Celebrating 70 Years of Empowering America’s Small Businesses

On July 30, 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Small Business Act into law, creating a new agency: the U.S. Small Business Administration. Its mission: To aid, counsel, assist and protect small businesses, the backbone of America’s economy.  

Since then, SBA has helped millions of entrepreneurs pursue their dreams of business ownership. Some of America’s biggest companies — including Nike, Apple, FedEx, Ben & Jerry’s, Under Armour and Chobani — got their start with help from SBA. And, with President Biden's Investing in America initiative fueling a small business boom, SBA's mission is more important than ever, as Americans filed 12.2 million new business applications seeking the opportunities that only entrepreneurship can deliver, for themselves and their communities. 

Here are seven important ways the SBA continues to serve small businesses 70 years on: 

1. Expanding access to capital. Through the 7(a), 504, microloan and other loan programs, SBA facilitates lending from partner financial institutions to entrepreneurs who may not meet conventional loan requirements. By reducing the risk for lenders, the SBA empowers small business owners to secure the financing they need to start, expand or recover from setbacks. Over the years, these lending programs have helped small business access the capital they need to start and grow their businesses. Recently, SBA announced new improvements to make it even easier for lenders to help small businesses get funding.  

2. Providing business counseling and mentorship. Navigating the complexities of starting and operating a small business can be overwhelming. That's where SBA's extensive network of more than 1,000 resource partners comes in. Small Business Development Centers, Women's Business Centers, SCORE chapters and Veterans Business Outreach Centers offer entrepreneurs expert counseling, training, mentorships and other services for every stage of their business journey. This network continues to expand with Women’s Business Centers in every state and Puerto Rico, new Veterans Business Outreach Centers and more. Additionally, SBA’s Community Navigators program connects entrepreneurs in underserved and underrepresented communities to SBA resources and programs through hundreds of trusted local community groups across the country.  

3. Boosting government contracting opportunities. The U.S. government is the world’s largest customer, representing a big opportunity for small business growth. The Women-Owned Small Business federal contract program, 8(a) Business Development program, HUBZone program, Veterans Certification program and other assistance programs help small businesses tap into government contracting.  

This helps level the playing field, enabling small businesses to compete for government contracts, unlock growth potential and access new markets. SBA and the U.S. General Services Administration recently announced new efforts aimed at increasing government contracting opportunities for disadvantaged small businesses.  

4. Helping small businesses recover from disasters. Disasters can strike at any time and devastate small businesses. In coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local governments and other organizations, SBA connects business owners and homeowners in declared disaster areas with low-interest disaster loans to help communities recover. In addition, these loans can now be increased to fund mitigation improvements to boost resiliency against future disasters.  

5. Innovating to meet the needs of small businesses. Small business owners are innovators, constantly evolving as market conditions change. In that same spirit, SBA adapts to meet the needs of small businesses. Lender Match, MySBA loan portal, Paycheck Protection Program direct forgiveness loan portal and certify.sba.gov are just a few examples of how SBA is embracing digital technologies to meet small businesses anywhere and everywhere they are.  

SBA also supports innovators by overseeing America’s Seed Fund. By providing over $4 billion each year in capital through a competitive awards process, it’s the nation’s largest source of early-stage research and development funding for small businesses.  

6. Supporting international trade. Nearly 96% of consumers live outside of the United States, and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in other countries. This represents a big opportunity for America’s small businesses. Through efforts like the State Trade Expansion Program and other international trade programs, SBA helps small businesses increase profits, reduce market dependence and stabilize seasonal sales. 

7. Serving as a catalyst for economic growth. SBA empowers small businesses to thrive, create jobs and contribute to local communities. Through programs and services, the agency provides access to capital, counseling, procurement opportunities and much more, leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs facing challenges, especially those in underserved communities.  

Small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s economy, creating jobs and making communities vibrant places to live and work. For seven decades, SBA has helped entrepreneurs access the capital, market opportunities and networks necessary to start, grow and build resilient businesses and achieve the American Dream. Learn more at sba.gov.   


About the author