Washington Small Business Credit Initiative

A combination of lending and investment programs designed for small businesses, the goals of Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) programs are to provide additional capital to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and participating lenders to increase the flow of capital to underserved communities across the state who have been otherwise left out of traditional banking opportunities.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed The American Rescue Plan Act, which provides for the reauthorization and expansion of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury). Treasury has appointed the Washington State Department of Commerce (Commerce) as the Implementing Entity to execute Washington’s approved SSBCI plan.

The purpose of Treasury’s SSBCI program is to strengthen state programs that support private financing to small businesses where it provides funding to state small business lending and investment programs. The goals of the state’s SSBCI programs are to address the capital needs of the smallest businesses and non-profit organizations of Washington State, with a focus on under-resourced and under-banked communities.

A portion of all program funding is targeted towards Very Small Businesses (VSB) and businesses owned by Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals (SEDI). Working with private partners, Commerce expects to leverage new private capital (10:1 ratio) to expand lending and investment in small businesses and entrepreneurship, build small business ecosystems, and create jobs.

SSBCI Programs

Funds from the U.S. Treasury will be allocated to the state in tranches and will be used to fund five separate programs administered by the Department of Commerce. SSBCI programs are under regulatory review process with our Contracted Entities.

Commerce will announce programs as they become available with additional program information. The following is a list of Washington State SSBCI programs under development.

Loan Participation Program (Micro Loan Program)

The program works with Participating Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to address the capital needs of the smallest businesses and non-profit organizations across the state. The program participates by purchasing a portion of the loans from CDFIs to free up their existing capital to allow CDFIs to generate additional loans for small businesses.

Collateral Support Program (CSP)

The CSP program is designed to complement the Small Business Administration’s 504 Loan Program. The goal is to address collateral shortfalls by providing short-term loans (6-18 months) to small businesses in Washington State. The program addresses the shortfall by providing cash collateral to Participating Lenders, enhancing borrowers’ collateral coverage and allowing lenders to make new financing available to businesses.

Revenue Based-Financing Fund (RBF)

RBF was created to meet the growing demands of small businesses across the state; the program offers upfront capital with repayment of loans based on a percentage of the business’s earnings. The program aims to support underbanked communities and businesses who could not obtain financing under traditional debt-based loan products.

Commercial Real-Estate Program (CRE)

Designed to assist small businesses in qualifying for financing and lowering their business risk when undertaking owner-occupied real estate loans. CRE targets Socially and Economically Disadvantaged business owners and Very Small Businesses with funding for owner-occupied commercial real estate loans that could be used for tenant improvements, construction, purchase or refinance.

Venture Capital Fund

Washington State SSBCI funds will invest in three separate venture capital funds dedicated to providing early-stage funding to support the growth of Washington businesses. The venture capital funds with diverse investment teams will focus on investing in underserved startups or targeted investment objectives such as social equity, climate tech innovations, information technology, AI, and machine learning.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When will Washington State’s SSBCI programs launch?

The Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) programs are currently under development and under regulatory review process. Commerce does not yet have specific timelines for a launch date. However, we expect programs to become available in 2024 for businesses to apply through contracted lending and equity partners.

Will there be grant funding available through SSBCI programs?

No. The SSBCI funds are implemented as loans or equity investments only; the programs do not offer grants or forgivable loans.

How does a small business apply for the SSBCI program funding?

Small businesses do not apply directly to Commerce for funding. Applications will be made through fund administrators and or program participating lenders. A list of participating lending partners will be posted in the near future as the programs come online.

How does Treasury define a Very Small Business (VSB)?

A VSB refers to a business with fewer than 10 employees at the time of loan application and or investment. It includes independent contractors and sole proprietors.

Where can I find more program information about the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)?

For more information regarding the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program, please visit the U.S. Department of Treasury’s SSBCI program page.

How does Treasury define a Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individual-owned (SEDI) business?

As referenced in the SSBCI Capital Program Policy Guidelines (PDF), “meeting the needs of SEDI-owned businesses” means that the SSBCI funds are expended for loans, investments or other credit or equity support to:

  1. business enterprises that certify that they are owned and controlled by individuals who have had their access to credit on reasonable terms diminished as compared to others in comparable economic circumstances, due to their:
    • membership of a group that has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society
    • gender
    • veteran status
    • limited English proficiency
    • disability
    • long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society
    • membership of a federally or state-recognized Indian Tribe
    • long-term residence in a rural community
    • residence in a U.S. territory
    • residence in a community undergoing economic transitions (including communities impacted by the shift towards a net-zero economy or deindustrialization)
    • membership of an underserved community (see Executive Order 13985, under which “underserved communities” are populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life, as exemplified by the list in the definition of “equity,” and “equity” is consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and 10 queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality);
  2. business enterprises that certify that they are owned and controlled by individuals whose residences are in CDFI Investment Areas, as defined in 12 C.F.R. § 1805.201(b)(3)(ii);
  3. business enterprises that certify that they will operate a location in a CDFI Investment Area, as defined in 12 C.F.R. § 1805.201(b)(3)(ii); or
  4. business enterprises that are located in CDFI Investment Areas, as defined in 12 C.F.R. § 1805.201(b) (3) (ii).
Owned and Controlled definition:
  • • If privately owned, 51% is owned by such individuals
    • If publicly owned, 51% of the stock is owned by such individuals
    • In the case of a mutual institution, a majority of the board of directors, account holders, and the community which the institution services is predominantly comprised of such individuals


Linda Womack, Managing Director
Email: SSBCI@Commerce.wa.gov


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For more information regarding the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program, please visit the U.S. Department of Treasury’s SSBCI program page.