Sam's Club to offer loans to small businesses

How about a $10,000 loan with that pallet of ketchup?

Wholesale retailer Sam's Club said Tuesday that it had entered into an agreement with nonbank lender Superior Financial Group to offer its members small-business loans from $5,000 to $25,000.

Sam's said it is testing the online loan program with Superior Financial, a national Small Business Administration lender. During the pilot, Sam's members who apply for a loan will received $100 off the application fee, a 20 percent discount and an annual percentage rate of 7.5 percent.

Sam's said the small-business loan pilot program will focus on serving its small-business members — especially minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses — with the SBA's Community Express, Patriot Express and Export Express loans.

"Access to capital is a major pain point for our members," Catherine Corley, vice president of membership at Sam's, said in a news release.

The local SBA office will not likely be involved in any loans that are made through local Sam's Clubs, said Wayne Bell, district director for the SBA's Wichita district office.

"I look at this as another means and another avenue (for small businesses) to obtain financing," Bell said. "They deal with so many small-business owners... it makes sense."

Bell hopes that the program will be successful in getting more participation in SBA loans for minority-, women- and veteran-owned firms.

He said within the Wichita district — encompassing 77 Kansas counties — minority- and veteran-owned firms account for 9 percent of loan approvals. Women-owned businesses account for 22 percent, Bell said.

Sam's spokeswoman Kristy Reed said there is no end date on the pilot loan program.

"We'll test it until we feel we have the information we need to move forward or not," Reed said.

She said most of Sam's memberships are not business members. But Sam's Clubs see about 600,000 business members a day at its 596 stores, Reed said.