As a baker at Main Street Café in Claysville, PA, Lori Polan spent four years creating homemade desserts. When Lori needed capital to purchase the business from her former employer, she turned to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Her recipe for success included meals made from scratch, a solid business plan and an SBA-backed microloan.

“I never thought of owning a business until the former owner wanted to sell. At that point, I knew I could handle running the café,” Lori explained. “I cook family meals for 15, so I’m used to the challenge.”

Lori is a great example of the growing number of entrepreneurs in rural America, and also a symbol of the many ways the SBA is working to empower small businesses as they start, grow and compete in the global market place. The microloan program that Lori used provides small, short-term loans up to $50,000 to business owners through community-based, nonprofit microfinance institutions. This can be a good option for start-ups and new small businesses that may not qualify for traditional bank loans. 

Last year, the number of SBA loans to small businesses increased significantly, with more than 5,000 loans made for more than $72 million, a record for the microloan program. The SBA also offers counseling and access to capital through 68 district offices, with nearly 1,300 locations in communities nationwide. You can connect with a volunteer mentor, a small business development center or a women’s business center for free business counseling, mentoring and training. The SBA’s Learning Center, an online resource, offers more than 60 free virtual courses on topics ranging from how to prepare a loan package, to price models for successful business. 

No matter the type of business, the SBA can be an ally to help you confidently start, grow or expand. We have the tools to help small business owners secure financing and sharpen their business management skills.