Are there SBA Loans for Women Entrepreneurs?
According to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), there are over 11.6 million women entrepreneurs across the U.S., generating approximately $1.7 trillion in sales each year. And, just like other hardworking entrepreneurs, women need capital in order to start, maintain, and grow their businesses. However, it can be more difficult for women to get business loans than their male counterparts; in fact, a 2014 study showed that female small businesses borrowers got approved for much smaller loan amounts than men, even when their companies had similar financials and about the same time in business.
Fortunately, the SBA has stepped in with several programs that can help women take their businesses to the next level. If you’re a woman business owner looking for SBA funding, this is what you need to know:
The SBA is Funding Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) in Order to Help Increase Opportunities for Women
Women’s Business Centers, otherwise known as WBCs, are intended to “level the playing field” for female business owners. These centers, which are partially funded by the SBA, provide training, counseling, and educational resources to women at all stages of their business journey. Right now, the SBA is assisting more than 100 Women’s Business Centers througout the U.S., which help over 100,000 women entrepreneurs every year.
If you’re a woman who wants business mentorship and counseling, but you’re not located nearby a WBC, you may want to look into the SBA’s SCORE program, a network of volunteer business mentors located throughout the U.S. Or, you may want to see if the SBA has a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located near you. SBDCs, which are typically located near colleges or universities, can help women entrepreneurs develop business plans, and can also give them financial, marketing, and manufacturing advice for their businesses. SBDCs can also help women business owners apply for the SBA 8(a) business development program.
What Are The Best SBA 7(a) Loan Options for Women?
While there are no SBA loans specifically intended for women entrepreneurs, many of the SBA’s loan products can be a great option for women business owners looking to start or grow their company. The SBA 7(a) loan may be the best for women business owners who currently have a business with strong financials, or a startup with a strong business plan and a good amount of funding in place.
However, for those business owners who may not have the best credit, or those who are bootstrapping their startup, an SBA microloan could be a better option. Microloans have less stringent credit score requirements (some lenders will approve borrowers with credit as low as 575), though they only offer loan amounts of up to $50,000.
SBA Community Advantage Loans Can Be Especially Helpful for Women Entrepreneurs
While SBA 7(a) loans and SBA microloans are great options for women entrepreneurs, SBA Community Advantage loans could be an even better choice. Community Advantage loans are provided to borrowers via local lenders, mainly nonprofits, with the stated mission of helping underserved populations get the small business funding they need. These loans are available in amounts between $50,000 and $250,000, typically have terms of between 7 and 10 years, and can be used for a variety of purposes, including working capital, equipment, and owner-occupied commercial real estate.
SBA 504 Loans Are An Effective Option for Larger Women-Owned Businesses
According to National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), “One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.” And, with so many women-owned firms reaching seven-figure revenues, it only makes sense that some of them might need to expand into new locations— and often, that means buying commercial real estate. If this describes your business’s needs, than the SBA 504 loan could be a great option. SBA 504 loans are specifically designed for commercial real estate transactions, not working capital or equipment financing, have lower interest rates than 7(a) loans, and, have a slightly larger maximum loan amount, at $5.5 million.