SBA opens online matchmaking for small business loans

SBA opens online matchmaking for small business loans

The Small Business Administration is launching an online matching service to help small businesses “get a date with a lender.”

The service, called Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital or LINC, will enable small business entrepreneurs to fill out an online form with information that credit providers say they need to know prior to receiving a loan pitch.

Once completed, the information will be transmitted to participating SBA lenders in an applicant’s county, as well as to financial institutions with a statewide or national reach,” the SBA announced. Applicants will be notified within 48 hours in there is a match.

If LINC doesn’t produce an immediate match, entrepreneurs will be directed to a local SBA adviser for additional assistance with their loan application.

“There’s a hunger among entrepreneurs to find financing to get their business off the ground or take the next big step in their expansion plan,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet in remarks at the National Press Club.

“Technology can help us address this problem,” said Contreras-Sweet, who noted online matchmaking services pairing lenders with prospective borrowers are a multibillion dollar industry.

LINC will be rolled out in two phases, said Contreras-Sweet. First, SBA will connect small business owners with nonprofit lenders that offer free financial advice or specialize in microlending.

In a second step later this year, SBA plans to add traditional banks offering more financial products.

Ultimately the SBA believes LINC could be adapted to support federal government contracting by connecting eligible small businesses with procurement officers, prime contractors and federal buyers.

LINC is part of a broader effort to use electronic tools to support  small business development. This spring, Contreras-Sweet said, SBA will roll out SBA One,  which automates the 7a loan application. “It’s like Turbo Tax for small business lending,” she said, eliminating the need for faxes and paper forms.

Contreras-Sweet said the program and ones like it are focused particularly for millennials who have been brought up in the era of electronic services.

“No matter how old you are, one thing all business owners have in common is the need for capital,” she said. “In the case of millennials, who we know are under-banked, you need to meet them where they on financing. And where they are is online.

“The web helps them talk to their friends and find where to eat and shop. We want the web to help them find a lender, too. “

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