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How to Get Business Loans for Women

Women are said to start businesses at twice the rate of men. However, women may find it difficult at first to gain access to business loans. For women, the keys to accessing capital may include looking for loan programs with more flexible terms and that participate in mentor programs.

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Know that the U.S. Small Business Administration considers its 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program to be one of its primary lending sources. The SBA does not provide money for direct lending or for grants. However, the 7(a) program is made available through banks that provide loans which are guaranteed by the SBA. Small businesses unable to get financing on reasonable terms may be able to secure a loan through the 7(a) program.

Consider applying for an SBAExpress loan if you’re seeking a small business loan for $350,000 or less. These loans are backed by an SBA guarantee of 50 percent. According to the SBA, this method makes it easier and faster for lenders to provide loans, with the SBA typically providing a loan guarantee to the lender within 36 hours of a request.

Understand that qualifying standards for SBA-backed loans can be more flexible, but lenders will ask for more specific information before deciding to use an SBA loan program. Such information includes a business profile that describes the business and its annual sales, and a description of collateral available to secure the loan.

Seek training and counseling services through the Women’s Business Centers. The SBA says the centers are designed to help women start and run businesses despite social or financial disadvantages or business experience.

Be aware that SCORE, a nonprofit association, also offers free small business advice to entrepreneurs. According to SCORE, it has 10,500 volunteer counselors who have more than 600 business skills. SCORE calls itself a resource partner with the SBA. It’s online help includes instructions on assembling a loan package and writing a business plan for a loan.

Know that SCORE recommends contacting your local, county and state development departments because they may offer funding to businesses in certain areas. SCORE recommends contacting the banks in your area as well. According to SCORE, smaller community banks cater to helping small businesses.


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