The Small Business Administration(SBA) was established in 1953. Since that time the agency has dispensed huge amounts of money in loans and loan guarantees, contracts, consulting assistance and other programs for business across the United States.
The seeds of the formation of the SBA were sown within the challenges of the Great Depression and World War I and grew due to numerous predecessor organizations.
Earlier Small Business Administration Agencies
In 1932 Herbert Hoover instituted the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The agency sought to ameliorate the consequences of the Great Depression.It sought to achieve this through the establishment of a loan program to support businesses adversely effected by the Great Depression. It had been adopted as the personal project of Hoover’s successor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The need to assist small business intensified with the onset of World War II, when they were placed at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis larger concerns. The Smaller War Plants Corporation was formed in 1942 to help with minor businesses, enhance their financial strength and enable them to more fully take part in the war effort. The Smaller War Plants Corporation accomplished this through providing loans directly to private entrepreneurs, providing incentives to large financial institutions to increase lending to small enterprises and acting as an advocate for small business in the federal procurement process.
After the war the SWPC was absorbed into the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. In addition to the services offered by the RFC the Commerce Department also had an Office of Small Business. The charter of the Office of Small Business was primarily educational, predicated on the stance that the lack of success of many business was insufficient access to information of operating a business and business skills. The Office focused its offerings on pamphlets and management consulting to individual entrepreneurs.
Through the Korean War the Congress created yet one more agency focusing on small business, the Small Defense Plants Administration. It carried a portfolio just like its predecessor Smaller War Plants Corporation with the exception that small business lending authority remained with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The Small Defense Plants Administration performed initial screening and provided counseling services to small businesses and provided certification that they were qualified to receive government contracts. The businesses then entered the loan process of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
The Founding of SBA
To streamline government support for minor business President Eisenhower proposed the organization of the Small Business Administration and it was developed by Congress in July 1953.” The charter also stipulated that SBA would ensure minor businesses a “fair proportion” of government contracts and sales of surplus property.
Initially the SBA concentrated on providing direct loans to small businesses, guaranteeing bank loans and making loans to victims of natural disasters. The Administration also provided help to small businesses to obtain government contracts and provided management consulting and technical assistance.
The Investment Company Act of 1958 established the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program, under which SBA licensed, regulated and helped provide funds for privately operated and operated venture capital investment firms. They specialized in providing long-term debt and equity investments to high-risk minor businesses. Its creation emerged as the result of a Federal Reserve study that discovered, in the basic form, that these businesses cannot get the credit they needed to keep pace with technological advancement.
In 1964 the SBA expanded its portfolio to join the War on Poverty, with the Equal Opportunity Loan Program (EOL). The Equal Opportunity Loan Program presented citizens living below the poverty level with the chance to receive credit with reduced collateral and application requirements. This enabled businesses with sound employment opportunities to obtain the financing that they needed to pursue them.
The breadth and scope of programs offered by the SBA has never been more extensive than it is today. The SBA helps and is an advocate for all U.S. businesses in every enterprise category and every State and Territory. Whether its providing procurement assistance for federal contracts, management consulting, or outreach to women, minorities and veterans, the SBA is an able partner. SBA also provides loans to victims of disasters and specialized advice and assistance in international trade.