IBM Unveils $1B Small-Biz Technology Financing Program

IBM is putting a major effort behind its small-business support — to the tune of $1 billion.

The company says it will offer that amount in financing to help credit-qualified small and medium-sized businesses looking to purchase its products and services, picking up the slack left by financial institutions that have cut off acess to badly-needed capital.

It may seem odd that the quintessential big-iron enterprise player would make such a move, but IBM isn’t foolish. It has a decent financing arm called IBM Global Financing, which usually caters to enterprise customers to make large-scale purchases.

In this case, IBM is reaching down to the smaller firms. In making the announcement, the company noted that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has consistently said that well over 50 percent of small businesses fail within their first five years due to lack of capital.

“We’re coming out of a recession, and a lot of times, it’s the small business entrepreneur who leads the way.  Significant efforts need to be made to provide a strong foundation for SMBs to establish their business for growth,” said Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM Midmarket Business in a statement announcing the new initiative.

Monshaw said in a statement that IBM is setting up a system that could approve funding for projects in as fast as 60 seconds. Many of the offerings are less than $5 per user per month (over 36 months) for 100 users and can be up and running in a matter of two to three days, IBM said.

IBM will offer simple, flexible lease and loan packages, some starting at as low as 0 percent for 12 months with no money down. That money, of course, will go toward purchasing IBM technology and services they need to begin to transform their businesses.

As part of the announcement, IBM also launched a set of product and services offerings that includes workload-optimized systems combining hardware and software and services specifically designed to address SMB’s needs. This includes technologies from IBM’s recent cloud, analytics and security acquisitions, such as Cast Iron, BigFix, SPSS, Netezza and Cognos.

In addition to the above offerings, IBM plans to offer a variety of ways for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses with no-charge access to advanced technologies, leading business and technology experts and training through its Global Entrepreneur Program. IBM will help SMBs bring their products to market faster through its global network of 40 Innovation Centers.

Andy Patrizio is a technology journalist and a regular contributor for