Since its founding, SBA has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions, and other forms of assistance to small businesses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) helps Americans start, grow, and build resilient businesses.
SBA was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns; preserve free competitive enterprise; and maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. SBA reviews Congressional legislation and testifies on behalf of small businesses. It assesses the impact of regulatory burden on small businesses.
Learn about SBA leaders and their commitment to help Americans start and grow businesses.
Find ways to contact us by phone and email, along with other avenues to guide you through our services.
Advisory committees are created by statute to provide advice and recommendations to SBA.
Learn how SBA initiatives help small businesses succeed and empower future leaders.
Learn about SBA’s plans, goals, and performance reporting.
Learn more about SBA events and celebrations throughout the year
What we do
SBA provides an array of financing for small businesses. Options range from the smallest needs in microlending to debt and equity investment capital.
SBA provides free counseling and low-cost training to new entrepreneurs and existing small businesses. Services are available in more 1,800 locations.
SBA sets goals with other federal departments and agencies to award 23% in prime contract dollars to small businesses.
SBA reviews Congressional legislation and testifies on behalf of small businesses. It assesses the impact of regulatory burden on small businesses.
History and role of SBA
Events leading up to the agency’s creation
SBA’s creation was largely a response to the pressures of the Great Depression and World War II. Read through to get a sense of how the agency’s mission took shape.
- 1932: The Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) is created by President Herbert Hoover to address the financial crisis of the Great Depression. The RFC is a federal lending program for all businesses, large and small, hurt by the Great Depression.
- 1942: Congress creates the Smaller War Plants Corporation (SWPC). The SWPC loans money to entrepreneurs and encourages financial institutions to extend credit available to small enterprises. The agency also advocates on behalf of small business to federal agencies and big businesses.
- 1945: WWII ends, and the SWPC is abolished. Its lending and contract powers are given over to the RFC. The U.S. Department of Commerce takes on some duties addressing small businesses. In the belief that a lack of information and expertise is the main cause of small business failure, the agency produces brochures and counsels individual entrepreneurs in management.
- 1950: The Korean War leads Congress to create the Small Defense Plants Administration (SDPA). SPDA is very similar to the SWPC, except that RFC keeps ultimate lending authority. SDPA evaluates small businesses and certifies them to the RFC if they judge the business can execute government contracts.
- 1952: Legislation marks an end to the RFC. All functions are transferred to the Department of the Treasury.
- 1953: President Dwight Eisenhower signs the Small Business Act into law on July 30, creating a new agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s mission is to "aid, counsel, assist and protect, insofar as is possible, the interests of small business concerns." It also is charged with ensuring that small businesses earn a "fair proportion" of government contracts and sales of surplus property.
SBA’s early days
By 1954, SBA is making and guaranteeing loans for small businesses. It loans money to victims of natural disasters and helps small businesses get government contracts. SBA also provides business owners with management and business training.
A 1957 Federal Reserve study finds that small businesses can’t get the credit they need to keep pace with technological advancements. The Investment Company Act of 1958 establishes the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program. Under SBIC, SBA licenses, regulates, and helps fund private venture capital investment firms. These firms provide long-term debt and equity investments to high-risk small businesses.
In 1964, SBA begins to attack poverty through the Equal Opportunity Loan (EOL) Program. EOL relaxes the credit and collateral requirements for applicants living below the poverty level. This provides encouragement to new businesses that had been unable to attract financial backing but were sound commercial initiatives.
SBA today and in the future
Since the agency was founded, SBA has expanded the help it provides. SBA's programs now include help with management, as well as financial and federal contract procurement. SBA provides specialized outreach to women, minorities, and armed forces veterans. SBA loans are available to victims of natural disasters. The agency also offers specialized advice and support in international trade.
SBA was created to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy. We remain committed to that goal. In our 2022-2026 strategic plan, SBA describes:
- How we will help ensure that our program delivery is equitable, customer-centric and supports small businesses and innovation
- Strategies for building resilient businesses and a sustainable economy
- A plan for managing its technology and human resources for greater impact
With its commitment to these goals, SBA is working to create a more equitable and sustainable economy supported by America’s small businesses.
Laws, policy, and regulations
Congress created SBA with the Small Business Act of July 30, 1953. It is periodically amended by Congress.
This act provides ways to invest in small business investment companies and certified development companies.
Standard operating procedures provide detailed rules for how certain activities are performed.
The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations has the Federal Register's general and permanent rules published by executive departments and agencies.
Significant guidance documents
If you have comments on significant guidance documents or would like to request that SBA issue, reconsider, modify, or rescind significant guidance documents, please email the comment/request to GoodGuidance@sba.gov. You may use the same email address to file complaints that SBA has not followed the bulletin's procedures in developing its guidance documents or is treating guidance as a binding requirement. When submitting a comment or complaint, please identify the guidance document you are addressing.
Because comments are available for public inspection, you should not include personal information such as Social Security numbers and birth dates.
The Administrator is the executive head of the agency. In 2012, it joined other agencies as part of the President’s Cabinet. Learn who led SBA under each administration since its founding.
|President Dwight D. Eisenhower||1. William D. Mitchell (8/01/53-10/30/53)
2. Wendell B. Barnes (2/09/54-11/21/59)
3. Philip McCallum (11/23/59-1/20/61)
|President John F. Kennedy||4. John E. Horne (2/02/61-8/07/63)|
|President Lyndon B. Johnson||5. Eugene P. Foley (8/08/63-9/10/65)
6. Bernard L. Boutin (5/19/66-7/31/67)
7. Robert C. Moot (8/01/67-7/31/68)
8. Howard J. Samuels (8/01/68-2/22/69)
|President Richard Nixon||9. Hilary J. Sandoval Jr. (3/05/69-1/01/71)
10. Thomas S. Kleppe (1/18/71-10/12/75)
|President Gerald Ford||*Thomas S. Kleppe (1/18/71-10/12/75)–*held over from Nixon Administration
11. Mitchell P. Kobelinski (2/12/76-3/04/77)
|President Jimmy Carter||12. A. Vernon Weaver (4/1/77-1/20/81)|
|President Ronald Reagan||13. Michael Cardenas (3/30/81-2/03/82)
14. James C. Sanders (3/29/82-3/31/86)
15. James Abdnor (3/23/87-4/20/89)
|President George Bush||16. Susan Engeleiter (4/20/89-3/27/91)
17. Patricia Saiki (3/27/91-1/20/93)
|President William Clinton||18. Erskine B. Bowles (5/12/93-10/6/94)
19. Philip Lader (10/8/94-2/11/97)
20. Aida Alvarez (3/7/97-1/20/01)
|President George W. Bush||21. Hector V. Barreto Jr. (7/25/01-7/2/06)
22. Steven C. Preston (7/10/06-6/5/08)
|President Barack H. Obama||23. Karen G. Mills (4/6/09-9/1/13)
24. Maria Contreras-Sweet (4/7/14-1/20/17)
|President Donald J. Trump||
25. Linda McMahon (2/15/17-4/12/19)
|President Joseph R. Biden||
27. Isabella Casillas Guzman (incumbent)
Additional laws and regulations
- Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR): Contains policies and procedures for acquisition by all federal agencies.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): Enforces the federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of an individual's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.
- U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy: Advances the views and concerns of small businesses before federal and state policymakers.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Ensures safe and healthful working conditions for workers.)
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Protects human health and the environment.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Forms, instructions and publications to keep businesses and individuals compliant with federal tax law.