SBA Loans and Grants for Women Business Owners
The Small Business Administration, commonly referred to as the SBA, is considered a key resource for small business owners. One of their main areas of focus is helping women business owners achieve their goals. Their impressive partnerships and initiatives, such as the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, have created opportunities for women-owned startups and existing business looking to expand.
The SBA offers a variety of diverse programs specifically designed to help women-owned small businesses. These include:
- Women’s Business Centers: The SBA has over 100 Women’s Business Centers throughout the U.S. Among these center’s initiatives is their commitment to connecting women-owned businesses with capital. To find a center near you so that you can determine potential opportunities, click here.
- InnovateHER Challenge: Each year, the SBA provides financing to businesses that benefit women. In fact, in 2017, the winner was awarded $40,000! To enter, you’ll first need to win a local InnovateHER Challenge. Once you do this, you’ll advance to the national level.
- Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program: This program helps woman-owned businesses win Federal contracts. To qualify, your business must be at least 51 percent owned by one or more women. You’ll also need to go through a self-certification process. To learn more about what it takes to qualify for this program, visit the SBA website.
- Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs: Does your business involve federal research and development? If so, you could be legible for Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs.
- 8(a) Development program: The SBA 8(a) Business Development Program enables “small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace.” As a woman entrepreneur, you could qualify, so consider applying for this program.
- SBA Loans: In addition to grants and specific programs for women business owners, the SBA offers a variety of loan options that help entrepreneurs with various needs. To learn about the SBA’s different loan programs, check out our overview here.
To qualify for women business financing, you’ll need a favorable credit score and a well-written business plan that outlines income and expense projections, in addition to historical trends. As part of the underwriting process for SBA loans, you’ll also need to explain how you’ll utilize the financing, and possibly create a 5-year revenue and expense projection estimation. For example, will the money be used for operational costs, such as marketing or payroll, or do you need financing for collateral such as equipment or real estate? However, you plan to utilize the loan could affect your ability to qualify. In general, asset-based requests are more secure since the equipment or real estate you plan to purchase can be pledged as collateral.
How to Apply
Applying for a business loan or grant through the SBA can be a challenging endeavor, no matter who you are. If you’re a woman starting a new business or are in the process of growing an existing company, start your application process by locating a lender in your geographic area that works with the SBA.
Supporting Women Business Owners
Overall, the SBA gives women business owners many options for business loans and grants. However, they aren’t the only resource available. Many alternative lenders provide financing for woman-owned businesses as well. Whether you choose to grow your business with an SBA loan or grant, or with an alternative lender, be sure to ask about special initiatives for women-owned businesses.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.