Small-Business Loans for Women: 7 Options

Small Business, Small Business Loans

The quest for small-business loans for women is a bit easier these days. If you’re a female entrepreneur, your financing choices are no longer limited to bank loans, U.S. Small Business Administration loans or small-business grants.

You can explore a host of online small-business lenders that have emerged since the 2008 financial crisis. Online lenders have less stringent requirements, but you still need some business track record. And you’ll pay higher borrowing costs compared with traditional banks.

Here’s a breakdown of our recommendations, which we’ve arranged based on how long you’ve been in business, your personal credit score and the state of your company.

 

 

Other resources for women entrepreneurs

Summary of options: Small-business loans for women


If you have less than a year in business

It can be hard to qualify for a business loan if you haven’t been operating for a full year. Most lenders want to see a track record of strong finances, a solid direction for the business and an ability to repay the debt.

But don’t fret if you’re just starting out; there are still financing options for startups.


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If your personal credit score is under 600

With poor or average credit, consider Kabbage or OnDeck. Borrowing costs may be high, but both are good sources of speedy funds.

These are good options for emergencies or short-term needs. Once you improve your finances, consider transitioning to lower-cost financing.

For quick working capital: Kabbage offers a line of credit with a higher annual percentage rate range than an OnDeck loan, at 24% to 99%.

For expansion capital: OnDeck provides term loans of up to $500,000 with APRs that range from 9% to 99%.

Kabbage_Logo_150x40
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $150,000
  • APR: 24% to 99%
  • Loan term: 6 or 12 months
  • Funding time: A few minutes to several days
  • Read our Kabbage review
Apply now at Kabbage
OnDeck_logo_2017
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $500,000
  • APR: 9% to 99%
  • Loan term: Repaid daily or weekly for 3 to 36 months
  • Funding time: As fast as 24 hours but typically a few days
  • Read our OnDeck review
Apply now at OnDeck


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If your company is at least 1 year old

If your business has a bit of a track record and you’ve got good credit, consider StreetShares or Credibility Capital.

For working capital: If you have a personal credit score of 600 or higher and annual revenue starting at $25,000, StreetShares is a good choice for term loans, with APRs starting at 9%.

Funding, though, is capped at 20% of your revenue, up to $100,000.

For service-based businesses: Credibility Capital is popular with restaurants and financial services firms.

With APRs between 10% and 25%, it can be an attractive option for borrowers who have good personal credit (650-plus) but fall just short of traditional banks’ financing qualifications.

StreetShares-e1459274893272
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $100,000
  • APR: 9% to 40%
  • Loan term: 3 to 36 months
  • Funding time: 1 to 5 days
  • Read our StreetShares review
Apply now at StreetShares
credibilitycapitallogo
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $350,000
  • APR: 10% to 25%
  • Loan term: 1, 2 or 3 years
  • Funding time: 7 days on average
  • Read our Credibility Capital review
Apply now at Credibility Capital


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If you have an established business

If you have solid finances and an established business, you have several options that provide low rates and faster funding than traditional banks.

For faster SBA loans: SmartBiz is a good option if you’re looking for a quicker alternative to banks offering low-rate Small Business Administration loans.

An APR of 8.5% to 9.21% and the 10-year loan term also make SmartBiz an attractive option when you want to make major investments to grow your company.

smartbiz
  • Loan amount: $30,000 to $350,000
  • APR: 8.5% to 9.21%
  • Loan term: 10 years
  • Funding time: As quickly as 7 days but typically several weeks
  • Read our SmartBiz review
Apply now at SmartBiz

For SBA loan alternatives: If you don’t qualify for an SBA loan or need faster access to capital, Lending Club and Bond Street are good choices to consider.

Lending Club has a term loan and a line of credit, with APRs starting at 8%, if you need financing of up to $300,000.

LendingClub-box

Term loan

  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
  • APR: 8% to 35%
  • Loan term: 1 to 5 years
  • Funding time: As fast as two days but typically a week or two
  • Read our Lending Club review
Apply now at Lending Club
LendingClub-box

Line of credit

  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
  • APR: 8% to 35%
  • Loan term: Repaid up to 25 months
  • Funding time: Less than a week
  • Read our Lending Club review
Apply now at Lending Club

If you need more money, Bond Street offers term loans up to $1 million. However, its requirements are a bit stricter than Lending Club’s.

horizontal-black
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $1 million
  • APR: 8% to 25%
  • Loan term: 1 to 3 years
  • Approval time: Average of 3 to 4 days
  • Read our Bond Street review
Apply now at Bond Street


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Other resources for women entrepreneurs

Many organizations offer services and assistance to women entrepreneurs, including pro bono programs run by nonprofits and SBA-affiliated groups. These include programs that teach women how to start a business and train them in financial management and marketing.

Grants

Women-owned businesses can get help in the early stages through grants provided by government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Here are 10 places to look for small-business grants for women.

SBA Women’s Business Centers

The Women’s Business Centers are a network of nearly 100 educational centers around the United States that help women start and grow their businesses. These centers typically offer seminars and workshops on a range of topics, including how to start a business and tips on raising capital.

National Association of Women Business Owners

This national organization is based in Washington, D.C. The association, which has 5,000 members and 60 chapters across the country, offers training and information on different topics, including access to capital, government contracting and business certification.

National Women’s Business Council

The National Women’s Business Council works with the Office of the President, Congress and the SBA on issues related to women business owners. It also publishes research and other materials focused on women-owned enterprises.

WomanOwned

This network of more than 3.5 million women-owned businesses worldwide offers online business information and networking assistance. WomanOwned maintains a database where women can get information on loans, scholarships and other funding sources.

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Summary of options: Business loans for women

Funding optionsGood option for:Do you qualify?Loan amount and APR
ondeck

Apply now at OnDeck
  • Bad to good personal credit
  • Fast cash
  • Expansion
  • 500+ personal credit score
  • 1+ year in business
  • $100,000+ annual revenue
  • $5,000 to $500,000
  • 9% to 99%
Kabbage_Logo_150x40

Apply now at Kabbage
  • Bad personal credit
  • Fast cash
  • Working capital
  • No minimum personal credit score
  • 1+ year in business
  • $50,000+ annual revenue
  • $2,000 to $150,000
  • 24% to 99%
Street Shares

Apply now at StreetShares
  • Good personal credit
  • Businesses still growing revenue.
  • 600+ personal credit score
  • 1+ year in business (at least six months if you have $100,000 annual revenue)
  • $25,000+ annual revenue
  • $2,000 to $100,000
  • 9% to 40%
credibilitycapitallogo

Apply now at Credibility Capital
  • Good personal credit
  • Short-term financing
  • 650+ personal credit score
  • 1+ year in business
  • $100,000+ annual revenue
  • $10,000 to $350,000
  • 10% to 25%
smartbiz

Apply now at SmartBiz
  • Good personal credit
  • SBA loans
  • Low rates
  • 600+ personal credit score for loans $30,000-$150,000
  • 650+ credit score for loans more than $150,000
  • 2+ years in business
  • $50,000+ annual revenue
  • $30,000 to $350,000
  • 8.5% to 9.21%
lending_club_logo_new-249x47

Term loan


Apply now at Lending Club
  • Good personal credit
  • Established businesses
  • 600+ personal credit score
  • 2+ years in business
  • $75,000+ annual revenue
  • $5,000 to $300,000
  • 8% to 35%
lending_club_logo_new-249x47

Line of credit


Apply now at Lending Club

  • Good personal credit
  • Established businesses
  • 600+ personal credit score
  • 2+ years in business
  • $75,000+ annual revenue
  • $5,000 to $300,000
  • 8% to 35%

Apply now at Bond Street
  • Good personal credit
  • Businesses with strong cash flow
  • Financing large projects
  • 640+ personal credit score
  • 2+ years in business
  • $200,000+ in annual revenue
  • $10,000 to $1 million
  • 8% to 25%

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Evaluate small-business loans carefully

If you’re a woman entrepreneur, you won’t run out of financing options for your small business. There are plenty of choices, depending on your financial situation and needs. When shopping for loans, be sure to compare APRs, the true cost of borrowing including all fees. NerdWallet’s small-business loans comparison tool can help:

Andrew L. Wang is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: awang@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @andrew_L_wang.

Updated July 20, 2017.