SBA Awards $75,000 PRIME Grant to El Paso Community Lender

SBA funds grant to Finance Training & Technical Assistance to Disadvantaged Entrepreneurs
Release Date: 
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Release Number: 
Savannah Wilburn, Public Information Officer | (915) 834-4601

EL PASO – PeopleFund, a non-profit organization headquartered in Austin, Texas, received a $75,000 PRIME grant to provide financial training and technical assistance to current or aspiring entrepreneurs. They are one of two certified development companies in El Paso that provide loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Advantage and Microloan programs. PeopleFund’s mission is to create economic opportunity and financial stability for underserved people by providing access to capital, education and resources to build healthy small businesses.

“This $75,000 PRIME Grant will provide a boost to El Paso, Texas through PeopleFund.” said Regional Administrator Yolanda Garcia Olivarez.  “SBA is already assisting entrepreneurs here by approving 135 loans in the El Paso District for over $48 million.  We know that when small businesses are created and grow, more jobs are established in the community.”

Thirty-seven community-based organizations across the United States that provide assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs are set to receive $5 million in grants from the SBA’s Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME).  These organizations help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.

“By training low-income and disadvantaged micro-entrepreneurs on how to grow their businesses, the PRIME Program provides tremendous opportunity to strengthen and revitalize communities,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “I am proud that this year’s PRIME program provides entrepreneurship pathways to individuals who have struggled to find employment after incarceration and helps them rebuild families and whole communities. PRIME complements the nearly $160 million approved this year through SBA’s mission-based lending programs.” 

This year’s 37 recipients come from 24 states, and the District of Columbia. The grants range from $75,000 to $230,000 and typically require at least 50 percent in matching funds or in-kind contributions.  In total, 135 organizations applied for PRIME awards.  

SBA placed special emphasis in this year’s competition on projects that will offer training and technical assistance to strengthen cooperative forms of business, particularly those that service economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs.  Five organizations received funding to specifically target cooperative small businesses.

SBA also prioritized projects that support entrepreneurship among ex-offenders in the criminal justice system. SBA recently changed the rules in its Microloan Program to allow loans to entrepreneurs on parole or probation.  Of 37 PRIME grantees this year, 15 will carry out projects that support entrepreneurship among ex-offenders.

This year’s PRIME awards also focused on organizations participating in SBA’s Community Advantage Program.  This program provides mission-oriented, non-profit lenders access to SBA’s 7(a) loan guarantees to help small businesses that have outgrown microlending but are not able to access more traditional financing, including funding from SBA commercial lending partners.  Eight Community Advantage Lenders were selected for PRIME awards.   

PRIME was created by Congress as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999.  Funds become available on September 30 and the grant is for one year.

For more information on PRIME grants, visit