02/08/2013 08:19 am ET Updated Apr 10, 2013

The Key to Brewing-Up Jobs: Innovative Partnerships Supporting Small Businesses

In terms of launching a small business, not a lot has changed since I first started Samuel Adams. Twenty-nine years ago, I dreamed of starting a brewery -- an unheard of idea back then -- but lacked the means to make it happen. I looked for loans through traditional banks but was turned down every time. On top of that, I had never run a business before and lacked the nuts-and-bolts guidance and advice that's often just as important, if not more important, than the financing.

While hard work and persistence allowed me to achieve my American Dream, there are many small businesses that have the same potential, but similar to my experience, are viewed as too risky by traditional lenders. What is absolutely critical to recognize is that these are the businesses that are leading the way in job creation and economic growth within their communities. In fact, proof of their impact can be seen in last week's employment reports, which showed that small businesses are doing most of the hiring and are key to our continued economic recovery. Helping this critical segment is why micro-lending organizations like Accion are necessary.

In an effort to help spur job growth and support the men and women who have a dream and a passion to start and successfully run a small business, Samuel Adams has partnered with non-profit micro-lender Accion to create the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Program. Bringing together a unique recipe of micro-financing and real-world coaching/mentoring, our program helps low-to-moderate income food & beverage small businesses (and yes, even other craft brewers) achieve their dreams of successful business ownership. We chose to work with Accion because we wanted to find not just the best microlending partner, but an organization with the same entrepreneurial spirit that we have at Samuel Adams. We found that partner in Accion.

Since it began in 2008, Brewing the American Dream has provided $1.9 million in loans to 220 businesses nationwide, coached or mentored more than 3,000 small business owners, and created or saved nearly 1,400 jobs. Additionally, all loan payments are recycled back into the fund so they can be repurposed into new loans to eventually create more jobs.

From restaurants to beverage suppliers to food carts, the program is having a significant impact on the small business community. In large part that's because we're not just slipping a check under the door. The funding we provide goes hand-in-hand with actionable mentorship and real-world coaching from different experts -- including our very own employees -- on everything from how to sell to a potential retail customer to understanding competitive pricing.

As traditional institutions continue to be unable or willing to support the small business community, it's imperative that we create more of these partnerships to deliver real value in helping up-and-coming small business owners grow their businesses and hire. Our work with Accion is doing just that, and we aim to continue to empower small business owners so they too can achieve their American Dream.

Jim Koch is brewer and founder of Samuel Adams

For more information about Samuel Adams Brewing The American Dream, visit