SBA invites folks on ‘Community Express’

Community Express, a new program of the U.S. Small Business Administration, offers loans of $5,000 to $15,000 for owners of certain new or expanding businesses.

The program provides financial assistance, capital access, and technical and management assistance to underserved segments of Hawai‘i’s small-business community.

Eligible small-business owners may receive loans of $5,000, or $10,000, or $15,000, with seven-year terms and minimal paperwork.

“Fourteen loans have been made totaling over $100,000, with many more expected by the end of the fiscal year in October,” said Kim Hite, SBA loan specialist.

Participating lenders get an 85 percent loan guarantee from SBA.

Robin Figueroa, owner of HMBC (HMBCservices.com), one of the first recipients of a Community Express Loan in Hawai‘i, said she was very surprised at the ease and speed of the process.

“It was only a matter of weeks before the funds were transferred into my account. I’m using the money to market my services and expand my customer base,” she said.

To qualify, borrowers must either be located in low- to moderate-income areas, or be principals of companies owned by women, minorities or veterans. The owners, partners and principals must be of good character.

Loan proceeds must be used exclusively for business-related purposes. Free pre- and post-loan closing management and technical assistance is offered.

Interested, qualified individuals may apply through the Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network office at Kauai Community College, 246-1748; or Pacific Gateway Center in Anahola, 821-9355.

Those entities provide technical assistance and act as intermediaries for the participating lender, Innovative Bank.

For further information, please call the Honolulu SBA office, 1-808-522-8130, or 1-808-541-2973.

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