Empowering world-class resources, good jobs, and access to capital for business growth
By Joseph Shepard,
The SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program seeks to stimulate and supplement the flow of private equity capital and long-term loan funds to small businesses when such capital is not available in adequate supply. Since last year’s signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the SBA and USDA to promote stronger businesses and agricultural economies in rural America, SBA has encouraged rural investing, not just through the SBIC program, but through USDA's Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) program. Our two agencies have collaborated through the promotion of our programs by encouraging investment in small businesses located in rural areas. Small businesses located in rural areas that don’t have an adequate supply of capital could benefit from SBIC and RBIC investing.
We believe you shouldn’t have to live in a big city to have world-class resources, good jobs and access to capital. From FY 2015 to FY 2018, the dollar amount of financings from the SBIC program into small businesses located in rural areas has averaged around $700 million, or 12% each year. At SBA, we want to do our part to help ensure rural areas are part of our nation’s prosperity.
Over the last three years, the SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation, which oversees the SBIC program, has participated in close to 50 outreach events to increase the awareness of the SBIC program nationwide. I recently had the opportunity to discuss rural investing with a number of current and prospective bank investors at the American Bankers Association Agricultural Bankers Conference held in Texas. We also discussed how the SBIC and RBIC programs both qualify as community development investments for banks under the Community Reinvestment Act, which can serve as an incentive for banks investing in the programs. Banks have historically been a driving factor in the capital formation process for SBICs.
For the first time during FY 2019, the SBIC program increased to $30.5 billion in private, outstanding and committed SBA-guaranteed capital. Given the SBIC program’s growth and SBA’s role as stewards of the public’s trust, we also want to ensure taxpayer dollars are managed responsibly while being invested in small businesses so they have an opportunity to grow. SBICs provided $5.86 billion to 1,191 small businesses in FY 2019, which was the highest financing activity level since FY 2016. Approximately 20.6 percent of the small businesses financed were in low-to-moderate income areas, and 5 percent were women-owned, veteran-owned, or minority-owned.
SBA also licensed 18 SBICs in fiscal year 2019. The amount of investments from private investors into these 18 newly licensed SBICs totaled $1.234 billion, which is the highest initial private capital level since FY 2015. Of this amount, investments from bank-owned/non-leveraged investors in FY 2019 totaled $247.5 million, which is the highest level from this investor group since FY 2016.
At the SBA, we are proud of the impact the SBIC program has made and continues to make for small businesses across the country without adequate supplies of capital.
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