New report from the Small Business Administration shows Community Navigator Program delivers outsized results for traditionally hard to reach businesses.
Today, Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Guzman, National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard, and White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling met with participants of the Community Navigator Pilot Program to discuss the transformational effects the program has had in helping historically underserved small businesses access support.
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) American Rescue Plan-funded Small Business Community Navigators Pilot Program is the largest-everdedicated federal investment in navigator services for small businesses. Designed to reduce barriers that all types of small businesses face in accessing critical support – including those owned by disadvantaged groups such as veterans, women, and those from rural communities and communities of color – the Community Navigator program provided competitive funding to 51 organizations that worked with hundreds of local groups to connect entrepreneurs to resources to help their small businesses recover and thrive.
SBA analysis illustrates how the program is meeting small businesses where they are and helping to close resource, capital, and educational gaps for historically underserved small businesses by connecting entrepreneurs to trusted and culturally competent service providers in their communities. It demonstrates key features of the Community Navigator program’s success:
- Wide-reaching: In less than two years Community Navigator grantees have successfully helped to deliver training to over 350,000 entrepreneurs and 1:1 counseling services to over 33,000 small business owners for everything from how to access loan opportunities to on-site technical assistance. The Community Navigator program has served small business owners in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
- Strong return on investment: SBA projects that navigators will have helped secure at least $300 million in approved funding, including state and municipal grants, bank loans, lines of credit, and SBA loans, by the end of pilot program.
- Successfully reached small businesses not served by existing services: Roughly 75% of small businesses reached with counseling services through the Community Navigators program report not having previously done business with the SBA in the prior five years, illustrating the program’s success in reaching entrepreneurs who may have missed out on available supports in the past. One example of expanded reach made possible by the Community Navigator program is the five-fold increase in SBA collaborations with Native entrepreneur-serving organizations, helping small businesses on tribal lands secure more than $11 million in approved financial support through the navigator program.
- Helped underserved small businesses across the country: Four out of five Community Navigator clients are from groups traditionally underserved or underrepresented among small business owners. Nearly one out of every six clients served by the Community Navigator program operate in a rural area, and thousands of small business clients reached with counseling services report having a disability. The program also has a strong track record of serving entrepreneurs that are veterans, the spouse of a veteran, or an active military member. More than two-thirds of the clients served were Black and Hispanic small business owners.
The American Rescue Plan provided the Community Navigator Pilot program funding for two years. President Biden has called on Congress to extend funding for this successful program beyond 2023. Today at the White House, leaders and participants in the Community Navigator Program met with Administration officials to share the impact the program has had on their businesses. Businesses shared how the program had helped them secure funding, navigate state and federal certification and procurement processes, and receive specific technical assistance services that they were unable to find elsewhere. One service provider shared their experience helping ten businesses in his community secure microloans totaling $84,000, and described how their organizations’ ability to service clients in multiple languages filled a much-needed gap in the community. One of the large grantee organizations remarked on how the unique hub and spoke model of the program has allowed for the type of localized and specialized support that small businesses often need. Participants expressed a commitment to continue providing these services going forward.
Today’s roundtable participants included:
- Isabel Casillas Guzman, Small Business Administration Administrator
- Lael Brainard, National Economic Council Director
- Gene Sperling, American Rescue Plan Coordinator and Senior Advisor to the President
- Mark Madrid, Small Business Administration Associate Administrator
- Mike Haynie, Institute of Veterans and Military Families Founder
- Ron Busby, U.S. Black Chambers President and CEO
- Maria Fernanda Sierra, United States Hispanic Chamber Senior Advisor
- Jaime di Paulo, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
- Tara Murray, National Urban League Senior Vice President for Policy & Advocacy
- Susan Allen, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber President and CEO
- Erica Bouris, International Rescue Committee Senior Director
- Seung Kim, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Senior Vice President for National Programs
- Zack Armstrong, National Veteran Small Business Coalition Deputy Executive Director
- Charles O’Neal, Texas Association of African American Chambers President
- Sultan Minhas, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Microenterprise Business Counselor
- Cheryl Ford, ATHOS1 CEO
- Daniel Griggs, ATX Web Designs Founder
- July Franco Burkle, Franco Hauling, LLC. Co-Founder
- Alex Forsbach, Growing Acres Farms Owner