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.
For a personalized recommendation based on your business finances and needs, take our quiz.
For more information:
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.
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%.
- 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
- 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
If your company is a year or older
If your business has a bit of a track record and you’ve got good credit, consider StreetShares or Credibility Capital.
For working capital up to $100,000: 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 working capital up to $350,000: If you need more than $100,000, Credibility Capital offers a higher loan maximum.
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
For SBA loan alternatives: If you don’t qualify for an SBA loan or need faster access to capital, Lending Club is a good choice to consider.
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
- APR: 9.8% to 35.7%
- Loan term: 1 to 5 years
- Funding time: As fast as two days but typically a week or two
- Read our Lending Club review
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.
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.
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.
Business loans for women: Compare your options
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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:
Updated Nov. 15, 2017.