. “By directly connecting with prospective borrowers, the agency will be able to provide more guidance and ensure more capital is reaching our nation’s entrepreneurs,” Contreras-Sweet said. “There’s a hunger among entrepreneurs to find financing to get their businesses off the ground or take the next big step in their expansion plan. The SBA stands there ready to help them, now with a few simple clicks.”
After a borrow completes the online questionnaire, that form will be sent to every lender with reach to that company. Lenders then have 48 hours to respond, and are not required to commit to any lending or pay fees, report say.
According to SBA Region II Administrator Kellie LeDet, the LINC resource is easy to use for lenders, and beneficial to borrowers. “This option frees entrepreneurs from the limited choices they may have,” she said. “Using this technology will enhance a borrower’s position with lenders and provide them with alternative sources of finance.”
The LINC service will be rolled out in waves, LeDet said, and first begin business with nonprofit lenders that specialize in micro-lending, real estate financing, and Community Advantage program loans, another part of the SBA.
Eventually, reports say, the SBA will look to include traditional lenders and financial institutions to join LINC and connect with SMEs seeking capital.
“Across the country, thousands of small business owners pound the pavement every day looking for term loans, equipment financing, lines of credit, invoice financing, and real estate loans to help them hire and grow,” Contreras-Sweet said of the rising demand for capital among SMEs. “If you have a bankable business idea backed by good credit and sound financial planning, the SBA wants to streamline the process for you to get the capital you need.”
LINC currently includes more than 120 lenders operating across the US and Puerto Rico.