You may have heard the news: Sam’s Club is partnering with Superior Financial Group to offer a small-business loan program to Sam’s Club business members. In this guest post, Catherine Corley (shown), vice president of membership at Sam’s Club, shares more about the new program and the reasons behind its launch.

CatherineCorleyEven with the unemployment rate in our country slowly dropping and personal income levels on the rise, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are still struggling to land credit. Last year, only half of the small businesses who tried to borrow got all or most of what they needed; in the mid-2000s, 90 percent of businesses said they got the loans they needed. And in our November 2009 survey of our small-business members, almost 15 percent said they were denied a loan for their business. These are only a few examples, but they clearly tell us there’s a need to find solutions to give the small-business community access to the capital and resources they need.

We began testing the new online small business-loan program offered by Superior Financial Group in May. The program provides loans ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to our small-business members who qualify.  To date, more than 1,000 business members have applied to this first-of-its-kind program and nearly half have been approved for a loan. Sam’s Club members who apply for a small-business loan online during the pilot will receive $100 off the application fee, a 20 percent discount and a 7.5 APR, which is a 25 basis point discount.

We believe this pilot program is a step in the right direction to help fuel small-business growth and create jobs to stimulate our economy. It’s also simple to apply and costs less, which is consistent with our goal to help our members make smart choices and provide superior value. Beyond the loan program, we’re always looking for ways to help our small-business members, whether it be through providing access to capital or the products they need at a good price, offering a membership to business owners for $35 a year, providing early shopping hours, or giving them access to our Click ‘n’ Pull service.

From the independent contractor to the convenience store owner, we hope this loan program is just one of the many offerings from Sam’s Club that help members manage their businesses more efficiently.