Who is the Real Maria Contreras-Sweet?

By Charles H. Green

If you get past the glaring error in the first paragraph, Boston Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes offers a good profile on new SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. The error? She called Contreras-Sweet the ‘first Latina SBA administrator,’ overlooking Aida Alvarez (1997-2001).

Since becoming head of the SBA last month, Contreras-Sweet has traveled the country Maria Contreras-Sweetmeeting with business groups (including both NAGGL and NADCO) and trying to elevate the agency’s profile and programs. Her reign over Small Business Week took her to many events, but also offered the chance for the SBA administrator to host the new Federal Reserve Bank chair Janet Yellen.

Contreras-Sweet talked to Fernandes about her new job and her experiences as an immigrant and founder of a small business. Among the highlights of their interview was commentary on the core mission of SBA that was summed up well:

Small businesses create two of every three new jobs and helping them succeed is the key mission of the SBA. The agency encourages banks to lend to small companies, guarantees loans to new ventures, and provides counseling on how to start a company — and deal with challenges along the way.

As the Administrator pointed out, “The fundamental underpinning of success is access to capital. If you’re a restaurant cook or chef, you get a little access to capital, you become the next restaurant owner. The leverage that a financial institution has, the multiplier affect, is remarkable.”

SBA lenders are on the front line of that mission every day. Hopefully you never lose sight of how important your work is to the future aspirations and dreams of your clients.

Read more at BostonGlobe.com.

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