Small Business Majority hosts series with SBA Deputy Administrator Dilawar Syed

Over the past few months, Small Business Majority hosted a new small business engagement series with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Deputy Administrator Dilawar Syed, who is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the agency, alongside the staff in the office of the Administrator, and the Associate Administrators across the SBA’s core program offices. At each event, small business owners learned about a different pressing issue and had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversations about the SBA’s impact.

The first webinar, “Supporting a Technology-Savvy Modern Small Business Economy,” covered the importance of understanding and harnessing the power of technology for small business success. Small businesses need to adapt digital technologies to better compete with large corporations in an increasingly competitive and digitizing business environment. When small businesses adapt new technologies, they report many benefits including increased sales, increased efficiency and reaching a wider audience of potential customers. Additionally, this event covered the emerging use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the small business ecosystem. Mr. Syed explained, “Our view is that AI will move at a speed much faster than you’ve seen with software or social media. It’s important that small businesses make use of this and 48% are already using some form of AI.” 

In the next session, “Fostering Innovation and Access to Capital Programs for Entrepreneurs,” Mr. Syed covered updates on the SBA’s capital programs including recent efforts to modernize and streamline the SBA’s processes and systems. Access to capital is critical to entrepreneurs’ ability to start and grow their businesses. Unfortunately, many small business owners–especially women and people of color–face barriers. The traditional financial industry often can’t meet many businesses’ needs due to outdated and stringent banking regulations, credit worthiness tests and the level of perceived risk when making investment decisions. Additionally, these lenders do not provide the small and microloans needed to reach the smallest businesses.

Mr. Syed shared that the SBA recently lifted a cap on the number of Small Business Lending Companies (SBLCs) and made over 140 Community Advantage (CA) lenders a permanent part of the SBLC network. These lenders are primarily made of mission-driven regional and community banks, which serve individuals and small businesses in their local communities. Furthermore, we learned that the SBA is focused on providing small dollar loans through their microloan program so the smallest businesses can access the capital they need. “The average loan size through our microloan program is $13,000. There is clearly a hunger and demand for that product,” Mr. Syed stated.

Finally, in “The Modern Entrepreneur: How the SBA is supporting innovation across America,” we covered how the SBA is working to meet the ever evolving needs of small businesses. Over the past three years, a record 18 million new business applications have been filed and this growth has been fueled by entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities. However, there is still work to be done. 

To meet the increased demand for SBA resources fueled by the current small business boom, the Deputy Administrator stressed the importance of expanding partnerships with mission driven lenders and community organizations. The SBA is also focused on partnering with federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Treasury, who also offer critical assistance to small businesses nationwide through programs like the USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant program and the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The SBA is also working to deliver easily accessible trainings and educational resources to small businesses across the country, including the Administration’s new Investing in America Small Business Hub

To view a complete list of upcoming SBA educational events and webinars, please visit If you missed any of the events in this series, visit