Women owned businesses are on the rise.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 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 owned businesses, the amount of business grants for women, of loans, 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 owned businesses, with women typically winning smaller loan amounts in general. This can be an incredible roadblock to creating and maintaining a small business.
Small Business Grants for Women and Other Financing
Funding a small business can be challenging. Here are several small business grants for women and other resources 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.
- 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 Owned Businesses
Women-owned businesses have a unique set of challenges. Because of this, a number of organizations exist to connect women entrepreneurs with training and other resources.
- Each state has an Association of “Women’s Business Centers” which offer specialized business training and counseling for women entrepreneurs.
- “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
Other Resources for Women Entrepreneurs
Along with grants and mentorship, there are several other places you can find support for your small business.
- 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 are still unique challenges women entrepreneurs face, help is available. Take advantage of the above resources and follow your passion for business ownership.
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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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