Vice President Kamala Harris has unveiled significant changes to entrepreneurship pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Accompanied by Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman Steven Horsford and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabel Guzman, the vice president announced the news during a visit to the Black-owned culinary nonprofit, The Chef Jeff Project, in Las Vegas, NV.

During her stop, Vice President Harris highlighted a new SBA rule change that would eliminate capital program restrictions on Americans who have completed their sentences for past crimes. This change includes individuals on parole and probation, according to an official press release from the CBC.

“For too long, outdated policies have cut off access to capital in underserved communities, particularly Black communities,” CBC Chairman Steven Horsford said in the release. “Today’s announcement reflects our shared commitment to supporting Black-owned small business owners and expanding access to capital to Black and underserved communities.” 

Per the CBC, the new rule will remove most restrictions on loan programs based on an applicant’s criminal record. This would broaden SBA loan eligibility for millions. In addition, the new rule will “ban the box” on SBA loan applications that asks individuals to share information about their criminal history, which may deter potential business owners from seeking assistance.

“Ban the Box” is a part of the Biden-Harris administration’s recent efforts to provide individuals from underrepresented communities with greater access to over $700 billion in federal small business contracts, per the release.

White House officials introduced these initiatives as a part of President Joe Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda, aimed at increasing federal contracting dollars to socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses to 15% by 2025, a White House press release stated.

Notably, the Biden administration has already fueled spending on contracts to small businesses, directing nearly $163 billion in federal contracting dollars to small businesses in 2022, with $70 billion allocated to disadvantaged groups.

“By finally banning the box on SBA loan applications, we are not just changing policy; we are eliminating unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship, boosting our economy, creating well-paying jobs, and generating Black wealth,” Horsford continued.

The new rule change aims to rectify historical resource disparities and growth opportunities, particularly those disproportionately affecting Black business owners. As the CBC asserts, removing the SBA box paves the way for a surge in entrepreneurship within Black communities.