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Loans, Grants, and Other Funding, Oh My! Women Owned Business Grants and Other Funding Options for Women Business Owners

Published By Faith Stewart at March 10th, 2020

There are a ton of options available to women for business funding.  Some are female specific, like women owned business grants. Others are not regulated to women specifically, though they may work better for women than some other options.  The key is to quilt together the options that work best for you and your needs. 

Top Options for Female Business Owners, Including Women Owned Business Grants

You can look around for women owned business grants and other funding options specific to women.  They do exist, but there are not that many of them. The best bet is to combine those that you can find along with options that work well for women in business, though not specifically designed for women exclusively. 

27 killer ways cta - Loans, Grants, and Other Funding, Oh My! Women Owned Business Grants and Other Funding Options for Women Business Owners 

Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business

Business Loans for Women

Hands down, business loans are the most easily accessible and sure-fire option for funding a business.  This is true whether you are a woman, a minority, a veteran, have a disability, or even if you do not fit into any of these categories.  It may be hard to believe, because loans cost money, right? Free money is better, and if those options are out there, they have to be better, right?  

While these free money opportunities are great, they are few and far between.  Not only that, but they are typically highly competitive. Definitely pursue them, but realistically you need to understand that loans are pretty necessary when it comes to running a business.  Especially in the early phases. In general, the best place to start for virtually all small business owners, whether a female or not, is The Small Business Administration. 

Small Business Loans from The Small Business Administration

While many start out looking for women owned business grants, you can just know that you will probably need loans at some point as well.  Though not specifically for women alone, the SBA offers government backed loan programs.  Many of these are perfect for women business owners, even though they are not for women exclusively.

7(a) Loans

This program offers federally funded term loans up to $5 million. The funds can be used for expansion, purchasing equipment, working capital and more. Banks, credit unions, and other specialized institutions in partnership with the SBA process these loans and disburse the funds. 

To qualify, a business owner has to have a credit score of at least 680.  There is also a required down payment of at least 10% for the purchase of a business, commercial real estate, or equipment. The minimum time in business is 2 years. If a business is a startup, business experience equal to two years is enough. 

This is by far the most popular of the SBA loan programs.  Funds are available for a broad range of projects, from working capital to refinancing debt, and even buying a new business or real estate. 

504 Loans 

These loans are also available up to $5 million.  They can buy machinery, facilities, or land. Generally, they are used for expansion.  Private sector lenders or nonprofits process and disburse the funds, and they work especially well for commercial real estate purchases. 

Terms for 504 loans range from 10 to 20 years.  Funding can take from 30 to 90 days. The minimum credit score requirement is 680, and collateral is the asset being financed. There is also a down payment requirement of 10%.  However, this can increase to 15% for a new business. 

Furthermore, there is a requirement that you be in business for at least 2 years, or that management has equivalent experience if the business is a startup

Microloans 

Microloans are available in amounts up to $50,000. They work for starting a business, purchasing equipment, buying inventory, or for working capital. Community based nonprofits handle microloan programs as intermediaries.  Unlike other SBA programs, financing comes directly from the Small Business Administration. 

Interest rates on these loans are 7.75% to 8% above the lender’s cost to fund, and the terms go up to 6 years. They can take up to 90 days to fund. There is a 640 minimum credit score requirement.  However, the collateral and down payment requirements vary by lender. 

27 killer ways cta - Loans, Grants, and Other Funding, Oh My! Women Owned Business Grants and Other Funding Options for Women Business Owners

 Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business

SBA Express loans 

Express loans top out at $350,000 and have a maximum interest rate of 11.50%. Terms range from 5 to 25 years, and the SBA guarantee is less than with their other loan programs at 50%. To qualify, your credit score must be above 680.  In addition, you must have a debt to service ratio of 1.1 or higher. If the loan is greater than $25,000, collateral may be necessary depending on the lender. 

The turnaround for express loans is faster, too.  The SBA takes up to 36 hours to give a decision. Necessary paperwork for application is also less, making express loans a great option for working capital, among other things, if you qualify. 

SBA CAPLine 

There are 4 distinct CAPLine programs that differ mostly in the expenses they can fund. Each of them carries a maximum amount of $5 million and an interest rate that ranges from 7% to 10%. Funding can take 45 to 90 days. 

The four different programs are: 

  • Seasonal CAPLines -Financing for businesses preparing for a seasonal increase in sales.
  • Contract CAPLines -Financing for businesses that need funding to fill a contract.
  • Builder’s CAPLines -Financing for businesses taking on a real estate or construction project.
  • Working capital CAPLines -Financing for businesses that are struggling with a short-term slump in sales.

You must have a credit score of 680 or above to qualify for these. There is no minimum time in business requirement unless you are getting a seasonal CAPline. That one carries a one year in business requirement. 

SBA Community Advantage Loans 

This pilot program is set to expire or extend in 2020. It’s meant to promote economic growth in underserved areas and markets.  Lenders can be less strict when it comes to poor credit or low revenue if the business has the potential to stimulate the economy or create jobs in underserved areas. 

Loan amounts range from $50,000 to $250,000 with a maximum interest rate of 11%.  Terms range up to 25 years.

CrowdFunding

If you want to reduce the amount of loans you need to start and run your business, crowdfunding is a viable option.  Crowdfunding gives today’s business owners a new way to build a successful business. Don’t be fooled. Not everyone with a campaign on a crowdfunding site is successful.  Funding a business with crowdfunding doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it often doesn’t happen at all. To succeed at crowdfunding, you have to research what works, what doesn’t, and then cross your fingers because truthfully it may work, and it may not.

Find which crowdfunding platform is best to use for your business. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the most popular crowdfunding platforms to use. Some work better for specific types of businesses than others.  Also, some may have higher success rates for women than others. Do your research.

Women Owned Business Grants

All grant programs are highly competitive.  However, they are still worth the effort to apply.  There really isn’t anything to lose except time.  It’s free money. Women owned business grants are rarely enough to fully fund a business, but they can supplement other funding types. Here are some examples of women owned business grants. 

SBA Women’s Business Centers

In addition to helping with loans, the SBA Women’s Business Centers also help women entrepreneurs get access to other types of funding. Some lend money or award grants directly, while others help connect women entrepreneurs with financial institutions.  Take a look at their website to find out more on how to apply for women owned business grants through this network.

Eileen Fisher Women Owned Business Grants

The clothing brand Eileen Fisher hands out $100,000 per year to 10 women-owned businesses. To qualify, a woman must have at least 51% ownership, and the business must be in operation for at least three years. Also, it must bring in less than $1 million per year in revenue and have a focus on environmental or social change.  

Amber Grant 

The Amber Grant awards $500 to $1,000 per month to a woman-owned business. One of the recipients also receives an additional $10,000 grant at the end of the year. Applicants only need to tell their story and turn it in with a $15 application fee.   

#GIRLBOSS Foundation Grant 

Specifically for woman-owned businesses in fashion, music, and art, the #GIRLBOSS small business grant awards $15,000.  They also offer exposure via the Girlboss website and social media platforms. Judges rate those applying on creativity, business savvy, planning, innovation in the field, need, and where they plan to work. 

27 killer ways cta - Loans, Grants, and Other Funding, Oh My! Women Owned Business Grants and Other Funding Options for Women Business Owners

Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business

Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award is $100,000 for first place and $30,000 for second place.  They award the grant to 18 female business owners from around the world each year.  Women business owners who are just getting started may qualify.  Look over the complete application for more information.

All of the finalists get to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Program (ISEP). They will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops on entrepreneurship and business coaching seminars, as well as be exposed to networking opportunities.  

Update 6/24/2020:   2020 Cartier Women’s Initiative Award winners are:

  1. North America: Stephanie Benedetto, New York  Queen of Raw: An online marketplace for businesses to buy/sell deadstock fabrics and textiles, as a sustainable alternative to destroying them.
  2. Latin America + the Caribbean: Adriana Luna Diaz, Mexico  Tierra de Monte: A technology that relies on bacteria and fungi to rejuvenate plant and soil fertility, regulating diseases and pests, in a safe, effective and affordable manner.
  3. East Asia: Chunguang (Charlotte) Wang, China  Equota Energy (Technology) Shanghai Co. Ltd.: A data analytics-driven energy efficiency solution provider. They help clients understand their energy consumption in real time and make recommendations for reductions that create cost and environmental impact savings.
  4. South Asia + Oceania: Joanne Howarth, Australia – Woolpack Australia – Planet Protector Packaging: A manufacturer of environmentally responsible insulated packaging (made of sheep’s wool) for temperature sensitive goods in transit.
  5. Europe: Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen, Denmark  Female Invest: Seeks to educate women on investing, and to employ more women in the financial industry, by organizing financial educational training for women via a membership model.
  6. Sub-Saharan Africa: Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Nigeria  Life Bank: Delivers WHO-compliant essential products, such as blood and oxygen, to hospitals using their own network of motorbikes and boats.
  7. Middle East + North Africa: Nadia Gamal El Din, Egypt – Rahet Bally: The Rahet Bally card offers discounts and access to health experts and hospitals. ‘The Cloud by Rahet Bally’ is a facility that offers all the services a mom needs, including psychiatric counseling services, gyms and babysitting.

These ladies were selected from 1,200 applications from 159 different countries.  Each of the seven laureates will receive a $100,000 investment in their business, while the 14 runners-up each receive a $30,000 investment. All 21 finalists will receive mentoring, networking and business development support.

Other Funding Options Beyond Women Owned Business Grantswomen owned business grants2 - Loans, Grants, and Other Funding, Oh My! Women Owned Business Grants and Other Funding Options for Women Business Owners

While programs like those that provide women owned business grants and those offered by The Small Business Administration often work to meet the special challenges women business owners face, sometimes it just isn’t enough.  If your credit score does not allow you to qualify for SBA loans, there are other  options available as well. They tend to work well, though not specifically designed for women. 

Lending Club

LendingClub functions as a peer-to-peer lender that offers mostly fixed-term small business loans. Borrowers that get loans from LendingClub generally use loan funds to buy equipment, finance growth or expansion projects, consolidate other debt, or hire new employees.

One benefit LendingClub offers with their small business loans that many others do not is access to a client advisor. This is someone to help you figure out how to best use your business loan funds, as well as how to budget loan payments.

The minimum loan amount at LendingClub is $5,000 and the maximum is $300,000.  There is a minimum time in business requirement of 12 months to qualify.  In addition, you must have at least $50,000 in annual sales.  There can be no tax liens or bankruptcies, and you must have at least 20% ownership.  They will work with a credit score that is fair or higher.  A fair credit score ranges from 620 to 659. 

Lendio

Lendio offers a loan-connection service that dramatically cuts the time it takes for small business owners to find the perfect loan.  They do the legwork by vetting a network of competing small business lenders. Funding is fast, sometimes in as little as 24 hours.  

Potential borrowers submit one application and then see offers from lenders in the network.  The minimum loan amount is $500 while the maximum is $5,000,000.  The business must be U.S. or Canada based and must have a business bank account.  There is a minimum personal credit score requirement of 560.  

Blue Vine

BlueVine offers two options for small business financing.  They include lines of credit and invoice factoring.  They also offer the ability to talk with a financial advisor. Their application process takes place exclusively online.  The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and their maximum is $100,000.  Furthermore, to be eligible you must be in business for at least 6 months, have revenue of $120,000 per year or more, and have a credit score of at least 600.  

Kiva

Kiva has a unique lending model. They offer loans to businesses, but their platform is far different from that of traditional or even other non-traditional lenders.  It is sort of a cross between crowdfunding and lending.  They offer loans with a 0% interest rate.  That means, even though you have to pay it back, it is actually free money. In addition, they do not run a credit check. The only requirement is that you have to get at least 5 family members or friends to donate money for your business.  Also, you have to give at least a $25 loan to another business on the platform yourself. 

Grameen

Grameen is one of the few lenders that offers microloans specifically for women.  The loan amounts range from $2,000 to $15,000, and they also offer financial training and support.   

As a bonus, they report payments to Equifax and Experian.  The result is, these loans help borrowers build credit. 

Choose Your Funding Options Wisely for Women Owned Business Grants and More

For many, business funding will be similar to a quilt.  Just as a quilt weaves various colors and types of fabric into a beautify, functional work of art, so can business funding work.  There are various types available, and if you combine the ones that work best for you, they can work together to ensure your business not only stays running, but also growing and thriving. This includes women owned business grants. 

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