Feds offer online referral tool for small businesses
Administrator Linda McMahon, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, recently announced the launch of Lender Match, the SBA’s online referral tool connecting small business borrowers with participating SBA lenders. Lender Match, according to a news release from the SBA, is an upgrade to LINC — Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital — introduced as a pilot in 2015.
“The SBA’s mission to help small businesses grow, create jobs and help our economy thrive is strengthened by the new Lender Match tool. It essentially serves as a matchmaker, making it easier for small businesses to find lenders,” McMahon said, according to the news release. “I want to help get more capital in the hands of small business owners and entrepreneurs, and I encourage them to tap into the SBA’s resources for start-up and growth solutions.”
Lender Match brings together entrepreneurs and SBA lenders to help increase access to capital. It is an upgrade from LINC in its function, design and user experience, making it easier for entrepreneurs to use and connect with potential lenders.
The free online tool allows small business owners to fill out a quick online form, without registration, and then connects them with lenders within 48 hours, the news release. There are now fewer, more relevant questions, and lenders are now able to better filter the referral they are sent resulting in more viable matches. Lenders can now optimize their search criteria to identify specific types of borrower referrals for particular lines of business or specialized financing.
According to the news release, Lender Match is a much more user-friendly and intuitive platform for entrepreneurs and it provides better guidance on how to be prepared for the loan application process. It has been streamlined from start to finish providing better access to on-screen information.
After lenders have reviewed the information submitted to them by entrepreneurs, those who express interest in the loan will respond within two days. In addition, borrowers will also receive counseling information and resources from the SBA within their local area.
Lender Match is available to all SBA 7(a) and 504 lenders nationwide, including nonprofit lenders that offer free financial advice and specialize in micro lending, loans in SBA’s Community Advantage program, and the SBA’s CDC/504 loan program. It is important to note that you must be an approved SBA lender in good standing to receive borrower referrals.
Lender Match follows the SBA’s new digital media design with its clean and modern look, refreshed for easy use. It also contains a checklist of items for borrowers before talking to lenders that includes a business plan, credit history, collateral and financial projections that help to better understand the lending process. Prospective borrowers can go to www.sba.gov/lendermatch to get matched with any number of institutions and increase their access to capital.
There are currently more than 800 lenders in the SBA’s lending programs that participate in Lender Match throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. To date, the online tool has made more than two million lender referrals, and lenders have followed up with more than 70,000 referrals, connecting potential small business borrowers to capital.