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It’s National Small Business Week, a time when the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes entrepreneurs and their companies.

The SBA has a number of programs to help individuals start and grow a business – and some are geared specifically toward women.

We’ve compiled a full list of such resources on our “Get Started” page, which includes a range of advice and resources to help move along your business idea to the next level. Here we highlight initiatives offered by the SBA.

Starting a Business

Throughout the U.S., there are over a hundred Women’s Business Centers that help women entrepreneurs start and grow their own businesses. They offer training and counseling, access to credit and capital, and marketing opportunities. Find a center in your state. (A number of Story Exchange entrepreneurs are ‘graduates’ of women business centers, including Becky O’Neil, Elizabeth Woods, Deborah Olivo, and Joy Opfer.)

Funding

The SBA recently launched two initiatives aimed at increasing loans to underserved communities – including women and minority-owned businesses.

The Small Loan Advantage and Community Advantage programs offer a streamlined application process for SBA 7(a) loans up to $250,000.

Participating lenders involved in the above programs can be found on the SBA’s Preferred Lenders section. On the right side of the page enter state or local information in the “find a SBA resource” drop down menu to learn more.

The SBA offers a backgrounder to help you understand the ins and outs of financing a business, including information on loans, grants and funding, as well as SBA’s loan programs that may be available for your business.

Mentoring

SCORE is a U.S. network of over 13,000 volunteers who offer entrepreneurs free, confidential business counseling services. They offer email mentoring and in-person mentoring at their 350 chapters throughout the U.S.

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