In the last ten years, women-owned businesses experienced rapid growth, particularly in the retail and services sector.
Critical to this growth – aside from motivation, hard graft and an unstoppable entrepreneurial spirit – was access to capital. However, if you are a woman business owner looking to start a new business venture or grow your existing enterprise, finding the right kind of financing can be challenging.
While federal and state government agencies do not provide many grants for women business owners, there are a limited number of loans available to help women start and expand their business.
Finding the time to navigate the array of available loans can be time consuming at best.
Below is a summary of available government-backed loans and grants for women-owned small businesses, together with some alternative financing options.
Government Financing for Women-Owned Small Businesses
As I mentioned above, the federal government and state agencies provide only a limited number of financing programs specifically for women business owners.
To help you save time and identify the right financing for your business, a good starting point is an easy-to-use Loans and Grants Tool on Business.gov. Simply match your business profile and needs to questions on the tool and, based on your answers, the system will identify Small Business Administration (SBA)-backed financing programs and other funding that you may be eligible to apply for.
It’s also worth knowing that, during these recessionary times, the SBA recently announced that it has enhanced its loan programs to help the agency’s lending partners (i.e. banks) increase access to capital for small businesses. With a new alternative base interest rate and improved flexibility in loan pool structures, the SBA hopes to re-energize the lenders and ease small business access to capital.
Alternative Financing Options
There are alternative funding options to traditional SBA-backed programs that specifically help women start and expand their businesses. These include ACCION USA Small Business Loans, as well as state-specific organizations that offer financing to empower women in business.
The same Loans and Grants Tool I mention above can help you identify these organizations according to the state in which you operate your business. Alternatively, you can find more information and direct links to organizations in your state here.
Other Women-Owned Business Online Resources
- Start, Grow and Expand your Women-Owned Business – Find information on government programs that help women entrepreneurs start, grow and expand their businesses with this Women-Owned Business Guide.
- Finance Your Business – Womanowned.com has links and information about Grant Opportunities Available for Women Business Owners.
- Found a Loan, Now Secure It – Get tips for preparing your loan proposal in my blog post, How to Prepare a Loan Proposal.