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Small business loans and grants for women

See business loan and grant options tailored to women entrepreneurs.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked

Women-owned businesses are the fastest-growing sector of the economy but only qualify for 22% of business loans, according to a US Senate report. There are no small business loans exclusively available to women. But several have assistance programs for women entrepreneurs to help level the playing field.

Our team has spent over 360 hours researching lenders before selecting this list of business small business loans for women. We considered factors like rates, terms, loan amounts and customer reviews before selecting our top picks — which we update regularly. Recent updates include replacing SBG Funding with Kiva as our pick for startup financing because of its commitment to supporting female business owners.

9 best small business loans for women

SmartBiz business loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5

★★★★★

Check eligibility

on SmartBiz business loans’s secure site

Best for finding an SBA loan: SmartBiz business loans

650
Min. Credit Score
6.25%
Starting APR
$5,000,000
Loan Amount

Smartbiz cuts the time it takes to apply for a loan backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) down to just a few weeks — versus the normal multi-month process. And while there is a referral and packaging fee to use Smartbiz’s service, women-owned businesses can take advantage of the low rates that SBA loans have to offer.

  • Compare regular bank loans and SBA loans
  • Cuts weeks out of SBA loan turnaround time
  • Simplified online application
  • Charges SBA referral and packaging fees
  • No loans under $30,000
  • Relatively high starting APR of 7.99% on non-SBA loans
Min. Loan Amount $30,000
Max. Loan Amount $5,000,000
APR 4.75% to 7.00%
Interest Rate Type Variable
Min. Credit Score 650
Minimum Loan Term 120 months
Maximum Loan Term 300 months
Lendio business loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.75 / 5

★★★★★

Check eligibility

on Lendio business loans’s secure site

Best marketplace: Lendio business loans

560
Min. Credit Score
6%
Starting APR
$5,000,000
Loan Amount

For women who aren’t sure where to begin the process, Lendio works with over 300 lenders to help your business find the right fit. Its lenders may charge an origination fee, but you may also qualify for rates as low as 6%. And like Smartbiz, Lendio can connect your business with an SBA lender.

  • Network of over 300 lenders
  • Wide range of business loan options
  • Bad personal credit accepted
  • Must pay origination fee after loan is finalized
  • May receive marketing material from lenders
Min. Loan Amount $500
Max. Loan Amount $5,000,000
APR Starting at 6%
Interest Rate Type Variable
Min. Credit Score 560
Minimum Loan Term 12 months
Maximum Loan Term 300 months
Fundbox business loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.76 / 5

★★★★★

Check eligibility

on Fundbox business loans’s secure site

Best for invoice financing: Fundbox business loans

600
Min. Credit Score
4.99%
Starting APR
$150,000
Loan Amount

For women whose businesses work through invoicing, Fundbox provides a solid way to finance up to 100% of an unpaid invoice. And because you connect your accounting software directly to Fundbox, you won’t need to have your personal credit checked.

  • May receive funds in 1 business day
  • Receive 100% of invoice’s value
  • Bad credit OK
  • Must use supported bookkeeping software
  • Comes with weekly repayments
  • Steep late fees
Min. Loan Amount $1,000
Max. Loan Amount $150,000
APR 4.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 600
Turnaround Time As soon as 1 business day
LendingClub business loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5

★★★★★

Check eligibility

on LendingClub business loans’s secure site

Best peer-to-peer loan: LendingClub business loans

580
Min. Credit Score
12.15%
Starting APR
$500,000
Loan Amount

LendingClub may have a higher starting APR than many lenders, but it’s able to offer loans to women who have fair credit and whose businesses only make around $50,000 annually. But be prepared to pay an origination fee for a relatively long turnaround.

  • Less strict eligibility requirements
  • Get funds in just a few days
  • Only requires $50,000 in annual revenue
  • High origination fee of 5.99%
  • APRs capped at a high 29.97%
  • Requires collateral on loans over $100,000
Min. Loan Amount $5,000
Max. Loan Amount $500,000
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 580
Minimum Loan Term 12 months
Maximum Loan Term 60 months

Best startup loan: Kiva business loans

None
Min. Credit Score
0%
Starting APR
$15,000
Loan Amount

This startup-friendly microlender offers 0% APR microloans to women entrepreneurs — if you solicit donations from 5 to 35 members of your community before you apply. It works with all credit types and offers funding as low as $25. While its women’s entrepreneurship fund isn’t available in the US, one of its core missions is helping women achieve gender equity worldwide. It’s funded a total of $960 in business loans for women across the world.

  • 0% APR
  • Loans as low as $25
  • No minimum credit score
  • Turnaround of around 45 days
  • No loans over $15,000
  • Financing relies on your community ties
Min. Loan Amount $25
Max. Loan Amount $15,000
APR 0%
Interest Rate Type N/A
Minimum Loan Term 1 months
Maximum Loan Term 3 months

Best line of credit: BlueVine business lines of credit

650
Min. Credit Score
4.8%
Starting APR
$250,000
Loan Amount

BlueVine offers revolving lines of credit with low starting APRs. Each draw is treated like a loan with its own unique repayment terms — but that does mean multiple draws can lead to multiple weekly repayments. And while convenient, the high minimum time in business and monthly revenue requirements may make it difficult for some women-owned businesses to qualify.

  • Fast approval
  • Pay only for what you withdraw
  • Same-day funding costs $15
  • Repayments are weekly
  • APR can potentially run high
Min. Loan Amount $5,000
Max. Loan Amount $250,000
APR Starting at 4.8%
Interest Rate Type Variable
Min. Credit Score 650
Minimum Loan Term 6 months
Maximum Loan Term 12 months
Turnaround Time as little as 24 hours

Best for female veterans: StreetShares small business loans

640
Min. Credit Score
8%
Starting APR
$250,000
Loan Amount

Women who have served our country may be eligible for up to $250,000 from StreetShares. It has one of the lowest annual revenue requirements out there, and it offers both loans and lines of credit. Veterans are also able to sign up for training, mentorship programs and grants.

  • Transparent about costs
  • Excellent customer service
  • Access to training for veterans
  • High origination fee of 3.95% or 4.95%
  • More expensive than an SBA loan
  • Low maximum loan amount of $250,000
Min. Loan Amount $2,000
Max. Loan Amount $250,000
APR Starting at 8%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 640
Minimum Loan Term 3 months
Maximum Loan Term 36 months

Best for getting additional support: Accion business loans

575
Min. Credit Score
10.99%
Starting APR
$250,000
Loan Amount

This microlender goes beyond offering loans by providing services to help female entrepreneurs succeed. It can help you find a bank or lawyer — or even get certified as a Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) or Woman Business Enterprise (WBE). However, it has slightly tighter requirements than other female-focused microlenders.

  • Competitive rates — especially for a microloan
  • Low credit scores OK
  • No prepayment penalty
  • High fees
  • Limited loan amounts
  • Slow application
Min. Loan Amount $300
Max. Loan Amount $250,000
APR 10.99% to 22%
Fee 4% to 5%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 575
Minimum Loan Term 6 months
Maximum Loan Term 60 months

Best for low-income entrepreneurs: Grameen America business loans

None
Min. Credit Score
15%
Starting APR
$15,000
Loan Amount

Grameen America microloans are designed with low-income female entrepreneurs in mind. While its rates start higher than some other options, it’s competitive for startup financing — especially if you have bad credit. But it’s not available to everyone: You have to live in one of the 15 cities it has branches in to qualify.

  • Startups can qualify
  • Funding designed for low-income women
  • Loans as low as $2,000 available
  • No online loans
  • Only available in 15 cities
  • High rates compared to standard business loans
Min. Loan Amount $2,000
Max. Loan Amount $15,000
APR 15% to 18%
Interest Rate Type Fixed

Best types of small business loans for women

Finding the right kind of lender is key to getting funding that fits your business’s needs. These types of lenders typically offer

Best for entrepreneurs: Microloans

Microloans are your best bet when you want to start a new business. These small-dollar loans come with some of the lowest rates available to entrepreneurs — most microlenders are CDFIs or other nonprofits. Many also have programs tailored to women-owned businesses.

Most microlenders offer small term loans, usually under $10,000. They're ideal for covering those small initial costs like buying a web domain and purchasing inventory. To get the most out of your microlender, look for one that offers mentorship programs to women business owners.

Best for new businesses: Microloans, online loans and SBA funding

You can still benefit from microloans after you've opened your doors — though you might want to also start looking into online lenders and SBA funding.

  • Online loans. These are often open to businesses that have been around for as little as six months and go up to $500,000.
  • SBA loans. The SBA microloan program can help your business access more affordable rates for loans up to $50,000 and is available to startups.

Some lenders also offer lines of credit in addition to term loans, which can be useful for working capital expenses.

Best for your first few years in business: CDFIs, community bank and online loans

Online lenders, credit unions and community development financial institutions might be your best bet during this time. These lenders typically have lower time-in-business requirements, and you might not need to be profitable to qualify. Here, you'll find the most common types of business financing options, including term loans, equipment financing, lines of credit, SBA loans and commercial real estate loans.

Some community banks and CDFIs offer loans based on your personal finances to help you build up your business financials first. Some might also have special programs for women-owned businesses.

Best for established businesses: Bank loans

After your business has been around for at least three years, your business is established enough to qualify for large long-term loans at the most competitive rates. You have the track record to qualify for a bank loan or larger amounts of SBA funding, including its popular 7(a) program.

Best for bad credit: Microloans and online loans

Online lenders and microloans could be your best choice if you have bad credit, no matter how long your business has been around. These typically have lower minimum credit scores for business owners.

Microlenders might offer more favorable rates, while online lenders have a faster turnaround. But watch out for high-cost loans targeting bad credit business owners. Products like merchant cash advances and invoice factoring often with high fees and short loan terms that result in APRs over 100%.

Best for emergencies: Online loans

Go with an online lender when you need financing as soon as possible. Lenders that specialize in financing for women-owned businesses are often slow — think a few weeks or a month.

An online lender can get your funds in 24 to 48 hours after approval — or even the same day in some cases. Like with bad credit lenders, loans with a fast turnaround tend to have higher interest rates.

Business grants for women

Depending on the nature of your business, you have a few places to turn to for grants — including both government options and private programs.

The federal government, state and local governments and many private organizations offer grants to help fund women-owned businesses. You can start your search for federal grants on Grants.gov and Challenge.gov. Or, consider one of these private organizations:

  • Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
  • WomensNet Amber Grant
  • 37 Angels
  • NASE Growth Grant
  • FedEx Small Business Grant
  • Girlboss Foundation Grant
  • Open Meadows Foundation
  • Idea Cafe Small Business Grant
  • WomanOwned

Coronavirus grants for women-owned businesses

While there are no nationally-available grants specifically for women, there may be programs available in your area. Check with your local women's business center to find out what options are available to you in your state and industry. You can find your closest center on the SBA website. And read our guide to financing your business during the COVID-19 to learn about more options.

Organizations for women business owners

There are several national and local organizations that can offer support and resources to women-run businesses.

You’ll likely need to become a member and pay annual dues. But in exchange, you’ll get access to training programs, discounts from merchants and services, and help applying for financing like SBA loans. Some can also connect you with incubator funds to get your startup off the ground or certify your company as a Woman-Owned Small Business. These include:

  • Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC)
  • DreamBuilder
  • National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
  • National Women’s Business Council (NWBC)
  • National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC)
  • National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)
  • National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses (NAWRB)
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
  • U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
  • Womensphere
  • WomanOwned

SBA resources for women business owners

The SBA offers several resources designed to empower women-owned businesses:

  • Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO). Get training, counseling and help with financing and applying for federal contracts through this program. It’s available at SBA Women’s Business Centers (WBCs).
  • SBA 8(a) Business Development Program. Apply to participate in this program to find a mentor, get help with applying for contracts set aside for women-owned companies, and get access to other trainings and assistance.
  • Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program. Apply directly to contracts set aside specifically for women-owned small businesses.
  • Ascent. Use this informational hub as a virtual textbook to guide you through the process of starting a business. It covers the basics — but you'll need to reach out to a business center for personalized advice.

Compare more business loans for women

Data updated regularly
Name Product Filter Values Loan amount APR Requirements

Fora Financial business loans

Fora Financial business loans
$5,000 – $500,000
Varies
6+ months in business, $12,000+ monthly revenue, no open bankruptcies
Get qualified for funding in minutes for up to $500,000 without affecting your credit score. Great for SBA loan applicants.

ROK Financial business loans

ROK Financial business loans
$10,000 – $5,000,000
Starting at 6%
Eligibility criteria 3+ months in business, $15,000+ in monthly gross sales or $180,000+ in annual sales
A connection service for all types of businesses — even startups.

OnDeck small business loans
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★

OnDeck small business loans
$5,000 – $250,000
As low as 11.89%
600+ personal credit score, 1 year in business, $100,000+ annual revenue
A leading online business lender offering flexible financing at competitive fixed rates.

Lendio business loans
Finder Rating: 4.75 / 5: ★★★★★

Lendio business loans
$500 – $5,000,000
Starting at 6%
Operate business in US or Canada, have a business bank account, 560+ personal credit score
Submit one simple application to potentially get offers from a network of over 300 legit business lenders.

Rapid Finance small business loans
Finder Rating: 3.74 / 5: ★★★★★

Rapid Finance small business loans
$5,000 – $1,000,000
Fee based
Steady flow of credit card sales, bad credit OK
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Compare up to 4 providers

Does my business qualify for a loan?

Business requirements tend to vary depending on the type of loan you’re interested in. But you generally need to meet the following criteria to get a standard term loan from a traditional lender:

  • Good to excellent credit
  • At least three years in business
  • At least $100,000 in annual revenue

If you don’t meet these requirements, you still have options. You might want to look into microlenders, CDFIs and online lenders. Your company doesn’t need to be majority-owned by a woman to apply for a business loan designed with female entrepreneurs in mind.

Find financing options for minority-owned businesses

What information do I need to apply?

Different lenders will require different documentation, but you’ll typically need a basic level of information to apply across the board. Here’s a breakdown of what you might be asked to submit when applying:

Business information

  • Business tax returns
  • Business bank statements
  • Lease agreements if you operate out of a storefront
  • Proof of business ownership
  • Business asset transactions
  • State filings
  • Business plan

Personal information

  • Personal tax returns
  • Social Security number
  • Contact information and mailing address
  • Proof of residency
  • Personal credit score

How to apply for a business loan

Think you’re ready to apply for financing? Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Compare your options. Once you figure out how much funding you need, compare your options based on loan amounts, APR, fees, speed and eligibility requirements.
  2. Prequalify. Some business loan providers let you prequalify online by filling out a short form on their website — just make sure it doesn’t require a hard credit check.
  3. Gather your documents. When you’ve found the lender you’re interested in working with, check their website or call customer service to see what documents and information you’ll need to provide in the application.
  4. Fill out the application. Some lenders offer fully online applications, while others might require you to apply in person.
  5. Complete an interview, if required. Many traditional business loan providers (especially banks) require an interview, during which you’ll give a presentation that demonstrates both the security of your business plan and your financial need.
  6. Wait for a response. Decisions can take a week or more, so you could be in limbo for a bit. The process is further delayed if your paperwork isn’t in order, so be sure to double-check everything before you submit.

Bottom line

You’ll get the most out of loans made for women-owned businesses if you’re an entrepreneur or a startup. But you can still benefit from the wide variety of resources meant to empower female entrepreneurs well after you’ve started turning a profit. Read our guide to business loans to find other financing options that fit your needs.

Frequently asked questions

Answers to common questions about getting a business loan for women.

What qualifies as a woman-owned business?

Generally, at least 51% of a company must be owned by women to qualify as a woman-owned business. But some grant and assistance programs might have higher ownership requirements. That's why it's a good idea to clarify the requirements before you apply for a loan or grant program for women.

Is it easier for a woman to get a business loan?

It shouldn't be easier or harder for a woman to get a small business loan compared to other genders. That's because lenders aren’t allowed to discriminate based on gender — meaning that requirements work the same as any other lender.

But female business owners still qualify for less funding than their male counterparts on average. If you think you're a victim of credit discrimination, file a complaint against the lender with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

What are application processing times like?

How long the application process takes depends on the lender, your business and the type of loan. It can only take a few minutes to process an online loan, while the application process for bank loans and SBA loans can take over a month.

How do I qualify for a small business grant?

To qualify for a small business grant, you must meet the grant program's requirements. Grants for women business owners typically require you to have a business that is at majority-owned by a woman. Other requirements might include revenue, location, number of employees and other factors.

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