A list of small business resources to help women in business navigate available opportunities. Some of these resources are exclusive to women-owned businesses.

Women in business have expanded from supporting roles to ownership roles. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the trend is on the upswing. In 2002, women-owned 28.2% or 6.5 million businesses. That grew in 2007 to 28.8% or 7.8 million, and grew again in 2012 to 35.8% or 9.9 million. There seems to be no sign of the trend slowing down; women-owned businesses are on the rise. But despite more women entrepreneurs, the amount of loans, grants, and general business assistance they receive trails far behind their male-owned counterparts. The U.S. government has an annual target of awarding 5% of all grants to women-owned businesses, but has never reached that goal. This means that over 95% of all government grants go to male-owned businesses. Only 4% of the total dollar value of all small business loans go to women entrepreneurs, with women typically winning smaller loan amounts in general. This can be an incredible roadblock to creating and maintaining a small business.

Funding a Woman-Owned Business

Funding a small business can be challenging. Here are several business resources, some exclusively available for women entrepreneurs to help with that first step of financing.

  • For the last 25 years, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has offered microloans of less than $50,000. They boast that 48% of the loans they award are to women-owned businesses.
  • Economic Development Administration offices are located in every state and focus on promoting strong local economies and providing financing to local entrepreneurs.
  • 37 Angels is a community of women angel investors with a mission to educate early stage investors. Angel investors are investors that invest in companies directly.
  • National Association for the Self-Employed offers growth grants up to $4,000 per month to small businesses for a variety of business needs.
  • Women’s Venture Fund (WVF) is a nonprofit organization that helps women establish thriving businesses in urban communities with funding and business development programs.
  • Eileen Fisher Clothing Company offers a grant of $100,000 to businesses within a certain business size criteria that focus on environmental issues or social change.
  • The Amber Grant Foundation awards $500 to a different woman-owned business every month, with one of them getting a bonus of $2,500 at the end of the year. The foundation’s advisory board chooses the winners, looking for women with passion and a good story. The application is relatively simple: Explain your business, describe what you would do with the grant money and pay a $7 application fee.

Training, Advocacy, and Mentoring for Women in Business

Women-owned businesses have a unique set of challenges. As such, a number of organizations are there to connect women entrepreneurs with training and resources. Here is a selection of those organizations.

  • Each state has an Association of “Women’s Business Centers” which offer specialized business training and counseling to women business owners.
  • “SCORE” enables you to get free and confidential business advice from mentors, both online and in person.
  • The National Association for Female Executives” offers access to powerful research on women entrepreneurship.
  • Women Impacting Public Policy” provides information about public policy that affects women in business, a nonpartisan public policy organization that advocates for and on the behalf of women and minorities in business.
  • The National Women’s Business Council” is a federal advisory council and provides data on women’s entrepreneurship.
  • Women’s Leadership Exchange (WLE)” is a social organization for women entrepreneurs. It was founded by businesswomen, and it works to help women in business “fill in the information gap”. The organization provides resources including conferences, business coaching, interactive programming, teleconferences and a leadership development program.
  • Women Who Startup” is a rapid learning and real-time engagement portal with a global community of women entrepreneurs and innovators

Misc. Business Resources

Here are some general information and business resources that can help all small businesses.

  • Go after other U.S. government contracts and opportunities. The SBA provides a wealth of information to help you navigate government contracting, including how to get started, rules and regulations, finding government customers, and resources for small businesses.
  • The SBA also provides a small business guidebook and collection of articles to help small businesses on a variety of topics.
  • The IRS Small Business Center is the main hub for everything tax related.
  • LegalCORPS connects volunteer lawyers with small businesses and nonprofits.

Running a business requires a team of people and lots of perseverance. While there is still an uphill climb for women entrepreneurs, help is available. Women in business should seek out assistance wherever possible. Take advantage of the above resources and follow your passion for business ownership.

Santander Bank does not make any claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article.

Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial or tax strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Santander Bank.

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