Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation Receives SBA Funds to Assist Disadvantaged Entrepreneurs

MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) is one of thirty-nine community-based organizations to be awarded funds through the SBA’s Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME), the SBA’s Wisconsin office announced today.  These organizations help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.  WWBIC will receive $149,000 to support its program “Job Creation through Enhancing Opportunities for Low-Income Entrepreneurs,” and will provide training and technical assistance to disadvantaged small business owners in Milwaukee and Racine.

“Having assisted approximately 80 businesses already this year through SBA lending, WWBIC is the state’s leading SBA micro-lender intermediary and SBA Community Advantage lender,” said SBA’s Wisconsin District Director Eric Ness. “This PRIME grant will allow WWBIC to enhance its vital technical assistance to low-income and disadvantaged business owners in the Milwaukee and Racine areas.  Such support makes it more likely that owners will succeed in establishing and growing their firms, and will be prepared to manage borrowing when they need it.”

“By training low-income and disadvantaged micro-entrepreneurs on how to grow their businesses, particularly through the smart use of information technology, the PRIME Program helps small businesses thrive in a 21st century economy,” said Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the SBA. “The beauty of PRIME is that it assists small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs to become lender ready, complementing the roughly $140 million approved this year through SBA’s mission-based lending programs.”

This year’s 39 recipients come from 16 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The grants range from $35,000 to $200,000 and typically require at least 50 percent in matching funds or in-kind contributions.  In total, 104 organizations applied for PRIME awards.

SBA placed special emphasis in this year’s competition on applications for projects utilizing information technology and software to help small businesses start, strengthen and/or grow.  Assisting small businesses with the tools needed to implement automated financial accounting, financial reporting, inventory management and web-based marketing and distribution is emerging as an industry best practice among SBA’s most successful micro lenders.

This year’s awards also emphasized organizations participating in SBA’s Community Advantage Program.  This program provides mission-oriented, non-profit lenders access to SBA’s 7(a) loan guarantees to help small businesses that have outgrown micro lending but are not able to access more traditional financing, including funding from SBA commercial lending partners.  Twenty SBA Community Advantage lenders submitted applications, and 13 were selected for PRIME awards.

PRIME was created by Congress as part of the Program for Investment in Micro-entrepreneurs Act of 1999.  Funds become available on September 30 and the grant is for one year.

For more information on PRIME grants, visit http://www.sba.gov/content/prime-grantees.