The SBA and FINANTA Help Small Businesses Thrive
Philadelphia, PA, August 27, 2012 – Ayana Jones, Philadelphia Tribune Staff Writer
When Marie Johns, deputy administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration toured North Philadelphia-based Penta Ink, Inc., she highlighted how the government agency is helping small businesses grow.
Two years ago, Penta Ink owner Diego Vivas secured an SBA-funded loan through microlender FINANTA. The funding enabled him to purchase equipment and move large printing presses to a larger facility to accommodate his growing business that specializes in printing menus and fliers. Now the company is poised to hire four new employees.
“When President Obama talks about our economy and the importance of the middle class and small businesses because they are the job creators, this is an example of that in action,” Johns said.
Johns routinely travels around the country to highlight the strides made by small businesses and their impact on the economy. She says the president’s economic recovery plan is focused on small businesses, because two of every three private sector jobs are created by small companies.
“I’m so moved to see people like Mr. Vivas and what they are doing and how they are creating economic opportunity for so many other people. If this company wasn’t here, there would probably be a dozen people perhaps not having an opportunity. He’s on track to grow the company by 50 percent by next year, and that’s so phenomenal,” Johns said.
Johns highlighted some of the strides the SBA has made under the Obama administration. For instance, since 2009 the administration has supported nearly $80 billion in loans to more than 150,000 small businesses.
“We are working very hard to put tools in place. We are working very hard to increase our outreach,” she said.
Johns cites strategic alliances with organizations such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and National Black Chamber of Commerce.
“Those are critical partners for us in getting us to the businesses that need to know what the SBA is doing, and how the SBA can help them grow their businesses. We are very proud of this targeted outreach — to make sure that in particularly underserved communities it is clear the SBA is here, along with our lending partners like FINANTA, to do whatever we can to support their business growth,” she added.
As deputy administrator, Johns is responsible for management of the SBA and development of the agency’s programs and policies. Under her leadership, SBA had a record year in 2011, supporting more than $30 billion in lending to more than 60,000 small businesses across the country. Johns also serves as chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development.
Representatives from the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and FINANTA joined Johns during her visit to Penta Ink where she toured the company’s design department and the area housing the company’s printing presses.
Vivas started D.A.S., Inc., a flyer distribution company and Penta Ink Inc. to provide marketing materials for businesses in the city.
When Vivas was unable to secure funding from a bank to move his printing presses, he turned to FINANTA, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) for assistance. He secured $85,000 in loans from FINANTA, $35,000 of which was backed by SBA funding.
“They believed in us. They gave us the opportunity to show that we could grow. They helped a lot,” Vivas says.
“If it wasn’t for that money, we couldn’t run the business.”
Johns says FINANTA established itself as one of the best microlenders around the country. With more than 16 years as a CDFI, the North Philadelphia-based FINANTA has loaned nearly $35 million to more than 400 customers. The community lender’s loans range in size from $400 to $3 million.
“The SBA microloan program is a really good fit for us because it allows us to attend those people who need the extra technical assistance. The SBA microloan program comes with a grant that enables us to serve these people one-on-one and give them some business consultation services and refer them to other specialized services like an attorney or an accountant,” says Bertha Sarmina, a lender with FINANTA.
“What we like about the SBA microloan program is the fact that it’s flexible in the sense of being able to work with different levels of borrowers.”
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FINANTA is a non-profit community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides a wide range of financial products and services, including business loans and business technical assistance, mortgage counseling and mortgages, and financial literacy services to Philadelphia residents. Founded in 1996, FINANTA has distinguished itself among the region’s micro and small business sector by delivering services in a way that is uniquely conscious of the cultural, social, and language barriers that the growing immigrant and minority population faces. FINANTA’s mission is to promote the growth and economic expansion of diverse Philadelphia communities though the infusion of capital with the provision of technical assistance and business consultation services. In this effort, the financial products and services that FINANTA provides to underserved, low- to moderate-income individuals aim to connect micro and small businesses with the resources needed to start, support or expand their business. For more information about FINANTA, please contact Alyssa Ryan at Alyssaryan@finanta.org
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