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The importance of fair and equitable access to credit for minority and women-owned businesses

Small businesses, including minority and women-owned businesses, are the cornerstone of the American economy and have been hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress passed and amended the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to minimize the impact of the pandemic. The CARES Act includes the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans and debt relief options to small businesses. The funds also allow small businesses to pay their employees and meet other short-term expenses including mortgage interest, rent and utility costs. In the amendment to the CARES Act, Congress appropriated additional funds of $321 billion to the PPP, with at least $60 billion of the PPP subsidy to guarantee loans made by smaller depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions. The Bureau is working with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to advance access to credit for minority, women-owned, and small businesses. Learn more about the Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 response resources .

As small business owners and lenders work together to access the CARES Act options or other loan programs, anti-discrimination laws, such as the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act, protect business owners from discrimination because of race, color, national origin, sex, and other protected characteristics. These protections apply to new and existing customers (including depository customers) seeking loans at financial institutions. The Bureau has resources in English and in Spanish with warning signs about lending discrimination. Some examples of potential warning signs of lending discrimination based on race, sex, or other protected category include:

  • Refusal of available loan or workout option even though you qualify for it based on advertised requirements
  • Offers of credit or workout options with a higher rate or worse terms than the one you applied for, even though you qualify for the lower rate
  • Discouragement from applying for credit by the lender because of a protected characteristic
  • Denial of credit, but are not given a reason why or told how to find out why
  • Negative comments about race, national origin, sex, or other protected statuses

Small business owners who believe they were discriminated against based on race, sex, or other protected category can submit a lending discrimination complaint online. Through our consumer complaint system, companies respond to complaints about consumer financial products and services. The CFPB takes complaint information into account in our supervisory and enforcement work. Also, the Bureau has released several resources about how consumers can protect their finances during the pandemic.

In addition, the Bureau continues to promote business opportunities for minority, woman-owned, or small businesses. Minority, women-owned, or small businesses interested in doing business with us, please visit our webpage.

Let’s remember, we are all in this together.

Find more information regarding COVID-19 from CFPB

We’re working to continuously update information for consumers during this rapidly evolving situation.

We will publish all COVID-19-related information and blogs to our resource page. Information should be considered accurate as of the blog publish date.

See our COVID-19 resource page

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