Funding your business might sound like a simple process: You apply for a loan, you get the capital, you put it toward your business plan. Right? Unfortunately, it's not quite as easy as that. And, for women business owners, getting business funding can be even more difficult.
U.S. Census data suggests that nearly 10 million women own businesses (which accounts for roughly 36 percent of all firms in the country). In fact, women-owned businesses have witnessed a notable 45 percent increase between 2007 and 2016 — a rate that remains five times the national average. Specifically, since 2007, nearly 1,100 net new women-owned businesses have been launched each day.
That's all well and good, except for the fact that women, who own roughly a third of this country's small businesses, receive just 10 percent of venture funding. According to a 2016 report from CrunchBase, just seven percent of venture capital partners are women, and this gender imbalance fuels a systematical bias against female entrepreneurs; in other words, the gender dynamics amongst those who have the money to distribute affect those who need the funding. That's largely why companies pitched by men are about 40 percent more likely to receive funding than companies led by women.
Venture capitalists invested more than $58 billion in startups in 2016, but only two percent of that funding went to women, according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review.
So, if it's so challenging to find funds for your business as a woman, where can you turn? We've done the homework for you. Here are seven small business loans that are ideal for women business owners.
Lendio is a lending marketplace where female business owners can go to get matched with a whole gamut of lenders (there are more than 75!). In fact, the platform has helped small business owners get over $1.4 billion with more than 73,000 loans. Business owners are responsible for submitting a brief application (it's online, and it only takes 15 minutes to complete), and then the platform will offer up lenders for which you can qualify. They then simply choose your favorite amongst them, finish up the application with Lendio's help and wait for your approval. Lendio will get you the funding in as little as 24 hours after your approval.
A loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA) is ideal for women with great credit and qualifiable annual revenue, who need a long-term business loan. This application does take some time, but it's worth it. That's because SBA loans offer some of the most competitive interest rates (4% to 9.5%) and payment terms (long-term financing like seven-year terms and longer) out there on the market. The SBA loans come with a government guarantee since it's a government administration; this means that lenders may find qualified business owners less risky and be more willing to work with you even if you're just starting out. Beyond that, the SBA offers several programs, from microloans for startups to loans specifically for purchasing real estate or equipment to loans for general purposes for businesses.
Kabbage is one of the most popular automated loan services out there. Business owners apply online and get approved online, so you can gain access to funds for your business almost immediately upon approval. All you have to do is sign onto the website, share some information about you and your business and then connect your business accounting software. Kabbage will give you a decision about your approval in minutes and, if approved, you'll be able to access your funds through PayPal, via a deposit in your bank account and/or via a Kabbage card. Kabbage also offers an entire page full of resources for women-owned businesses that you may find helpful, as well.
QuarterSpot is a great place to go if you need a short-term business loan and don't have the best credit. In fact, even if you have poor credit, you may be able to qualify for a loan with QuaterSpot for up to $250,000 with no pre-payment fees or penalties — and you can get approved and funded in less than 24 hours. QuaterSpot has already approved up to $3 billion in loans to date. Just be warned that it comes at the price of high rates and percentage-based repayment terms. While this can be costly, it can also help you actually build your credit in the process. So QuarterSpot isn't the best loan out there, but it may just be the best loan to help you get better loans down the line.
Fundbox is another great option for women business owners with less-than-ideal credit and low-financing qualifications with other lenders. This lender only requires a 500 personal credit score, as it assesses the rest of your current financial situation in order to approve or deny your application. You can connect your Fundbox application to either your accounting software or your business bank account to qualify for a line of credit. If approved, you can draw funds anytime, as the funds will simply transfer to your account as soon as the next business day. And, don't worry, you’ll always see your interest beforehand, and you'll only pay when you draw funds. No penalty to repay early.
Funding Circle is a peer-to-peer lending option for established women-owned businesses that need financing for things like an expansion or refinancing debt. It offers low rates (as low as 4.99% interest rates) and longer terms up to five years), and you can get the funding in as little as three business days. In fact, 77,000 businesses have financed their goals by borrowing $10.9 billion through Funding Circle. The catch? You have to have been in business for two years. Funding Circle also has a page full of resources for women business owners, as well.
Accion isn't a traditional lender. It focuses on global challenges, with a commitment to helping disadvantaged groups get funding (i.e. women). It's mission, after all, is "to give people the financial tools they need to improve their lives," and it's vision is to "build a financially inclusive world with access to economic opportunity for all." That's why Accion asks to hear your unique story as a business owner. While this means that the application process is quite long and involved, Accion gives you a real chance to sell yourself.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.
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