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Women’s Economic Ventures business loans review

Startup and expansion funding for women-owned businesses in California's Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

  • Best for women- and minority-owned businesses that have struggled to qualify for a bank loan and want business training.
  • Pick something else if you want to avoid fees or need money fast.
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Min. Amount$250
Max. Amount$150,000
Loan TermUp to 84 months
APR10% to 15%
RequirementsSanta Barbara or Ventura County California resident; demonstrated business experience or training; own at least 51% of business; written business plan for loans over $5,000; US citizen, permanent resident or have an ITIN number Legal states or regions: California

First, do I qualify?

WEV requires business owners to meet the following requirements:

  • Resident of San Barbara or Ventura County for at least a year
  • Own 51% of business or more
  • US citizen, permanent resident or have ITIN and filed taxes in the most recent year
  • Have a written business plan if requesting a loan over $5,000
  • Eligible experience

If you haven’t already owned a business, you must complete WEV’s 14-week Smart Entrepreneurial Training (SET) course or show that you’ve received equivalent business training somewhere else. If you want an expansion loan, your business must be around for at least one year.

What makes WEV business loans unique?

WEV offers the tools to make sure that business owners are set up for success — and goes beyond what many other microlenders offer. You can’t receive funding if you don’t have business training, which WEV offers on a sliding scale.

When you apply, WEV takes a close look at what you need to make sure you’re getting terms your business can work with. The upside is you can get approved even if you have bad credit, are just starting out or don’t have a Social Security number.


  • Large amounts for a microlender
  • SBA funding available
  • Low maximum APR for a microlender
  • Access to business training courses
  • Spanish-language applications available


  • Application and origination fee
  • Only available in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties
  • Requires presentation to committee for loans over $5,000
  • Turnaround of four weeks or longer

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How do I apply?

You can get started on your application through the WEV website. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the WEV website.
  2. Under Programs, select Loans & Financial Resources.
  3. Navigate to the Basic Start-Up Loan or Basic Expansion Loan page.
  4. Click Apply Here.
  5. Answer the yes or no questions to make sure you’re eligible. Click Let’s Get Started.
  6. Fill out the form with basic information about how much you want to borrow and create login credentials. Click Next.
  7. Complete the required fields with information about your business. Click Next.
  8. Provide the required information about yourself, before clicking Next again.
  9. Upload any required documents and review your application before following the directions to submit.

If you’re applying for over $5,000, WEV will reach out to have you present your business plan to its loan committee.

It can take between four and six weeks to get your funds if you’re applying for a loan under $5,000. Loans over that amount can take as long as eight weeks just to receive a decision.

What documents do I need to apply?

How much documentation you need to provide depends on how much you want to borrow. Here’s what you need to have on hand at a minimum:

  • Application for a business credit or authorization request for your business credit report
  • Cashflow projections
  • Personal financial statement
  • Most recent income taxes

For loans over $5,000, you also need to provide a written business plan and a repayment plan for the loan you’re applying to take out.

How do repayments work?

WEV doesn’t state how exactly loan repayments work on its website. But you can find the terms of your repayments in your loan contract. If you have any questions or concerns, contact customer service by calling 805-667-8004.

Read our guide to business loans for women to compare more options. Or find other ways to fund your company with our general guide to business loans.

Review by

Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.

Expert review

Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) is a California-based community development financial institution (CDFI) that offers startup loans and SBA microloan funding. It specializes in financing women- and minority-owned businesses in California’s Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Its real draw is the hands-on experience that other microlenders typically don’t provide. In addition to loans, it offers training courses to help entrepreneurs master the basics of running a business.

But it can take over four weeks to get your funds, and it charges more fees than your typical microlender.

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