SBA advises micro-businesses to try micro-lenders

    Small-business owners can take out loans without going to a lender, says Natalia Olson Urtecho. But she doesn’t recommend it.

    “All my friends used to max their credit cards, for God’s sake,” she said. “And you know credit cards, 23, 25 percent, that’s a big interest rate.”

    Today, Urtecho is the regional point person for the the government’s Small Business Administration. To encourage small businesses, the SBA backs small business loans at low interest rates.

    If you didn’t know that, however, you’re not alone.

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    Urtecho is working with the Women’s Opportunity Resource Center to get the word out on the availability of loans and how to apply for them.

    One woman who was glad to get that message was Drimaine Mills, right in Urtecho’s neighborhood.

    “It was a dream of mine,” she said of her ambition to open a hair salon after completing beauty school training.

    Following her mother’s death of cancer, Mills decided to make her salon environmentally friendly by getting rid of the chemicals.

    To finance an expansion of her business, Mills needed working capital of $8,000. Now, with the SBA and her partners, she’ll be adding nail service, spray tanning and facials.

    “I’m in the process of hiring as we speak,” Mills said.

    The Women’s Opportunity Resource Center was helping to lend out $750,000. With the additional funds from the SBA, that will go up to an even million in very small loans.

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