Although Chicago was able to escape reality for a short time as
the Blackhawks won the city's first Stanley Cup in 49 years, the
rest of the U.S. was still struggling to survive in a weak economy.
Fortunately, some small-business owners have been finding respite
in institutions that specialize in microlending.
Microlenders typically are community-based nonprofit
organizations that receive financing from the Small Business
Administration (SBA); federal, state and local government agencies;
and some philanthropies. And though microlending organizations
focus mostly on the poor and disenfranchised and offer small loans
(some as small as $25), some microlenders have realized their
services are perfect for struggling small businesses that have been
denied credit by traditional banks and credit card companies.
According to the Aspen Institute, a policy and research
organization based in Washington, D.C., small-business loan
applications to microlenders have increased 66 percent during the
past two years. The Aspen Institute says of the 700 microlending
groups it studied, about 400 offer small-business loans. The
average maximum loan amount is $35,000. Most small-business loans
fall between $5,000 and $35,000.
According to The New York Times, each microlender has an
annual lending limit of $750,000, which SBA sets. The average
microloan in 2008 was a 10-year loan of $11,500 at an annual
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