There are no Small Business Association loan programs solely for women and no federal government set-asides for women in regular loan programs. Programs like 7A, 504 and micro-loans provide guarantees for commercial loans to qualified small businesses regardless race or gender. (The SBA does track the number that go to women and minorities.) Through partners like SCORE and others, they support minorities, including women, with technical assistance in preparing loan applications.
Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is, according to their website, “the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources and business education for women entrepreneurs.” They have two programs. The first is “Make Mine a Million” for women with businesses over two years old and with revenues over $250,000. It offers a combination of “money, mentoring, marketing and technology tools.” The second is “Micro to Millions,” for businesses below those benchmarks, which offers awards of “financing up to $5,000, PR opportunities and business coaching” to support women.
SCORE counselors are nearby to help women, and some counselors are women as well. While not lenders or microloan providers, counselors support women every day by recommending financing alternatives and reading business plan drafts.
Women’s Business Development Centers (WBDCs), like SCORE chapters, are resource partners of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Some WBDCs will help women prepare a loan package. For example, the WBDC in Chicago does loan packaging from $1,000 to $1.2 million dollars.
To improve your odds of getting a loan, check out some of SCORE’s general guides on loans and financing:
Does being a women offer special hurdles in getting financing? Please share your thoughts and experiences in a comment.