How We Partner with the SBA to Fund Small Businesses
Erin Williamson

May 20, 2019

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business. They create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. For more than 50 years, National Small Business Week has been recognizing the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

As part of National Small Business Week, we highlighted entrepreneurs who have received U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans through Ventures.

The Small Business Administration helps small businesses get loans.

The SBA does not lend money directly to small business owners. Instead, it sets guidelines for loans made by its partnering lenders, community development organizations, and microlending institutions like Ventures. The SBA reduces risk for lenders and makes it easier for them to access capital which makes it easier for small businesses to get loans.

As an intermediary lender, Ventures has lent $915,261.42 SBA dollars to small businesses through the SBA Microloan Program.

Since 2000, we have approved 567 SBA loans to entrepreneurs who have thin credit files, low-credit scores, or cannot access traditional business loans through a bank. The SBA Microloan Program allows Ventures to provide loans up to $50,000 for business needs like equipment, inventory, supplies, and working capital. Through the SBA Microloan Program, entrepreneurs do not just receive the capital necessary to start and grow a microenterprise, they also receive comprehensive business coaching and training. This business coaching improves outcomes for small businesses and supports entrepreneurs as they repay their loans.

SBA Microloan intermediaries, like Ventures, tailor their loan products and policies to meet the needs of the community. At Ventures, we do not rely on specific credit scores to approve a loan. We look at the whole picture of the entrepreneur and work to find the right loan solution for their business.

These five business owners used their loans for everything from kilns to living barriers.

Kelly Wilson

Kelly Cannoli

Kelly Wilson grew up immersed in the Italian culture of the East Coast. She spent over 10 years working in Italian Restaurants and hours in kitchens learning family recipes. Back East, homemade cannoli were a part of every cultural event and celebration

In 2012, she asked a very important question, “If Seattle is the Espresso Capital of the country, where are all the cannoli?!” That’s when Kelly came to Ventures to turn her dream into a reality. Within a year, Kelly was selling her cannoli at farmer’s markets and festivals throughout Seattle. The first day she had a cannoli stand she sold out in hours after having served over 200 cannoli.

This year, Kelly received a $5,000 Business Builder loan from Ventures help her open Seattle’s first brick-and-mortar cannoli stand: Kelly Cannoli. Now, you can find her cannoli and espresso at 11310 Lake City Way, Seattle WA 98125.

Tia White

Brows by Zelia

Tia White provides eyebrow and makeup services, specializing in brow structure and natural features. After seven years in the makeup industry working for MAC Cosmetics and Anastasia Beverly Hills, Tia decided to start her own home-based eyebrow and makeup business in 2018.

Last May, Tia was approved for a Peer loan for $2,000. Unlike like a traditional business loan, Ventures’ Peer loans do not require physical collateral or good credit to apply. Instead, participants present their loan request to their cohort of peers for approval.

Tia used the loan for the microblading classes and licenses necessary for her to practice the technique in Washington State. After members of Tia’s family experienced cancer, she added microblading to her suite of brow services. She found that microblading was a confidence booster for those facing hair loss from cancer treatment. Microblading adds a semi-permanent tattoo to the brow region to help enhance the appearance of thinning brows. Brows by Zelia is growing and Tia hopes to open a brick-and-mortar brow salon in the future.

Jayne Simmons

Sister Sage Herbs

Sister Sage Herbs sprang from Jayne Simmons’ long interest in natural medicine. This deep knowledge and passion helped Jayne grow Sister Sage Herbs from a small side project into a successful business.

Jayne’s first Ventures loan was in 2011 for $1,000 to help her with branding and product design. In 2013, she sold over $9,000 in herbal tinctures at farmer’s markets on Vashon Island. Two years later, she had a booth at Pike Place Market and her sales topped $140,000.

In the fall of 2016, Jayne was turning away because she was operating out of a cramped, shared commercial kitchen that had no room for growth. She worked nearly round-the-clock but it was never enough. By September, her sales were booming but she couldn’t take on new business because of her limited capacity.

Jayne saw that problem as an opportunity. She knew that with a dedicated location, she could increase revenue by $100,000 per year and decrease operating expenses by 20%. So Jayne reached out to Ventures for help. Jayne received a $33,000 Business Builder loan to build out a fully operational production facility in South Park.

On May 9th, Jayne closed her second $33,000 loan (her fifth loan from Ventures) to help her small herb farm on Vashon Island meet the USDA’s certified organic fence and barrier requirements. While Jayne already farms and produces her herbs and tinctures organically, adding the USDA Organic Seal to her label would increase sales.

Yet for Jayne, it’s not about the money. “This is my dream business… With the loan and supportive coaching from Ventures, I’m able to do even more of what I love–handcrafting herbal remedies that enrich the lives of others.”

You can find Sister Sage Herbs at the Ventures Marketplace in Pike Place Market, online, and in PCC.

Peter Duncan

Mobile Business Solution

For eighteen years, Peter Duncan ran a side business offering tax preparation services while working fulltime in the evenings and on weekends. In 2018, Peter determined he needed to spend more time at home with his son and worked to shift his side business into a source of fulltime income.

Peter developed a business plan with Ventures and then received a Ventures Business Builder loan to rent a high-traffic brick-and-mortar storefront for his tax prep and bookkeeping services. He told us that “the loan has permitted me to have more quality time with my son.” Opening the storefront allowed Peter to develop strong relationships with clients and, in addition to tax preparation, he is expanding his business to offer bookkeeping and permit consulting services.

Bhakti Sa

Arachne Forge

Bhakti received a $2,000 Peer loan in February 2019 for equipment to increase production and improve efficiencies. Bhakti’s remarkable knives can be found online and at Epic Edge in Kirkland.