NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - This spring, NYSE Euronext ( NYX) launched the NYSE Big StartUp, an initiative meant to connect start-up companies and entrepreneurs with corporate America. NYSE's hope is that by having big corporations support their smaller counterparts -- with improving procurement, networking, business development, training, marketing and information sharing -- the ones where there is high potential for job creation will thrive. As part of the initiative, the exchange created the NYSE Job Growth Fund, in which it committed $1.5 million to nonprofit microlender Accion to disperse to small businesses. So far the NYSE Big StartUp hasn't had much effect, but the hope is that going forward more fast-growing companies will be able to expand and hire from the initiative. "The money has just been distributed," says Gina Harman, CEO of Accion U.S. Network. "What we have been spending our time on ... are the other programs that are a part of the Big StartUp." Harman is referring to workshops led by Accion and Yelp ( YELP) on small business marketing and financing, as well as getting more public companies to support the initiative. The free workshops, which kicked off in June in Tuscon, Ariz., will visit 10 cities in total. Its next stop is Chicago on September 18. Microlending seems to be picking up in the U.S. Just this week, Biz2Credit released its monthly loan report, stating that alternative lenders, which includes microlenders, approved the highest rate of loans as a percentage of applications in August since the index began a year ago. Meanwhile loans approved by big banks fell. The Small Business Administration distributed nearly $47.5 million in microloans during its 2011 fiscal year through 170 nonprofit lenders. It was the largest amount in the agency's history, even as the average loan size declined from about $14,200 to $11.750, the The Wall Street Journal reported. So how does a small business owner get a piece of the microlending pie? "What we do is almost always visit the business owner in his/her place of business to get a sense of the business itself, but as important to get a sense of the business owner's commitment to the sector
and the determination to manage the business," Harman says. Loan approvals are "almost never" about a 300-page business plan, she adds.