Access to Capital: The Key to Small Business Growth and Economic Development

There’s no question that access to capital is one of the most significant challenges for small business owners. Faced with an uneven lending market that often favors big businesses and a decline in small business lending from traditional lenders, small business owners have long turned to nontraditional sources—like personal credit—to find financing that meets their businesses’ needs. Now, the advent of online funding and other new lending sources is transforming the landscape for small business financing.

This development holds the potential to get needed capital to entrepreneurs and to communities that have long been underserved; however, it also opens the door for bad actors looking to take advantage of entrepreneurs. Not all online lenders are equal and some mask very high rates. In the absence of oversight of this new lending space, efforts like the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights are seeking to provide guidance and promote transparency among alternative lenders. This is why it’s especially important to also expand sources of reliable and traditional lending, like the SBA’s 7a loan program.  

This panel centered around conversation on policies to expand traditional lending options, the growing realm of alternative online lending and policies and efforts being made to increase transparency and responsibility in the industry.


Jessica Milano (Moderator)

Jessica Milano
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development, and Housing Policy
U.S. Department of the Treasury

Joyce Klein

Joyce Klein
Director of Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination (FIELD)
Aspen Institute

Manny Hidalgo

Manny Hidalgo
Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity
U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Capital Access

Lauren Stebbins

Lauren Stebbins
Vice President
Small Business Initiatives for Opportunity Finance Network