U.S. Rep Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) this week introduced a bill in Congress aimed to help small businesses. Her "micro biz" bill will encourage small banks and other financial institutions to make more loans of up to $25,000 for start-up businesses. The bill would establish a federally funded loan-loss reserve, which would act as insurance to lenders in case borrowers default.
"The great recession has made it harder than ever for entrepreneurs to get credit," Maloney said Saturday at a press conference announcing the bill. "It's my hope that this 'micro biz' bill will be a bridge to a brighter economic future."
According to the New York Daily News, the reserve would cost the federal government $30 million a year for the next five years—and allow about 1,000 lenders to make approximately $125 million in loans to small businesses. The bill would create jobs, Maloney said, by using federal grants to help private investors loan money to entrepreneurs.
"With so many young people that are talented, that are graduating from our fine universities and schools and don't have an opportunity to find a job; this is an opportunity for them to start their own business," she said.
Tracie Lee, who with her husband Wayne Surber is launching Lonestar Taco in a yet-to-be-determined location in Brooklyn, spoke in support of the bill. (Watch a video here.)
Lee and Surber, formerly the executive sous chef at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, needed capital to buy equipment for events. "The initial outlay for renovations and equipment seems comparatively staggering once we put our estimates together, and not something that we could bootstrap," Lee wrote on Lonestar's blog, noting that the pair don’t "have hundreds of thousands of dollars burning a hole in our pockets."
"We knew it would be difficult if not impossible to get a loan from a traditional lender," Lee said at the press conference. (As she observed on the blog: "Banks won't even talk to you if you don't have at least two years of revenue to show, which puzzles me because how are you supposed to start a business without access to capital?")
So the pair got a loan for their budding breakfast taco business from microlender Accion USA, which allowed them to talk to customers, refine pricing, and do other legwork.
Said Lee: "So many others in this country have ideas but what they’re lacking is the seed money to get there."