There are a variety of alternatives to bank financing for small businesses, especially business start-ups. The Small Business Investment Company Program fills the gap between the availability of venture capital and the needs of small businesses that are either starting or growing. Licensed and regulated by the SBA, SBICs are privately owned and managed investment firms that make capital available to small businesses through investments or loans. They use their own funds plus funds obtained at favorable rates with SBA guaranties and/or by selling their preferred stock to the SBA.
SBICs are for-profit firms whose incentive is to share in the success of a small business. In addition to equity capital and long-term loans, SBICs provide debt-equity investments and management assistance.
The SBIC Program provides funding to all types of manufacturing and service industries. Some investment companies specialize in certain fields, while others seek out small businesses with new products or services because of the strong growth potential. Most, however, consider a wide variety of investment opportunities.
Surety Bond Programs
By law, prime contractors to the federal government must post surety bonds on federal construction projects valued at $100,000 or more. Many state, county, city and private-sector projects require bonding as well. The SBA can guarantee bid, performance and payment bonds for contracts up to $1.25 million for small businesses that cannot obtain bonds through regular commercial channels.
Bonds may be obtained in two ways:
Prior Approval. Contractors apply through a surety bonding agent. The guaranty goes to the surety.
Preferred Sureties. Preferred sureties are authorized by the SBA to issue, monitor and service bonds without prior SBA approval.
The SBA has offices located throughout the United States. For the one nearest you, look under “U.S. Government” in your telephone directory, or call the SBA Answer Desk at (800) 827-5722. To send a fax to the SBA, dial (202) 205-7064. For the hearing impaired, the TDD number is (704) 344-6640.