It is no secret that climbing the corporate ladder has been a task made more difficult for women due to discrimination and outdated policies, procedures, and biases. However, thanks to the small business revolution and the possibilities presented by a connected Internet world, these restrictions of the past are being thrown off by business women with an independent streak.
National Association of Women Business Owners recently conducted a study, the results of which are quite promising for women in business. According to this study, there are 9.1 million women-owned businesses across the country. These businesses create $1.4 trillion in sales.
This spike in woman-owned small businesses has resulted in more services that are designed specifically with the female entrepreneur in mind.
Every business person knows that having the capital to start or grow and expand your business is essential. Today we are going to be looking at ten excellent options for small business financial help that is specifically for business women.
1. United States Department of Agriculture Loan
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a wide variety of loans serving a wide variety of individuals across the societal, economic, and demographic spectrum.
If your business venture is in the agricultural vein, the “Minority and Women Farmers and Ranchers” loan is a good option. On the loan application, applicants will have to voluntarily provide ethnicity, race, and gender to be considered for this kind of targeted loan funding.
2. Small Business Administration Loans
The United States Small Business Administration is a terrific source of loan funding for small businesses just getting started and those wishing to grow and expand.
Within the Administration is the Office of Women’s Business Ownership. It aims, according to their website is to help “women entrepreneurs through programs coordinated by SBA district offices. Programs include business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital.”
The SBA opens a variety of doors to loan funding as well as assists with competing for government contracts.
3. Community Development Financial Institutions
If you are new to the small business loan scene, chances are you might not have heard of this organization. On their website, they give the following description of who they are and what they do:
“Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, are mission-driven financial institutions that have been certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. CDFIs include credit unions, banks, loan funds, and venture capital funds…”
Located all around the country, CDFIs are a great option for loan funding for your business.
4. 8(a) Business Development Program
The 8(a) Business Development Program is a specific program that is offered by the Small Business Administration. Its purpose is to help businesses that are at a disadvantage compared to other businesses. The program offers a wide range of forms of assistance.
Thousands of entrepreneurs have taken advantage of this program with good results.
This program does require that you meet certain qualifications and become certified. However, it does have many benefits including specialized business training, counseling, marketing assistance and high-level executive development. There is also the potential of eligibility for assistance in obtaining access to surplus government property and supplies, SBA-guaranteed loans, and bonding assistance.
5. Small Business Loans
More of a traditional approach, small business short-term loans offered by financial institutions are often the “go-to” choice for small businesses. While not necessarily particularly tailored to women entrepreneurs, you will often find that financial institutions are eager to help you start or grow and expand your business.
Traditional business loans can be hard to come by and generally are for a large amount of money. However, microloans, as the name implies, are loans of smaller amounts, typically up to $50,000 which can be a perfect fit for businesses that need that little extra boost to get going.
Microloans often come from non-profits and mission-based organizations. This makes them different in several ways – the organization takes a more personal look at the business, your character matters more than your credit score, and they can be much easier to apply for and attain.
Since many organizations dealing in microloans are mission-based, finding one that lines up with the values and mission of your business is another great benefit of this type of loan.
7. Business Grants for Women
It doesn’t take much looking to find business grants that are designed specifically for business women. There are many possibilities, and your options are only limited by how much time you must look!
For example, there is the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award, the Halstead Grant, the Amber Grant, the Idea Cafe Grant, and the list goes on. A website called GrantsforWomen.org has a “comprehensive directory” of grants designed expressly for women.
8. Crowdfunding Sites for Women
Crowdfunding is a fantastic way to raise money for your business. The best part about it is that you do not have to worry about paying interest!
There are quite a few crowdfunding sites that assist women in business. One is called Women You Should Fund which was an outgrowth of the website WomenYouShouldKnow.com. Two other notable platforms are iFundWomen and Fund Dreamer (which does not charge any fees for women-led campaigns and matches what you raise up to 1%).
9. Equity Financing
Using equity financing, businesses can raise funds in exchange for a stake in the company. Whether through equity crowdfunding, a firm, or some other method, when you don’t have the capital you need, equity financing can be a great option.
10. Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program
Government contracts are a great way for a business to earn a good reputation and gain stability. However, it is a competitive market, and small businesses can get left behind if they do not have the right tools.
While not a small business loan per se, the WOSB Federal Contracting Program allows contracting officers to set aside certain federal contracts small businesses that are owned by women. This, of course, evens the playing field and gives woman-owned businesses a great opportunity to gain new business.
Thanks to unrivaled tenacity, creativity, and dedication, women are becoming business owners in record numbers. Through this article, we have looked at some of the specific resources set aside to help women-owned businesses thrive. With this knowledge, navigating the small business loan scene will be much easier.