Women face unique challenges in many areas. Female entrepreneurs seeking funding are no different, even though studies show they approach funding in the same way as their male counterparts.
As recently as 1988, women business owners had to have a male guarantor for business loans. The Women’s Business Ownership Act put an end to that, but women are still less likely to have assets in their names, or credit history. They are also less likely to be educated and have more demands on their time from family.
In the past, women entrepreneurs have had to rely on savings and credit cards to fund their businesses, but steps are being taken to level the playing field. The following is not an exhaustive list of resources but will give you an idea of what is available.
Banks and other traditional lending institutes still have rigorous requirements and long processing times for loans. They do offer a range of options, though, and are making efforts to grant funding to minorities, including women.
Online lenders tend to have higher rates than traditional lenders but less onerous requirements and quicker response times. Some online lenders have specifically tailored products for women entrepreneurs.
Peer-to-peer funding (or crowdfunding) is increasingly popular and accessible. Solutions can be innovative, and present a good opportunity to showcase your business, and to network.
- Grameen America (https://www.grameenamerica.org/program) facilitates microloans to women entrepreneurs from impoverished communities.
- The Opportunity Fund (https://www.opportunityfund.org/) has signed on to the Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights and provides microfinancing under it.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)
The Tory Burch Foundation provides women access to affordable loans through Community Lenders http://www.toryburchfoundation.org/programs/capital/.
The Women’s Venture Fund offers advisory services, events, and loans to women in business. Find details on their website at https://womensventurefund.org/.
The Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA provides assistance uniquely tailored to women business owners. They can assist with sources and applications for funding, and act as guarantors. They also provide business training and counseling. For a full view of how they can assist your business, look at their website https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/grow-your-business/women-owned-businesses.
There are a growing number of grants (government and private) aimed at assisting women in business:
- The American Association of University Women Foundation has been advocating for women and girls since 1881. They support female scholars, teachers, activists, and businesswomen. Details of assistance can be found on their website aauw.org.
- You can find a comprehensive list of the grants available from government agencies at grants.gov. You will also find links to download the grants.gov mobile app.
- WomanOwned members can find business grants and state programs at http://www.womanowned.com/features/grants-and-funding.aspx.
- The Eileen Fisher Grants for Women Business Owners (https://www.eileenfisher.com/social-consciousness/grants-overview) supports wholly women-owned businesses that demonstrate social consciousness, sustainability, and innovation.