The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a United States government agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The mission of the Small Business Administration is "to maintain and strengthen the nation's economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters". The agency's activities are summarized as the "3 Cs" of capital, contracts and counseling.
SBA loans are made through banks, credit unions and other lenders who partner with the SBA. The SBA provides a government-backed guarantee on part of the loan. Under the Recovery Act and the Small Business Jobs Act, SBA loans were enhanced to provide up to a 90 percent guarantee in order to strengthen access to capital for small businesses after credit froze in 2008. The agency had record lending volumes in late 2010.
SBA helps lead the federal government's efforts to deliver 23 percent of prime federal contracts to small businesses. Small business contracting programs include efforts to ensure that certain federal contracts reach woman-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses as well as businesses participating in programs such as 8(a) and HUBZone. Another resource the SBA launched earlier this year is the SBA Franchise Directory, aimed to connect entrepreneurs to lines of credit and capital in order to grow a business.
SBA has at least one office in each U.S. state. In addition, the agency provides grants to support counseling partners, including approximately 900 Small Business Development Centers (often located at colleges and universities), 110 Women's Business Centers, and SCORE, a volunteer mentor corps of retired and experienced business leaders with approximately 350 chapters. These counseling services provide services to over 1 million entrepreneurs and small business owners annually. President Obama announced in January 2012 that he would elevate the SBA into the Cabinet, a position it last held during the Clinton administration, thus making the Administrator of the Small Business Administration a cabinet-level position.