There are no small business loans designed specifically for women entrepreneurs, but online lenders and other organizations offer financing, assistance and support for women-owned businesses.
Your business is less than a year old
It can be hard to qualify for a business loan if you haven’t been operating for at least 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 debt.
But don’t fret if you’re just starting out; there are still financing options for startups, including microloans and crowdfunding.
If you have good personal credit, you may qualify for a personal loan for business. Most personal loans are unsecured, and some loan amounts go as high as $100,000.
You have average or bad personal credit
If you have a low credit score (300 – 689), consider online lenders Kabbage, QuarterSpot or OnDeck. Borrowing costs may be high, but these lenders are good sources of speedy funds for emergency or short-term needs.
OnDeck provides term loans up to $500,000, with a minimum credit score of 500 required. However, you’ll also need a minimum of $100,000 in revenue and at least one year in business to qualify.
- Loan amount: $2,000 to $250,000.
- APR: 24% to 99%.
- Loan term: 6, 12 or 18 months.
- Funding time: A few minutes to several days.
- Read our Kabbage review.
- Loan amount: $5,000 to $250,000.
- APR: 30% to 70%.
- Loan term: 6, 9, 12, 15, or 18 months.
- Approval time: As fast as 24 hours.
- Read our QuarterSpot 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.
*APRs change quarterly
Your business is 1 to 2 years old
StreetShares offers term loans to borrowers with personal credit scores of 600 or higher and annual revenue starting at $75,000. The company caps funding at 20% of your revenue, up to $250,000.
If you need more than $250,000, try Credibility Capital, which provides loans up to $400,000. It’s an option for borrowers who have good personal credit (680-plus), but fall short of traditional banks’ financing qualifications.
- Loan amount: $2,000 to $250,000.
- APR: 8% to 39.99%.
- Loan term: 3 to 36 months.
- Funding time: 0 to 5 days.
- Read our StreetShares review.
- Loan amount: $50,000 to $400,000.
- APR: 10% to 25%.
- Loan term: 1, 2 or 3 years.
- Funding time: 7 days on average.
- Read our Credibility Capital review.
Your business is older than 2 years
If you have solid finances and an established business, consider an SBA loan. Women who own more than half of a small business received 14%, or $761 million, of the SBA 7(a) loans approved in 2018, according to the SBA.
SmartBiz offers a quicker alternative to banks for SBA 7(a) loans. Low APRs of 9.7% to 11.04% and a 10-year loan term make SmartBiz an attractive option when you want to invest in growing your company.
SBA 7(a) Loan
- Loan amount: $30,000 to $350,000.
- APR: 9.7% to 11.04%.
- Loan term: 10 years.
- Funding time: As quickly as seven days but typically several weeks.
- Read our SmartBiz 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 raise capital.
National Association of Women Business Owners
The National Association of Women Business Owners, based in Washington, D.C., has 5,000 members and 60 chapters across the country. It offers training and information on topics such as 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. Resources include help for startups, alternative lender programs, conferences and mentor groups.
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, grants and other funding sources.
Evaluate small business loans carefully
When shopping for loans, compare APRs, which give the true cost of borrowing, including all fees. NerdWallet’s small business loans comparison tool can help: