One of the challenging aspects of running a small business is managing opportunities to expand that come with a significant price tag. One increasingly popular method of acquiring the capital necessary to purchase the equipment, facilities or staff to make a major expansion is to secure a grant from a much larger business that operates within the same industry.

Investing in their collaborators

This Entrepreneur article discusses how small business owner Jane Yuan was able to get help from organic foods giant Whole Foods in order to bring her business to the next level. In 2014, Yuan’s Simple & Crisp fruit cracker company was approached by Whole Foods to bring her product to 300 of their stores, but she lacked the equipment necessary to fill such a large order. Whole Foods then made her another offer, a loan of $37,000 for five years at five percent interest. This loan allowed Yuan to purchase the dehydrators necessary to mass-produce her crackers and make a deal of a lifetime. However, Whole Foods isn’t the only big company interested in giving the little guy a hand up.

Big beer helping craft beer makers

Macro beer brewer Samuel Adams has also been getting into the small business assistance game with its Brewing the American Dream Program. The program offers burgeoning entrepreneurs in the food and hospitality industry free coaching sessions with experienced brew-masters, in which they can get advice about how to optimize and expand their businesses. The program has also been responsible for giving craft beer makers more than $4 million in loans since 2008.

Competition versus collaboration

While many of the U.S.’s biggest banks are no longer interested in making loans to small businesses, corporate America seems keen on filling the gap. In addition to the loan programs operated by Whole Foods and Samuel Adams, Miller Lite and Walmart have also started programs which are designed to offer seed funding to entrepreneurs. Recently, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase Bank and PayPal have also started issuing small business loans. Even FedEx and Martha Stewart Living have taken to giving multi-thousand dollar loans to thriving independent companies. In previous eras, small business owners might have accurately viewed big brands as their chief rivals, but in the current marketplace, the drive toward competition has been replaced by a focus on collaboration.



This article was written by Mario McKellop for Small Business Pulse



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