The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers programs that support small businesses, including loan guarantees to lenders to encourage them to provide loans to small businesses “that might not otherwise obtain financing on reasonable terms and conditions” and grants to nonprofit organizations to provide marketing, management, and technical training assistance to small business owners.1 Historically, one of the justifications presented for funding the SBA’s loan guarantee programs has been that small businesses can be at a disadvantage, compared with other businesses, when trying to obtain access to sufficient capital and credit. It has been argued that this disadvantage is particularly acute for startups and microbusinesses (firms with fewer than five employees):
Traditional lending institutions, such as banks and investors, are unlikely to offer loans and investment capital to microfirms due to a variety of reasons. One barrier to microlending is a concern that startups and smaller enterprises are risky investments since growing businesses typically exhibit erratic bursts of growth and downturn. The perceived risk of these types of companies reduces the chances of a microbusiness to obtain financing. Another issue is that microbusinesses by and large require smaller amounts of capital, and thus banks or investment companies often believe that it is not efficient use of their time or resources, nor will they receive a substantive return on investment from such a small loan amount.