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Best Banks For Small Businesses The nation's top 100 microloan lenders.

By Karen E. Spaeder

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Looking for a little extra expansion capital? You couldn'thave picked a better time. According to a report by the U.S. SmallBusiness Administration's Office of Advocacy, bankers arelending money to small business like never before. Some $15.8billion was lent to small businesses last year by the 478 banks inthe SBA's new ranking of the top microlenders. "That'sa 5 percent increase over 1995 and is a good indicator that creditis more available than it has ever been," says Jere Glover,chief counsel for the Office of Advocacy, which compiled andpublished the Micro-Business-Friendly Banks in the UnitedStates, 1996 Edition report.

Glover cites a number of reasons for the lending increase."A lot has to do with an increase in lending to women,"he says. "More women are starting businesses, and bankers arebeginning to realize they are good loan risks."

The SBA's LowDoc program, which encourages banks to makesmall loans with reduced paperwork, is at the center of anotherchange, adds Glover. It showed bankers that it's cost-effectiveto make such microloans (which are less than $100,000). Now banksare taking the initiative and making these loans on their own.

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