|Micro-businesses Get Help From SBA|
American business with five or fewer employees will now have access to training and technical assistance to help them start or grow under a new program funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
SBA Administrator Hector V. Barreto announced last week that SBA's popular and successful PRIME program - Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs - has been expanded to make funds available to community-based, regional and national organizations that in turn will offer training and technical assistance to low-income and very low-income entrepreneurs with small businesses of five employees or less.
"The PRIME program was created to help the smallest of small businesses. These are entrepreneurs at the most basic stage of starting a business and who typically require the greatest amount of committed service and guidance," stated Barreto in an SBA press release. "In order to succeed, they require training and technical assistance that must be accessible."
While the U.S. Department of Commerce has estimated that more than two million businesses in the United States are operated by low-income and very low-income entrepreneurs, other studies indicate that only a mere fraction of this population receives business assistance. The major focus of the PRIME program is business-based assistance to precisely these low-income and very low-income entrepreneurs who lack sufficient training and education to gain access to capital to establish and expand their own small businesses.
The SBA has selected 69 organizations in 28 states to provide this service (see attached list). During this inaugural year of the PRIME program, SBA is focusing on economically distressed areas.
Also under the PRIME program, the SBA provided 15 grants to improve the delivery of services to very small businesses by organizations that provide training and technical assistance. Two other organizations received funding to conduct research and development on how to improve these services.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners who may qualify to receive training or technical assistance under the PRIME program should contact a local SBA district office listed at www.sba.gov/services.
With a portfolio of business loans, loan guarantees and disaster loans worth more than $45 billion, SBA is the nation's largest single financial backer of small businesses. Last year, the SBA offered management and technical assistance to more than one million small business owners.
America's 25 million small businesses employ more than 50 percent of the private work force, generate more than half of the nation's gross domestic product, and are the principal source of new jobs in the U.S. economy.