SBA working to spur innovation for LGBT businesses

During LGBT Pride Month in June, the Small Business Administration (SBA) joined with our national affiliate, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), as well as the Human Rights Campaign, to provide free trainings for small business owners.

One of the month’s events was the Innovation and New Programs conference call put on by NGLCC where Pravina Raghavan, the Deputy Associate Administrator of the Office of Investment and Innovation at the SBA, spoke about the services and assistances that the SBA provides to small businesses around the country.

Two major areas were highlighted: the SBA’s investment programs and their emphasis on funding research and development initiatives. On the investment side, the SBA operates a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, which uses public-private investment partnerships to help bridge the gap between what small businesses need and the availability of growth capital. The SBA additionally offers a guaranteed loan program, as well as a bonding program.

To help encourage participation in research and development initiatives by small businesses, the SBA has the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This competitive, awards-based program encourages the exploration of technological and commercial potential and enables the participation of small businesses in Federal R&D.

Through programs like these, the SBA is committed to ensuring businesses with diverse talent are able to be competitive in the marketplace. These programs and initiatives provide valuable input from businesses that otherwise might not have the opportunity to voice their ideas. One SBA program exhibiting this commitment is the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund, a $2.5 million competition for accelerators which aims to help fund small business’ operation costs. Raghavan emphasized the SBA’s desire to award applications that are not only geographically diverse, but also small businesses that are run by diverse entrepreneurs.

The SBA is working to support innovation everywhere, and members of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce are ideal applicants. The deadline to apply is August 2, 24014. More information on all the programs and initiatives the SBA has to offer can be found on the SBA’s website, www.sba.gov.