In 1980, Congress created a new category of investment companies to channel capital into privately held small businesses. Known as business development corporations or BDCs, these specialized closed-end funds took off slowly, remaining for many years under the radar of most mainstream investors.

That was then. Today, tempting yields of 10% or higher, along with a heightened awareness of alternative investments, have fueled investor interest, rapid asset growth, public offerings and increased attention from investment banks and financial advisors.

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