Business Financing Tips for Women Entrepreneurs
Being a woman in business has its rewards and challenges. Accessing capital has been one of the challenges for female entrepreneurs. Although the Women’s Business Ownership Act passed in 1988 removed the requirement for a female entrepreneur to have a male cosigner when taking out a business loan, women-owned businesses are less likely to apply for new credit when they need it for fear of being denied, according to a report by the National Women’s Business Council.
To help women in business finance their companies, here are some helpful resources from Needham Bank, as well as funding options available to female entrepreneurs in Massachusetts.
Free training for women entrepreneurs in Massachusetts
The Small Business Administration offers several programs for women in business through its Office of Women’s Business Ownership to teach women entrepreneurs how to get federal contracts and access to capital or credit. It also offers general business counseling and training through local SBA district offices. Find your local SBA District Office in Massachusetts to take advantage of this free training and consulting.
The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership oversees the Women’s Business Centers to help female entrepreneurs start and grow their business. This is a free service that provides a range of training opportunities designed to help level the playing field for women in business. Find your local Women’s Business Center or similar resource in Massachusetts:
- Center for Women’s Enterprise in Eastern MA
- Center for Women’s Enterprise in Central MA
- Western Massachusetts SCORE
Grants for women business owners in Massachusetts
A grant can be powerful because it’s money that you don’t have to pay back. Many organizations offer grants for entrepreneurs, some of which are specific to women-owned businesses. Before applying for a grant, read over the criteria to make sure you qualify. Here are some programs to look into:
- Amber Grant for Women: At least one $2,000 grant is awarded monthly and one $25,000 grant is awarded each year.
- Grants.gov: The federal government offers countless grants, many of which are geared toward small businesses and entrepreneurs.
- Cartier Women’s Initiative: Female entrepreneurs around the country could win $30,000 to $100,000 to catapult their businesses forward.
- Women Founders Network: Early-stage startups led by women can compete for a total of $50,000 in cash prizes and $100,000 worth of professional services.
- Idea Cafe Small Business Grants: Idea Cafe awards one growing business a $1,000 grant each year, many of which have gone to female entrepreneurs.
SBA loans for women in Massachusetts
Because there are still barriers for access to capital for women, the Small Business Administration has prioritized helping women business owners get funding. Interestingly, women-owned businesses account for 30% of small businesses in the U.S. but only take in 16% of conventional small business loans each year. However, of all SBA loans granted, loans for women made up 18%. An SBA loan is a guaranteed loan that helps make financing more accessible and affordable for business owners.
Some of the best business loan options for women are available through the SBA’s 7(a) and 504 loan programs. The SBA 7a program is typically used to increase working capital, finance inventory or equipment or to purchase real estate. The SBA 504 loan program is used for fixed assets and real estate. While these loan programs aren’t only for women-owned businesses, they typically are helpful to women.