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SBA loan and startup funding for women

SBA loan and startup funding for women

Portrait of small business owner

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March is Women’s History Month; a time dedicated to highlighting the contributions that women have made to American society, including in the finance and business sector. In recent years, women-owned small businesses have been on the rise, making up 49 percent of all businesses in 2019.

Despite this growth, a 2020 survey found that women are nearly 18 percent less likely to have their loan applications approved than men. However, women can fund their newest venture by taking advantage of every financing option at their disposal, like Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, crowdfunding opportunities and grants.

According to the latest Census data, women owned 1,222,102 businesses in the country. Of these businesses:

  • White women owned 1,001,816.
  • Hispanic women owned 98,915.
  • Black or African American women owned 50,292.
  • Asian women owned 170,725.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native women owned 12,351.

An SBA Loan is a small business loan that’s guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and helps cover eligible businesses expenses. There are multiple SBA loans available with costs ranging from $50,000 to millions of dollars.

SBA loans are available to both men and women entrepreneurs; however, women tend to seek funding at smaller rates then their male counterparts due to the fear of getting rejected for the funds.

  • In 2021, 2.4 percent of all capital invested went to woman-founded venture-backed startups.
  • The Federal Government aims to dole out 5 percent of all federal contracting SBA funds to women-owned small businesses each year.
  • Since 2020, 13 percent of women of color received less business-related financial assistance from banks and institutions than men.
  • Women of color were denied business-related relief funds 2 to 3 more times than White or male business owners.
  • More than 57 percent of microloans – from lenders that work with the SBA – are currently handled by women.
  • Only 25 percent of women who own businesses seek funding.
  • Nearly a quarter of women-owned small businesses were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In 2019, 5.19 percent of federal SBA funds were awarded to women-owned small businesses, increasing from 4.75 percent in 2018 and 4.71 percent in 2017.
  • In 2021, 48 percent of women entrepreneurs reported cutting into their own pay to keep employees on staff.

Female entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses have been on the rise in the country, outpacing overall business growth (9 percent) from 2014 to 2019 at 21 percent.

While female entrepreneurship is on the rise, the disparities – especially for minority women – within the American workforce are still stark when compared to male and male and female-owned businesses.

  • 21 percent of employer firms were owned by women.
  • 42 percent of nonemployer firms are owned by women.
  • Between January 1, 2020 and December 21, 2021 women entrepreneurs outpaced their male counterparts and grew by 43 percent.
  • Women-owned businesses make up 42 percent of all businesses in the U.S.
  • Globally, women account for roughly one in three of all high-growth entrepreneurs.
  • In 2021, 61 percent of women entrepreneurs surveyed said they expect revenue to increase in the upcoming year and 92 percent considered their financial situation to be strong or fair.

Grants for women

Female entrepreneurs can take advantage of grants that are specifically set aside for women-owned businesses. Unlike loans, grant funding doesn’t have to be repaid and is privately and publicly sourced.

State and federal small business grants are also available, so women should apply for every grant possible to maximize their award potential before turning to SBA or private loans.

Federal, state and organizational grants

The federal government supports a wide range of small business grants backed by the SBA. These grants are typically harder to get approved for due to a wider application range than private grants offered by private foundations or organizations.

As a springboard in your grant search, contact the following organizations – or visit their website – to get a well-rounded scope of your options:

Private business grants for women

Privately-funded grants are often the easiest, most direct way to garner funding specifically geared toward women-owned businesses. There are hundreds of funding opportunities available by companies and foundations that cater to a wide range of business types, including:

For many, getting started is the most difficult part of financing a startup or business venture. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to get your feet off the ground and start your business, including:

  • Crowdfunding: According to the National Women’s Business Council, women are more successful at crowdfunding than men by 4.6 percent.
  • Business loans: Apply for SBA loans specifically; they often come with lower rates, longer repayment terms and business-related resources and counseling.
  • Mentorship and entrepreneurial development programs: Women’s Business Centers offer access to a world of resources and mentorship opportunities and can expose you to financing opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
  • Attend conferences, events and webinars: Networking puts you in touch with industry experts who can offer both their support and advice when it comes to financing your next venture.


  • SBA loans are geared toward for-profit small business owners, are backed by the federal government and are dispersed by SBA-funded third-party lenders. SBA loans come in a variety of types, depending on the needs and size of the business.
  • To check the status of a funded SBA loan, you need to create an account in SBA’s Capital Access Financial System (CAFS) to check the account balance and payment dates. To check on the status of PPP loans, 7(a) loans, 504 loans or microloans, contact your lending institution.
  • What you need will depend on the type, purpose and size of the business you plan to start. However, as a general rule of thumb, most entrepreneurs will need to have a business plan, the necessary licensing – including registration, tax identification and employer identification numbers – be properly insured and have the financing details ironed out.