October 21, 2021
Isabella Casillas Guzman
Administrator, Small Business Administration
Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
As small businesses continue to be impacted by COVID-19, the Small Business Administration is providing additional resources to alleviate those challenges they face.
The Honorable Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator, has played a major part in their implementation of multiple new programs. In a discussion with Neil Bradley of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during CO—’s 2021 Big Week for Small Business, Guzman talks about the state of the SBA and its impact on small businesses.
SBA Serves Millions of Small Businesses
Due to the pandemic, the SBA had to scale up in order to serve millions of small businesses. They’ve created different programs and implemented structural reforms in order to better serve small businesses.
Although the SBA has faced challenges during their period of growth, they’ve been able to provide relief to small businesses to help them stay afloat, with programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program.
“The government accountability office did a study and found that the SBA this year really did a good job at trying to get to those underserved zip codes and communities around the country that maybe didn't get PPP in the first round," Guzman said.
Underserved Small Businesses Came to Light During the Pandemic
There have been a lot of learning curves for small businesses during the pandemic, such as adapting to the ever-changing guidance issued from government entities, and reimagining of business operations due to the economy and changes in consumer needs.
Guzman recognizes that many companies were underserved in the past, though an effort is in place to be sure those companies will receive the benefits they need in the future from the SBA.
“COVID-19 did expose barriers that existed historically. Inequities and racism that we know held back a lot of our small businesses, our underserved businesses, that were under-capitalized as a result and our economy can't afford any of those inefficiencies or leaving talent on the sidelines from rural communities to urban communities," she said. "And that's what the SBA is all about: Making sure that there's access to capital, that those opportunity gaps don't continue [and] that we can fill them.”
With New Business on the Rise, SBA Offers Resources to Entrepreneurs Just Getting Started
Business owners starting out can look to the SBA for resources such as financial assistance, access to connections, and education.
“The SBA will prioritize being customer-centric and technology forward and equitable as we design and implement our programs and do the outreach to make sure... that you can reopen, rebuild, take advantage of opportunities, and emerge stronger and more resilient,” said Guzman.
Guzman knows how impactful small businesses are to the economy and wants to make the SBA’s services accessible for all, including those that previously have been underserved.
“When we launch a program, we scale it nationally to everybody and be as inclusive as possible,” she said. “And just in my six months, we've launched six new programs nationally, including some very targeted grant programs, as well as a community navigators pilot program.”
SBA Has a Plan to Sustain Momentum
In these changing times, the SBA has created ways for small businesses to make valuable connections with those who can help their business grow.
”SBA has tools and platforms to connect to those lenders, as well as to incredible banking partners,” said Guzman. “We now have over 5,000 lenders as part of our network and previously right before COVID just over a thousand to 2,000. So we have grown incredibly. We want to keep that going and provide products and tools through this incredible distribution network.”
The 'Build Back Better' Agenda Can Help Small Businesses
As the economy continues to grow, government leaders have created various ways of providing economic support to small businesses. One form of economic support that could help is President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, Guzman notes.
“The Build Back Better agenda that's being considered right now in Congress includes the President's vision of investing in innovation ... to help businesses get to that market and get to capital to fund them in the process so that they can have that high growth,” said Guzman.
Learn more about SBA programs every small business should know about here.