SBA Unveils Updated Equity Action Plan to Advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s Commitment to Investing in Equity

Advertisement

Updates Focus on Providing Access to Capital and Entrepreneurial Support Services, Creating Economic Opportunities, and Advancing our National Economy

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today,  Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for America’s more than 33 million small businesses and startups, announced the SBA’s updated 2023 Equity Action Plan outlining actionable steps the agency will take to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in equity, including expanding access to capital and revenue growth opportunities; tailoring business counseling, training, and other services; and increasing access to disaster assistance for underserved communities.

“Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the face of entrepreneurship is changing as Americans from traditionally underserved and underrepresented communities start businesses at record rates,” said Administrator Guzman. “The SBA’s updated Equity Action Plan recognizes the tremendous value that diverse entrepreneurs bring to our economy in terms of job creation, innovation, and domestic and international competition. As America continues to enjoy an unprecedented Small Business Boom, the SBA remains determined in its efforts to boost entrepreneurship among people of color, women, veterans, and those from rural communities, and this updated Equity Action Plan is a testament to that commitment.”

Advertisement

This Equity Action Plan aligns with the Executive Order that President Biden signed on his first day in office, requiring every federal agency to conduct comprehensive assessments of their programs, policies, and practices to ensure that they equitably serve all communities and individuals – especially those historically underserved.

The SBA identifies underserved communities as those populations and geographic communities systematically denied the opportunity to participate fully in aspects of economic, social, and civic life. Some SBA programs utilize a specific definition for underserved communities and/or disadvantaged small businesses as outlined in program statutes and regulations.

The 2023 Equity Action Plan outlines the following strategies:

  • Improve Access to Loan Capital by enrolling new lenders with a capacity to reach underserved markets, using SBA’s simplified lending rules to increase existing lenders’ participation, and proposing a new policy that encourages more lending to justice-involved entrepreneurs.
  • Improve Access to Federal Government Procurement and Contracting Opportunities by leveraging resources to support Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) and working with federal agencies to advocate for and identify more contracting opportunities for SDBs.
  • Improve Access to Disaster Assistance by modernizing technology, streamlining the application process, and increasing support for underserved disaster survivors navigating the application process.
  • Improve Access to Business Counseling, Training, and Services by tailoring outreach, training, and educational resources to the specific needs of underserved communities.
  • Improve Access to Investment Capital by implementing new rules for the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program that increase diversity among participating fund managers, which can lead to more investment capital deployed to underserved entrepreneurs.

The SBA’s regular engagement with the small business community and its stakeholders helped inform the Equity Action Plan. Through its nationwide network of field and program offices, the SBA communicates directly with entrepreneurs via activities such as training events, small business coaching sessions, office hour calls, and the regulation and policy notification process. SBA also gains insights from Resource Partners, small business trade associations, chambers of commerce, and other entities similarly focused on aiding small business growth.

In addition to this plan, the SBA also highlighted the updates and accomplishments of the first Equity Action Plan, which included:

  • Creating a new type of Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) called Community Advantage Small Business Lending Companies (CA SBLCs), which provided for the conversion of Community Advantage Pilot lenders to fully licensed CA SBLCs with permanent 7(a) lending authority.
    • From FY22 to FY23, Community Advantage lending to underserved borrowers increased by 11% by total loan count and 23% by total loan dollars.
  • Opening a new window for new applications for SBLC licenses until July 31, 2023. The new SBLCs will help target critical market gaps in SBA lending to underserved small businesses.
  • Creating the SBIC Growth and Diversification Rule, which encouraged expanded participation by a more diverse range of fund managers across the nation by establishing a new fund-of-funds license, aligning terms to fit with patient and growth strategies, enabling smaller-sized funds to receive support, and simplifying and streamlining licensing rules.
    • In FY22, SBA’s efforts led to SBIC financing to women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses increasing by 29%.
  • Negotiating contracting goals with all 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies to drive more federal dollars to SDB owners. These goals were set to meet the FY 2022 interim goal of 11% of contract awards to SDBs as a milestone toward 15% by FY25.
    • Dollars earned by SDBs increased from $62.4 billion in FY21 to a record $69.9 billion in FY22.
    • The number of federal government procurement and contracting opportunities reserved for small businesses increased from $89.5 billion in FY21 to $99.5 billion in FY22.
  • Launching the 8(a) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Pool, in partnership with the General Services Administration (GSA), to increase 8(a) Program participants’ opportunities within the GSA’s MAS Program.
  • Rolling out new electronic tools to identify qualified businesses and measure the health of the industrial base with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), including the Small Business Data HUB and GSA’s Resources and Tools to Advance Equity in Procurement.
  • Enrolling more SDBs into SBA’s business development and contracting programs.
    • The number of SDBs that received a government contract increased to 23,260 in FY22.
  • Maximizing application education and assistance for the 8(a) Business Development program.
    • In FY22, 542 new 8(a) firms were certified.
  • Completing the Disaster Loan Program Modifications Rule to increase the maximum allowable disaster loan amount to ensure the amount of disaster assistance is sufficient to help disaster victims complete a full recovery.
  • Implementing the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act to increase the accessibility of disaster assistance for rural communities.
  • Leveraging the new “Whole-of-SBA Approach” to foster an extensive network of partnerships to conduct deliberate customer service campaigns earlier in the disaster response cycle and optimize recovery resource delivery.
  • Creating the SBA’s new Portable Loan Outreach Center (PLOC) initiative to provide support to underserved disaster survivors who might not otherwise have access to SBA assistance.
    • In FY23, several rural areas were served by PLOCs. For example, in Mississippi, 352 business contacts had 72 successful loan applications; in Florida, 248 contacts led to 132 accepted applications.
  • Allocating nearly $45 million (32%) of funding to Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) is now associated with investments at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
  • Selecting five new Women Business Centers (WBCs) in 2022 to be operated at established MSIs, while 60% of WBCs are located in rural communities.
  • Creating the Tribal College Small Business Achievement grant to support Native American economic development.
  • Expanding the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program by six centers (up to 28) and hosting a Military Spouse Entrepreneur Virtual Summit.
  • Hosting outreach events with various federal agencies, including the new Path to Prosperity series, that served over 3,300 attendees from mostly rural areas.
  • Signing Strategic Alliance Memorandums (SAM) with the American Jewish Committee to combat antisemitism. SAMs were also signed with the National Pan Hellenic Council to promote SBA programs and services to Black entrepreneurs and with Operation HOPE to provide financial literacy and resources for their efforts to create one million Black businesses.

Read the complete SBA Equity Action Plan here.  

Read the White House Fact Sheet on the government-wide Equity Action Plans here.

To learn more about government-wide equity efforts, click here

###

About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

CONTACT: Christine Saah Nazer U.S. Small Business Administration [email protected] 

Disclaimer: The above press release comes to you under an arrangement with GlobeNewswire. AfternoonHeadlines.com takes no editorial responsibility for the same.