CalOSBA launches new $25 million program to increase capital access for California’s underinvested small businesses

Mar 25, 2024 | Press Release

The Technical Assistance for Capital Readiness Program will connect small businesses to lenders, spur 40,000 new loans in the next five years

San Francisco — Today, the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, announced participants in their new Technical Assistance for Capital Readiness Program.

Funding for this $25.3 million program comes from the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which was created by the U.S. Congress in 2010 and reauthorized through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The SSBCI is designed to spur investment in businesses with 1-9 employees, small manufacturing companies, and businesses operated by owners from underserved communities.

This program will help underserved small business owners by:

  • Guiding them through the loan application process, spurring the the approval of an estimated 40,000 new business loans over the next five years
  • Building legal, accounting, and financial management skills to access the capital needed to get started and scale
  • Increasing awareness of state-backed capital support programs

Additionally, it will support the deployment of $1.1 billion in federal funding separately approved for capital support programs from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) and the California Pollution Control Financing Authority. Lenders across the state are expected to leverage the $1.1 billion in funding for existing capital support programs into $18 billion in new loans for small businesses over the next five years.

“California’s 4.1 million small businesses are the backbone of our economy and provide nearly half of the state’s private sector jobs. But too many of them struggle to access the capital they need to grow. This is a historic opportunity to catalyze inclusive economic growth and build a stronger California,” said Tara Lynn Gray, CalOSBA Director.

At an event held in San Francisco today for network partners, CalOSBA named CAMEO, California’s statewide small business network and leading voice for businesses with one to five employees, as the Capital Readiness Network Manager for this program. In this role, CAMEO will lead a network of 29 resource partners that seeks to ensure underserved small business owners are equipped to access capital from lenders offering both state-backed and traditional loan offerings. This new network of technical assistance and lending partners will begin working with Main Street borrowers starting in April as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to support the small businesses community.

“CAMEO is honored to be selected as the network manager for the Technical Assistance for Capital Readiness Program and to help ensure that small businesses across the state have full and equal access to this incredible opportunity,” said Carolina Martinez, CEO of CAMEO.

The Technical Assistance for Capital Readiness network also includes:

Capital Readiness Coaches

  • Central California SBDC Network
  • Los Angeles SBDC Network
  • NorCal SBDC Network
  • OCIE SBDC Network
  • Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
  • San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network

Capital Providers

  • Access Plus Capital
  • AmPac Business Capital
  • California Capital Small Business Financial Development Corporation
  • El Pajaro Community Development Corporation
  • ESO Ventures Inc.
  • Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation
  • ICA Fund
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Macedonia Community Development Corporation
  • Main Street Launch
  • PACE Finance Corporation

Equity Advisors

  • Alliance for Community Development
  • Asian Business Institute and Resource Center
  • ASIAN, Inc.
  • Asociacion de Emprendedor@s
  • California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce
  • Caravanserai Project
  • Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce
  • International Rescue Committee
  • San Francisco African-American Chamber of Commerce
  • West Business Development Center

The Technical Assistance Training Partner

  • The Center for Strategic Economic Studies and Institutional Development

CalOSBA already oversees the California Small Business Support Centers, which provide no-cost 1:1 consulting and training for small businesses. This new partner network through the Capital Readiness Program will complement those existing services but focus exclusively on capital access to help business owners navigate the loan process, prepare their loan applications, and determine what loan products, if any, will be the best fit.

More than two-thirds of small business-owners report that they will seek capital over the next 12 months, but many don’t think they understand all the available options. Many diverse business-owners – including women, people of color, veteran and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and other business-owners in low-to-moderate-wealth, rural, or disaster-impacted communities — believe they have experienced declines on loan applications unrelated to the fundamentals of their businesses. Studies prove that diverse business-owners must work harder to gain the same lending and investment opportunities as non-diverse peers. This program is designed to help level that playing field.

CalOSBA’s mission is to make sure state services to support small business growth are available to entrepreneurs in every zip code. The Office also oversees the build-out of 13 Accelerate California Inclusive Innovation Hubs to help diversify our innovation economy and the Outsmart Disaster preparedness training program to help small businesses become more resilient in an era of rapid climate change.

About GO-Biz
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development(GO-Biz) serves as the State of California’s leader for job growth and economic development efforts. GO-Biz offers a range of services to business owners including: attraction, retention and expansion services, site selection, permit streamlining, clearing of regulatory hurdles, small business assistance, international trade development, assistance with state government, and much more. For more information visit the GO-Biz website.

About CalOSBA
The Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) helps support economic growth and innovation by working to ensure that California’s small businesses and entrepreneurs have the information, tools and resources they need to plan, launch, manage and grow their businesses successfully and be resilient. The CalOSBA serves to elevate their voices in state government and to advocate on their behalf to help ensure all aspiring and current small business owners and entrepreneurs are provided with the opportunity to access capital, access markets, and connect to the networks and resources they need to succeed. For more information visit the website.

CAMEO is California’s statewide micro-business network made up of 400 organizations, agencies, and individuals dedicated to furthering Micro-Business development in California with small and micro-business financing such as loans and credit, technical assistance and business management training. Annually, CAMEO members serve about 200,000 very small businesses with training, business and credit assistance and loans. These firms – largely start-ups with less than six employees – support or create 300,000 new jobs in California and generate a total of $15 billion in economic activity. For more information visit the CAMEO website.

Sara Curtis
Chief of Staff
Email Sara, HERE

California Office of the Small Business Advocate
1325 J Street, Suite 1800

Sacramento, CA 95814
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