Small business loan program gets green light 

click to enlarge The program will allow businesses to borrow up to $50,000. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • The program will allow businesses to borrow up to $50,000.

During the next eight months, The City plans to issue about $1 million in loans to people wishing to expand or start a small business.

Mayor Ed Lee’s proposed $1 million for a small business revolving loan fund was approved Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee.
The committee had postponed a vote last month over concerns about outreach and whether the full amount was necessary.

The committee put half the money on reserve to ensure that it will be briefed on the program when the funds are requested later this year.

“I really want to this program work in places like San Bruno Avenue, Leland Avenue, Taraval and the Excelsior,” Supervisor John Avalos said.

Jennifer Matz, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said the funding would result in 62 loans this year. “The rate of return coming in from that many loans will really create a pool that can continue to revolve without starts and stops,” she said.

The program is part of a larger vision. “What we are trying to do right now is create an entire spectrum of lending and financial assistance for businesses large and small,” Matz said. “The revolving loan fund is really the first step.”

The program was launched in 2009 and offers loans of $25,000 for start ups and $50,000 to existing businesses to be repaid over five years. Since launching, 279 businesses have received a total of $715,585 in loans and created 73 jobs.  

Buenos Aires-born artist Lorena Siminovich, who runs a Mission business Petit Collage that creates baby and child wall décor, praised the program for providing her with a $25,000 loan to expand her business.

“Keep doing this if you want to see this type of growth in San Francisco business,” she told the committee. “You need to fuel this growth, because I could not get the bank funding that I needed.”

Working Solutions, the nonprofit administering the loans, receives 25 inquires a month about the loan program, Matz said.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the proposal on Tuesday.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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