Skip to content

11 Best Small-Business Loans for Women

By Randa Kriss
Last updated on May 21, 2024
Edited bySally Lauckner
Fact checked and reviewed
Bank loans, SBA loans, online loans and microloans are some of the financing options available to women-owned businesses.

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Businesses run by women are less likely to be approved for a small-business loan than those run by men, according to the Federal Reserve. However, small-business loans for women are available, and resources like government-backed Women's Business Centers offer training to help bridge the funding gap.
Here are some of the best loans for women-owned businesses — including options for minority women, women veterans and those with startups or bad credit — plus information on grants and other programs for female entrepreneurs.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Here are 11 small-business loans for women

LenderNerdWallet RatingMax loan amountMin. credit scoreNext steps

SBA 7(a) loan

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Best for SBA loans for women-owned businesses

$5,000,000650

with Fundera by NerdWallet

SBA Express loan

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Best for Low-interest business loans for women

$500,000650

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Fora Financial - Online term loan

with Fundera by NerdWallet

4.5/5

Best for Small-business loans for women with bad credit

$1,500,000570

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Fundbox - Line of credit

5.0/5

Best for Startup business loans for women

$150,000600
Read Review

Accion Opportunity Fund - Small Business Working Capital Loan

5.0/5

Best for Business loans for minority women

$250,000570
Read Review

Bluevine - Line of credit

with Fundera by NerdWallet

5.0/5

Best for Fast business loans for women

$250,000625

with Fundera by NerdWallet

OnDeck - Online term loan

with Fundera by NerdWallet

5.0/5

Best for Easy business loans for women

$250,000625

with Fundera by NerdWallet

SBA Microloan

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Best for Microloans for women

$50,000620

with Fundera by NerdWallet

National Funding - Online Term Loan

with Fundera by NerdWallet

4.0/5

Best for Unsecured loans for women

$500,000600

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Huntington National Bank - Lift Local Business Program

Best for Business loans for women veterans

$150,000Undisclosed
Read Review

Bank of America Business Advantage Unsecured Term Loan

5.0/5

Best for Bank business loans for women

Undisclosed700
Read Review

Here are 11 small-business loans for women

Best for SBA loans for women-owned businesses

U.S. Small Business Administration

Max Amount

$5,000,000

Min. Credit Score

650

Best for Low-interest business loans for women

U.S. Small Business Administration

Max Amount

$500,000

Min. Credit Score

650

Best for Small-business loans for women with bad credit

Fora Financial

Max Amount

$1,500,000

Min. Credit Score

570

Best for Startup business loans for women

Fundbox

Max Amount

$150,000

Min. Credit Score

600

Best for Business loans for minority women

Accion

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

570

Best for Fast business loans for women

Bluevine

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Easy business loans for women

OnDeck

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Microloans for women

U.S. Small Business Administration

Max Amount

$50,000

Min. Credit Score

620

Best for Unsecured loans for women

National Funding

Max Amount

$500,000

Min. Credit Score

600

Best for Business loans for women veterans

Huntington National Bank

Max Amount

$150,000

Min. Credit Score

Undisclosed

Best for Bank business loans for women

Bank of America

Max Amount

Undisclosed

Min. Credit Score

700

I'M INTERESTED IN:

Our pick for

SBA loans for women-owned businesses

SBA 7(a) loans are a good option for long-term financing and maximum loan limits of up to $5 million.

SBA 7(a) loan

Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$5,000,000
Min. credit score
650
Est. APR
11.50-15.00%
7(a) loans are issued by private lenders and backed by the SBA. They offer long repayment terms and low interest rates.
Lowest interest rate

Max loan

$5,000,000

Min. Credit score

650

Apr range

11.50-15.00%

7(a) loans are issued by private lenders and backed by the SBA. They offer long repayment terms and low interest rates.
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Low-interest business loans for women

The SBA Express loan program offers low interest rates and faster funding with loan amounts up to $500,000.

SBA Express loan

Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$500,000
Min. credit score
650
Est. APR
11.50-15.00%
SBA Express loans are available in amounts up to $500,000 as either a term loan or line of credit. These loans typically fund faster than standard 7(a) loans.

Max loan

$500,000

Min. Credit score

650

Apr range

11.50-15.00%

SBA Express loans are available in amounts up to $500,000 as either a term loan or line of credit. These loans typically fund faster than standard 7(a) loans.
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Small-business loans for women with bad credit

You may be able to qualify for a business loan with Fora Financial with a credit score of 500 or higher and at least six months in business.

Fora Financial - Online term loan

Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$1,500,000
Min. credit score
570
Fora Financial can be a good fit for borrowers who may fall short of qualifying for traditional bank financing or young but established small businesses looking for speedy financing.

Max loan

$1,500,000

Min. Credit score

570

Fora Financial can be a good fit for borrowers who may fall short of qualifying for traditional bank financing or young but established small businesses looking for speedy financing.
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Startup business loans for women

Fundbox has flexible minimum qualification requirements of at least six months in business and a credit score of 600.

Fundbox - Line of credit

Max Loan Amount
$150,000
Min. credit score
600
Est. APR
36.00-99.00%
Fundbox offers a business line of credit to fill a cash flow gap, and qualifying is easier than with other lenders.
May fund quickly

Max loan

$150,000

Min. Credit score

600

Apr range

36.00-99.00%

Fundbox offers a business line of credit to fill a cash flow gap, and qualifying is easier than with other lenders.

Our pick for

Business loans for minority women

Nonprofit lender Accion Opportunity Fund says 90% of its borrowers are women, people of color and/or low-to-moderate income.

Accion Opportunity Fund - Small Business Working Capital Loan

Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
570
Est. APR
8.49-24.99%
Accion is a good option for businesses that haven't been able to secure traditional financing. The lender targets its funding efforts toward minority, women and low-to-moderate-income entrepreneurs.

Max loan

$250,000

Min. Credit score

570

Apr range

8.49-24.99%

Accion is a good option for businesses that haven't been able to secure traditional financing. The lender targets its funding efforts toward minority, women and low-to-moderate-income entrepreneurs.

Our pick for

Fast business loans for women

Bluevine can provide funding for business lines of credit within 24 hours and requires a minimum credit score of 625.

Bluevine - Line of credit

Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
625
Est. APR
20.00-50.00%
Bluevine's line of credit provides fast working capital for short-term borrowing needs.
May fund quickly

Max loan

$250,000

Min. Credit score

625

Apr range

20.00-50.00%

Bluevine's line of credit provides fast working capital for short-term borrowing needs.
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Easy business loans for women

You may be able to qualify for a term loan with OnDeck with a year in business and a credit score of 625 or higher.

OnDeck - Online term loan

Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
625
Est. APR
27.20-99.90%
OnDeck offers a fast term loan for small-business owners with less-than-stellar credit who want to expand.
May fund quickly

Max loan

$250,000

Min. Credit score

625

Apr range

27.20-99.90%

OnDeck offers a fast term loan for small-business owners with less-than-stellar credit who want to expand.
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Microloans for women

Offered through nonprofit community-based organizations, microloans can provide funding up to $50,000 for working capital and other needs.

SBA Microloan

Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$50,000
Min. credit score
620
Est. APR
8.00-13.00%
SBA microloans are small-sized loans funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and issued through approved intermediaries, typically nonprofit and community lenders.

Max loan

$50,000

Min. Credit score

620

Apr range

8.00-13.00%

SBA microloans are small-sized loans funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and issued through approved intermediaries, typically nonprofit and community lenders.
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Unsecured loans for women

National Funding doesn’t require collateral to secure a loan and has flexible requirements of six months in business and a minimum credit score of 600.

National Funding - Online Term Loan

Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Max Loan Amount
$500,000
Min. credit score
600
Borrowers who can't qualify for more traditional loan options might consider National Funding for fast access to capital.

Max loan

$500,000

Min. Credit score

600

Borrowers who can't qualify for more traditional loan options might consider National Funding for fast access to capital.
Read Review

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Our pick for

Business loans for women veterans

Huntington National Bank’s Lift Local Business loan program can be a source of funding for women veterans who need capital to start a business or operate an existing one.

Huntington National Bank - Lift Local Business Program

Max Loan Amount
$150,000
Min. credit score
Undisclosed
Huntington National’s Lift Local Business loan program is designed to support minority-, woman- and veteran-owned small businesses from startup and on.

Max loan

$150,000

Min. Credit score

Undisclosed

Huntington National’s Lift Local Business loan program is designed to support minority-, woman- and veteran-owned small businesses from startup and on.

Our pick for

Bank business loans for women

Bank of America offers a flexible term loan that doesn’t require collateral and can be used for a range of business purposes.

Bank of America Business Advantage Unsecured Term Loan

Max Loan Amount
Undisclosed
Min. credit score
700
Bank of America’s term loan offers competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms — with no collateral required.

Max loan

Undisclosed

Min. Credit score

700

Bank of America’s term loan offers competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms — with no collateral required.

How Much Do You Need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

Types of small-business loans for women

The right loan for your business is typically the one that costs you the least while fitting your funding needs. Women-owned companies may be able to tap into multiple types of business loans, including:

SBA loans

There are several SBA loans that female entrepreneurs can use for financing, including the flagship SBA 7(a) loan program. Banks, online lenders and other financial institutions offer these loans, which are backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The SBA 7(a) loan program offers low interest rates and long repayment terms — making it a good option for a variety of use cases. To date, small businesses that are more than 50% female-owned have received $2.8 billion in SBA 7(a) funding in the 2024 fiscal year, according to the SBA.
To qualify, you’ll need an established business, good credit and solid finances.
SBA 7(a) loans are traditionally slow to fund, but if you need access to capital more quickly, the SBA Express loan provides a faster timeline. The SBA strives to return decisions on Express loans within 36 hours.
These SBA loans have smaller maximum funding amounts of $500,000, but still offer competitive interest rates and repayment terms for those who qualify.

🤓 Nerdy Tip

Utilizing the free resources offered by the SBA-affiliated agencies and nonprofit organizations, many of which are specifically designed for women business owners, can help you prepare a business plan, navigate the loan application process and secure funding.

Bank business loans

Small-business loans from banks typically come with the lowest costs but toughest eligibility qualifications. You will likely need good personal credit (a score in the 700s), at least a couple years in businesses and strong annual revenue to qualify.
When seeking financing, 36% of women-owned businesses apply for funding at large banks and 26% at small banks — the highest among all funding sources — according to data released in May 2023 from the Federal Reserve Banks’ Small Business Credit Survey. And when considering all funding sources, applications for women-owned businesses had a 45% approval rate.

Online loans

If you have a lower credit score (a score between 300 and 689) or have been in business for less than two years, an alternative online lender could be a good choice.
These lenders offer multiple products (including term loans, lines of credit, equipment financing and invoice factoring), specialize in speedy funding and have looser qualification requirements than banks. The trade-off for those conveniences, however, is borrowing costs may be higher than other options.

Microloans

Many mission-based nonprofit organizations offer microloans to local businesses, often focusing on businesses owned by women, people of color and veterans.
For example, Grameen America provides first-time business loans ranging from $500 to $2,500 to low-income women who live within 15 miles of one of its branch locations.
Microloans can be a good option if you can’t qualify with a bank or online lender or have a small financing gap.

Small-business loans for minority women

Female business owners in historically underserved communities can access funding from SBA lenders, nonprofit organizations and specialty programs — and may have more success with these options than applying for traditional business loans.
Nonprofit lenders and community development companies who applied for the new Community Advantage Small Business Lending Company license can offer funding through the 7(a) loan program. CA SBLCs prioritize small-business loans for women and other borrowers in underserved markets.
Many nonprofit lenders also offer microloans and other forms of business financing for women- and minority-owned businesses in their communities outside of the SBA loan program. For example, Accion Opportunity Fund describes nearly 90% of its clients as women, people of color or low-to-moderate income borrowers.
U.S. Bank has a special Business Diversity Lending Program that offers loans and lines of credit to women-, veteran- and minority-owned businesses with more flexible qualifications than its standard business loans.

Small-business loans for women with bad credit

If you’re a female entrepreneur with bad credit, it may be more difficult to get a loan for your business. There are a few options for bad-credit business loans, but keep in mind interest rates may be higher than alternatives.
Some online lenders are willing to work with businesses with bad credit, especially if they have strong finances. Fora Financial, for example, only requires a minimum credit score of
570
and you may be able to work with Fundbox with a
600
credit score.
Nonprofit lenders and community financial development institutions (CDFIs) also offer small-business loans for women with bad credit. These lenders often provide funding to traditionally underserved business owners, which can include those with poor or limited credit.
For instance, TruFund is a CDFI that operates in New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Georgia. The organization issues a variety of types of business loans, including term loans that only require a minimum credit score of 600 to qualify.

Startup business loans for women

Startup funding is elusive, but targeting the right lenders and programs can improve your chances of securing a startup business loan for your women-owned business.
The SBA microloan program is designed specifically for startups and early-stage businesses. Startups have received nearly 25% of all SBA microloans since the start of the SBA’s 2024 fiscal year.
SBA microloans are issued by nonprofit organizations. Find providers in your area on the SBA website.

Small-business loans for women veterans

Business loans offered by banks and credit unions, as well as SBA loans may be a good fit for women veteran entrepreneurs.
The upfront guarantee fee for SBA Express loans (loan amounts up to $500,000) is waived for a veteran or the spouse of a veteran. And the SBA’s Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) program can be used to cover regular business operating costs when you have an essential employee who is called up to active duty as a military reservist.
Women veterans can get a 25% discount on loan administration or origination fees for certain small business loans offered by Bank of America. Navy Federal Credit Union is a credit union that caters specifically to veterans and active military members to provide a variety of business financing options.

Other resources for female entrepreneurs

Government and nonprofit organizations offer free assistance to women entrepreneurs. These programs may provide women with help completing steps to getting a small-business loan, like writing a business plan, and guidance on topics like starting a business, financial management and marketing.

Office of Women’s Business Ownership

The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership offers a number of advocacy, outreach and education programs to assist women entrepreneurs. This includes business training and counseling (in multiple languages and dialects) as well as access to capital and federal procurement (contracting) opportunities.

DreamBuilder

Created by the Freeport-McMoran Foundation, DreamBuilder is an online education program for female business owners. The program offers two course options — one course is designed to help entrepreneurs start their business, while the other focuses on how to finance your operations. It’s free to enroll in the DreamBuilder courses, and they’re available in both English and Spanish.

Women’s Business Centers

The Women’s Business Centers are a network of more than 160 educational centers located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico that help women start and grow their businesses. These SBA-funded centers typically offer seminars and workshops on a range of topics, including how to start a business and raise capital.

Women-Owned Small Businesses Federal Contracting Program

The SBA-run Women-Owned Small Businesses Federal Contracting Program is for women-owned businesses that are interested in government contracts. It tries to level the playing field for women business owners by limiting the competition they face for certain contracts. There are also some contracts that are reserved for disadvantaged women-owned small businesses.

SBA 8(a) certification

Women can also apply for a certification from the SBA 8(a) Business Development program, which allows all “socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities” (including women) to compete for set-aside federal contracts. Certification doesn’t guarantee awards, but it helps women and others compete for contracts set aside for small business and also provides a number of benefits including free training and business development assistance.

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

The nonprofit organization Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) offers programs, events and networking opportunities for women-owned businesses. Its WBENC Certification program is a national certification program for women-owned businesses that can potentially open the door to corporate and government contracts for many women.

National Association of Women Business Owners

The National Association of Women Business Owners, based in Washington, D.C., has 5,000 members and nearly 60 chapters across the country. It offers training and information on topics such as access to capital, government contracting and business certification.

How to get certified as a women-owned business

Getting certified as a women-owned business can help your business grow by boosting your reputation and helping you find and be recognized for various programs and lending opportunities. Since there is no universal certification, how you get certified will depend on your type of business and where you are located. Follow these steps to start your certification process.

1. Make sure you qualify

Even though different agencies might have different qualifications, some common requirements are as follows:
  • Your business is at least 51% owned by a woman who is a U.S. citizen.
  • Your business meets the SBA’s small business size standards.
  • In addition to ownership, your daily business operations are managed by a woman.
  • Your business is a for-profit business.
Different agencies may verify this information using different methods, like sworn affidavits or site visits to your business.

2. Find a certification agency

You can become certified through the federal government or a private agency, depending on your type of business.

3. Organize your documents

Although it varies, most agencies have similar requirements, so it’s prudent to be organized going into the process. These documents may include:
  • Business certification and registration paperwork.
  • Proof of good standing with your secretary of state.
  • Business licenses.
  • Owner resumes.
  • Brief history of business.
  • Proof of citizenship of owners.
  • Business financial documents.

Alternative funding options for women-owned businesses

If you aren’t able to qualify for a business loan, here are some additional options that may allow you to secure funding for you business:
  • Grants for women-owned businesses. Women-owned businesses can get free funding through small-business grants from private companies and nonprofit organizations. Here are places to look for small-business grants for women. Grants can be highly competitive, but if you do receive funding, that money may help you start or expand your business.
  • Business credit cards. Business credit cards also offer financing for women-owned small businesses that are starting out or need working capital. Qualification can be easier than for a business loan because approval generally relies more heavily on personal credit history instead of business credit score and revenue.
  • Equity financing for women-owned businesses. Equity financing can include angel investors, venture capitalists and crowdfunding. Although women-owned businesses can face the same obstacles with equity financing as they may with other types of funding, there are programs and companies that target female entrepreneurs, including startup businesses. IFundWomen and 37 Angels, for example, are companies that offer crowdfunding platforms as well as resources for women entrepreneurs to learn and connect with one another.
  • Bootstrapping. If you’re having trouble qualifying for funding, you may want to consider bootstrapping where you rely on your own personal resources to start or expand your business. Unlike equity financing, you’ll be able to retain full control of your business. However, you may be putting personal assets at risk, as is the case when you pull money out of a retirement account to use for your business.
Last updated on May 21, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates small-business loan products from traditional banks and online lenders. We collect over 30 data points on each lender using company websites and public documents. We may also go through a lender’s initial application flow and reach out to company representatives. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.
Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer small-business friendly features, including: - Transparency of rates and terms. - Flexible payment options. - Fast funding times. - Accessible customer service. - Reporting of payments to business credit bureaus. - Responsible lending practices.
We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to small-business owners and how meaningfully they impact borrowers’ experiences.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodology for small-business loans and our editorial guidelines.

Wondering if you qualify?

It’s possible to get a business loan even if you have bad credit. Bad-credit business loans are available from alternative sources, like online or nonprofit lenders.

Learn more

Frequently Asked Questions

Close
Looking for business funding?

Complete a short questionnaire to be matched with personalized options.

Close
Looking for business funding?

Complete a short questionnaire to be matched with personalized options.