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Congress: House Act Requires Small Business Lending Information To Be Sent Out In Native Languages

Friday, June 25, 2010

Small business owners who speak little or no English could begin to receive information in their native language about loans, following passage of a government sponsored lending program, elected officials have announced.

While minority owned businesses make substantial contributions to the US economy, and have the potential to generate $2.5 trillion in gross receipts, they are less likely to receive loans and more likely to pay higher interest rates when they do receive a loan than their non-minority counterparts, according to US Reps. Michael Honda, Judy Chu, Al Green and André Carson, who pushed for an amendment to the Small Business Lending Fund Act to correct the inequity.

The amendment to the Act, H.R 5297, would require linguistically and culturally appropriate outreach for the Small Business Loan Fund, and to the extent possible, the disaggregation of data.

(See Pg. 31-32,

(7) OUTREACH TO MINORITIES, WOMEN, AND VETERANS.—The Secretary shall require eligible institutions receiving capital investments under the Program to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate outreach and advertising in the applicant pool describing the availability and application process of receiving loans from the eligible institution that are made possible by the Program through the use of print, radio, television or electronic media outlets which target organizations, trade associations…)

The four officials pointed to minority owned small businesses as traditional job creators, and noted that many are struggling economically as the economy remains sluggish.

They say their amendment would ensure adequate outreach to minority small business owners with limited English proficiency, who because of language barriers are often over looked or left out of capital access programs.

Honda (CA-15) said “Asian American and Pacific Islander small business owners are often over looked or left out in capital access programs due to language and cultural barriers.”

The amendment would also require lending institutions to include outreach for linguistically isolated — non-English or limited English speaking — populations in their business plan. Financial institutions receiving and lending funds through the Small Business Lending Fund Act would be required to use linguistically and culturally appropriate media outreach, and ensure comprehensive data collection by encouraging the break out of data by ethnicity and gender.

“Minority-owned financial institutions play a significant role in our nation’s economy,” said Chu (CA-32), chair of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, CAPAC, Economic Development taskforce. “Unfortunately, poor outreach and an incomplete understanding of each community’s particular needs often limit their potential. Our amendment addresses these deficiencies.”

She said that measures to help minority businesses would help improve the health of the nation’s economy.

“A stronger and quicker economic comeback is dependent on the success of our small businesses,” said Carson (IN-07). “That is why it is so important to make sure our minority- and women-owned businesses know about the opportunities available to them. Our economy will not fully recover until our small businesses return to success…”

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