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Lilliputian Loans When it comes to financing, bigger isn't always better. Have you tried an SBA microloan on for size?

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You need a little dough to get your business off the ground, and traditional bankers won't give you the time of day. We've heard this story before, and the SBA has a program for you. Welcome to the wonderful world of microloans, where the maximum amount is $35,000 (a figure that wouldn't get you a second look from most major banks). Even a few past credit woes might not disqualify you from the SBA Micro-Loan Program.

The SBA isn't the actual lender, though-an SBA-approved subsidiary lends the funds to entrepreneurs in any stage of business. "[The SBA's] intermediary lenders [have] experience making and servicing small business loans and providing technical assistance to the borrowers," says the SBA's Michael Stamler. There are about 150 approved lenders nationwide serving all types of new business owners with the capital and guidance they so desperately need.

Jonathan Reese and Jason Salfi, owners of Comet Skateboard, a skateboard manufacturer in Oakland, California, got a big helping hand from their lender, the Oakland Business Development Corp. (OBDC). Lending with funds from the SBA as well as a number of city and county sources, the OBDC made Reese and Salfi two $20,000 microloans in March. Because the two entrepreneurs had almost no credit history and very little collateral to speak of, Reese says, "Our banks didn't want to touch us."