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Securing financing is one of the most important keys (and one of the biggest obstacles) to small business success.

To help small businesses get the financing they need to strengthen and grow, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has several loan programs designed for very specific purposes.

It’s important to note that SBA does not directly provide funding to small businesses but sets the guidelines for loans, which are then made by lenders, community development organizations, microlending institutions and other partners. SBA then guarantees these loans will be repaid, mitigating the risk to lenders. This means that when businesses apply for an SBA loan, they are actually applying for a commercial loan backed by SBA and structured according to the agency’s requirements, but still handled following the lender’s credit and other criteria.

There are four main types of SBA loan programs:

For more on SBA loan programs, go to SBA.gov/loanprograms or contact your local SBA district office.