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Small Business Tips

How to find small business loans for women

Justine Rabideau

The impact of women-owned small businesses on the U.S. economy is enormous. Data from the Census Bureau's Survey of Business Owners reports:

  • Women-owned businesses generate $264 billion in payroll each year
  • 36 percent of all businesses are women-owned
  • 99.9 percent of all women-owned businesses have fewer than 500 employees. They're considered small businesses
  • Women entrepreneurs generate $2.5 trillion in sales annually

The impact of women-owned businesses

Women make up more than 47 percent of America's workforce. In more than 40 percent of U.S. households, women are the primary source of income. There's no denying the impact of women-owned businesses on the economy.

Women still face unique obstacles in the business world. This is even though women own over 7.8 million businesses in the U.S.

Where to find small business loans for women

The OWBO oversees Women's Business Centers for the SBA. The WBC network is one of the best places to find resources and small business loans for women. Training and counseling are available at WBCs for women entrepreneurs. The SBA loan program offers many opportunities for lending.

Through the SBA and WBC, you find information about federal contracting opportunities. The government has a goal to achieve five percent of contracts for women-owned small businesses. You'll discover matchmaking events and resources to help you understand eligibility requirements.

SBA-guaranteed loans are not loans provided through the SBA. They're just backed by the SBA to reduce the risk to the lender.

You'll need to find a lender who offers SBA-guaranteed loans. The SBA has a tool called Lender Match that will help you find local lenders.

The process to get an SBA loan is complex. You'll need to have:

  • Sound business plan
  • Experience
  • Excellent personal credit history

The SBA also has an investment program and innovative research program. This is open to all small businesses and it encourages women to apply. Ask about different programs at your local SBA or SCORE office.

Many private lenders have specialized programs for women entrepreneurs. Before signing any contract, make sure to look for hidden fees and upfront costs.

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Alternative sources of funding

Crowdfunding is another popular way to fund businesses these days. You don't have to give up equity in your company. Also, your "investors" aren't expecting a financial return. Expect to give a "gift" as thanks for contributions. Always read the fine print before beginning a crowdfunding campaign.

Grants available for women

The grant market is highly competitive, but you don't have to repay grant money. To find women's small business grants, you'll have to do some research. The federal government grant database is at Pay close attention to the requirements for the grant that interests you. Specifically, you don't want to invest time in a grant for which you don't qualify.

Other women's small business grants are available through:

  • SBA - InnovateHer Challenge
  • Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program
  • Amber Grant
  • IdeaCafe Grant - although this grant is open to all small business owners, the majority of winners have been women
  • #GirlBoss Foundation
  • Cartier Women's Initiative Award

Follow industry blogs and financial forums to find even more opportunities. Watch out for scams. You shouldn't pay money for a subscription or list of grants because you can find many through a Google search. Your local SCORE office may be able to direct you to local and state funding opportunities, too.

Applying for a grant can be just as time-consuming as requesting a loan. You should have a sound business plan before you start. You may need to find data and studies that support your ideas and business.

Your business finances will need to be in order. Most women's small business grants are not only for women-owned businesses but also need to support women and girls in some fashion.

Hiring a grant writer is a complex decision. Grant writers do not work on commission or for a percentage of the grant. Keep in mind that no one has the same passion for your work as you.

Look for a grant writer with experience in your sector, if you choose to take this route. You'll want someone familiar with your industry to save time and get better results.

Financing your business

Getting a loan for your small business can help you take your company to the next level without having to give equity. Don't rush into financing without checking the contract to know your rights and responsibilities. Make sure you can meet your obligations by having a budget that works.

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