Sam’s Club Tests Online Small Business Loan Program for Main Street
Bentonville, AR—July 6, 2010— Existing small business owners and entrepreneurs with hopes of starting up continue to seek access to capital in the form of bank loans, yet are still struggling to land credit. Only half of small businesses that tried to borrow last year got all or most of what they needed, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business. In the mid-2000s, 90% of businesses said they got the loans they needed.
To help support small business and its business members, Sam’s Club announced today it is testing an online program with Superior Financial Group, the Nation’s leading Small Business Administration (SBA) lender, which would make $5,000 to $25,000 loans available to its members who qualify. In a November 2009 state of small business survey conducted by Sam’s Club, nearly 15 percent of its business members reported being denied a loan to run their operation, up from 12 percent in April 2009.
The Sam’s Club small business loan pilot program is a first-of-its-kind and will complement other offerings that cater to small business including low rate merchant credit card processing, convenient order-ahead programs and early shopping hours.
The Sam’s Club small business loan pilot will focus on serving Main Street minority, women and Veteran owned small business owners as well as micro-entrepreneurs under the SBA’s Premier Outreach Express products such as Community Express, Patriot Express and Export Express loans.
“Access to capital is a major pain point for our members and the small business Main Street community. We believe this pilot program is a step in the right direction to help fuel small business growth and create jobs to stimulate our economy. It’s also simple to apply and costs less, which is consistent with our goal to help our members make smart choices and provide superior value,” said Catherine Corley, vice president, Membership at Sam’s Club.
SFG is one of only 13 approved Small Business Lending Corporations (SBLC) federally regulated by the SBA, and specializes in providing access to credit for Main Street and underserved borrowers. Additionally, SFG offers free online technical assistance and online training courses that specifically target the borrower’s weaknesses. The courses even include a “how to” on writing a business plan, complete with a business plan writing template.
“All Lenders are trying to make an impact on Main Street, which includes minorities, women and veterans to help create jobs. Main Street however remains the most difficult underserved market to reach, said Tim Jochner, CEO Superior Financial Group.“Sam’s Club together with SBA’s premier outreach express loan programs provides both a unique and powerful opportunity to reach and provide capital along with technical assistance and training to increase successful penetration into this underserved space.”
Sam’s Club members who apply for a small business loan online during the pilot will receive a $100 off the application fee, a 20 percent discount and a 7.5 APR, which is 25 basis point discount. The terms of the loans will remain at 10 years, which is common to help keep monthly payments low. There is no penalty for early repayment. Business memberships cost $35 annually at Sam’s Club.
While the majority of the Sam’s Club small business loan pilot program is to be delivered online, Sam’s Club will test some in club communication and other marketing efforts to reach business members and small business owners. For more information visit samsclub.com and click on the services tab.