Kamala Harris Announces $4.7 Billion Investment for Small Businesses

by TK Sanders
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Vice President Kamala Harris announced an extended and expanded government funding program Wednesday aimed at small businesses and entrepreneurial investment. Harris said small-business owners drive the U.S. economy, and that the Biden administration’s Small Business Administration’s Community Advantage program would help underserved entrepreneurs gain access to capital funding.

At a glance

  • Vice President Kamala Harris announced Wednesday that the Biden administration is extending a small-business program aimed at serving minority communities.
  • Harris said the Small Business Administration’s Community Advantage program will extend through September 2024. It was set to expire in six months.
  • The Biden administration is lifting a four-year moratorium on lenders in the program and raising the maximum loan size from $250,000 to $350,000.

Speaking at an event at Howard University in Washington, Harris said the small-business pilot program will now run through September of 2024. The Biden administration is also tweaking the format of the program by lifting a four-year moratorium on lenders and raising the maximum loan value to $350,000 from $250,000.

The program, which launched originally in 2011 under President Obama, gave certain small-business markets access to credit, management, and technical assistance. Now, it aims to provide “mission-oriented lenders,” like nonprofits focused on economic development, with guaranteed federal loan capital.

“Small-business owners work morning and night to transform an idea into a reality,” Harris said. “And that energy, of course, drives our entire nation forward. It creates jobs. It drives innovation. And it accelerates economic growth.”

“In America today, too many small businesses and too many entrepreneurs are also being left behind,” Harris also said.

Kamala Harris asserted that minority applicants interested in investment loans receive different treatment than white counterparts

According to Stanford University’s Institute for Economic Policy Research, black entrepreneurs often do not apply for loans — or, at least say that they did not apply for a loan — for fear of rejection. Harris, herself, made a series of assertions about the current state of American banking; though her sourcing for such information is not clear.

For instance, Harris said black and Latino entrepreneurs are less likely to be approved for small-business loans from traditional financial institutions than white applicants. She also said people in rural areas and tribal communities lack access to traditional banking services; and that Asian Americans face language barriers that damage their chances for securing loans.

Harris referred to an anecdote of a small-business owner in Oakland, California, named Rain, whom she met last year. According to the vice president, Rain wanted to purchase a van for her catering company; but apparently, the traditional banks told her that she was “unbankable.”

“Rain, undeterred by a word, went to a community lender; and that lender, of course, saw her vision to build a catering company that made fresh, local, and sustainable food cooked with love and served with care,” Harris said. “They, of course, gave Rain that loan to buy that van. And today, Rain runs one of the most successful catering businesses in Oakland. She has catered for clients from the mayor to the Golden State Warriors.”

The event also announced a massive, multi-billion investment in inclusive business growth throughout the D.C. area. More than two dozen organizations like Amazon, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo pledged nearly $5 billion in development funding.