Ford Motor Co. will help its women and ethnic minority dealers acquire government-backed loans under an agreement the automaker made last month with the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA.
The loans, which can be used for any business purpose by the dealer, are likely to be as large as $3 million, the SBA says.
Other automakers also are seeking similar agreements with the federal agency, the SBA says.
The Emerging Market Automotive Program created by Ford and the SBA focuses on ethnic minorities and women operating Ford, Lincoln-Mercury, Volvo and Jaguar dealerships who might have had trouble acquiring loans, says George Frame, director of Ford's Dealer Development program.
The program guides dealers through the sometimes complicated process of acquiring government-guaranteed loans through banks and other lending institutions.
Frame says Ford has enlisted the help of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers to help find dealers who might be loan candidates. "We are trying to make sure that minority and women entrepreneurs understand that here is a viable way of getting funds to expand and support your business if capital is limited," Frame says.