Surefire Ways to Secure Financing for Women-Owned Businesses

Women entrepreneurs start and own nearly half of all businesses in the United States, employ 9.4 million workers, generate $1.9 trillion in revenue and represent all industries.

But it’s known to be an unlevel playing field for women-owned small businesses, as well as entrepreneurs of color, especially when it comes to funding opportunities.

Women business owners came into the pandemic less likely to have their loan applications approved or approved for less than they asked for, compared to their male counterparts. And this pandemic-tattered economy has hit them harder.

That’s why it’s even more important, says the lending platform company Funding Circle, for women small business owners to do research.

“Knowing which small business loans are available for women and how to qualify can help increase the odds of being approved,” says a post by Funding Circle.

“Beyond loans for women, there are also grants and other resources designed to level the playing field and help women business owners succeed.”

If you’re a woman who owns a small business, check out these funding options.

State and Local Grant Programs

Several cities and states across the country have launched programs since the pandemic began to assist small businesses owned by women in their communities, including grant and loan options.

For example, in Connecticut, the Equity Match Grant Program offers funding opportunities to women and business owners of color in that state. The $1 million-plus fund includes $525,000 from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, according to Fran Pastore, CEO of the nonprofit Women’s Business Development Council, which runs the fund.

The program aims to ease the disparate impact the pandemic has had on many small businesses in Connecticut, particularly those focused on food, retail, hospitality and other areas where women owners predominate, writes Jesse Leavenworth in a Hartford Courant story.

“Women-owned businesses statewide have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, forcing too many business owners to choose between paying rent and making payroll, or whether to move their business online to stay open,” Bysiewicz said in the story.

PPP Relief Programs

Keep an eye out for the latest options for financial assistance in the federal government’s Covid-19 relief package, as funding availability was recently expanded for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, a category that often includes women and owners of color.

The tweaks that expanded the Paycheck Protection Program included more loan money for sole proprietors and independent contractors, who could receive thousands of dollars under new PPP applicants, reports the Kansas City Business Journal.

These so-called “nonemployer firms” may have no employees but they account for about 80 percent of all businesses, according to SBA data in the KCBC story. Yet they were largely left out of the previous way of calculating PPP loans, writes Andy Medici in the article.

Other pandemic-related loan options include the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides emergency assistance to small businesses as part of the new Economic Aid Act, which extended the EIDL deadline to Dec. 31, 2021.

SBA Loans

The Small Business Administration has several (non-disaster) options for loans and grants aimed at women small business owners. (The agency doesn’t make loans directly. It guarantees loans offered through its network of lending partners.)

Among them are the SBA 8(a) Business Development loan program, designed to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace, and the SBA Express Loan, which is good for smaller financing needs.

There is not a collateral requirement for women-owned business loans under $25,000 in the 7(a) or Express Loan programs, according to the Funding Circle post.

Another option would be the 7(a) program, through which your business could be eligible to borrow up to $5 million, with a repayment term ranging from five to 10 years. You can take up to 25 years to repay a 7a loan if you’re financing a real estate purchase, says Funding Circle.