"The Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Microloan program provides direct loans to qualified nonprofit intermediary lenders who, in turn, provide 'microloans' of up to $50,000 to small business owners, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit child care centers. It also provides marketing, management, and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and potential borrowers. The program was authorized in 1991 as a five-year demonstration project and became operational in 1992. It was made permanent, subject to reauthorization, in 1997. […] Congressional interest in the Microloan program has increased in recent years, primarily because microloans are viewed as a means to assist very small businesses, especially women- and minority-owned startups, to get loans that enable them to create and retain jobs. Job creation, always a congressional interest, has taken on increased importance given continuing concerns about job growth during the current economic recovery. This report opens with a discussion of the rationale provided for having a Microloan program, describes the program's eligibility standards and operating requirements for lenders and borrowers, and examines the arguments presented by the program's critics and advocates. It then discusses P.L. 111-240, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which increased the Microloan program's loan limit for borrowers from $35,000 to $50,000, and the aggregate loan limit for intermediaries after their first year of participation in the program from $3.5 million to $5 million. The act also authorized the SBA to waive, in whole or in part through FY2012, the nonfederal share requirement for loans to the Microloan program's intermediaries and for grants made to Microloan intermediaries for small business marketing, management, and technical assistance for up to a fiscal year."
CRS Report for Congress, R41057