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Best small business loans for women in April 2024

Apr 12, 2024
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Compare the best business loans for women in April 2024

LENDER AND LOAN TYPE BEST FOR MIN. FICO CREDIT SCORE LOAN AMOUNT MIN. TIME IN BUSINESS
Quickbridge small business loans Short-term loans 600 $10,000 to $500,000 6 months
SMB Compass term loans Long-term funding 680 $25,000 to $5 million 6 months
OnDeck line of credit Working capital 625 $6,000 to $100,000 1 year
Taycor Financial equipment financing Equipment financing 550 $500 to $5 million Startups eligible
Huntington Bank Lift Local Business loans Waived fees Not disclosed; "lower" $1,000 to $150,000 Not disclosed
Accion Opportunity Fund Small Business Progress Loans Extra support Not disclosed $5,000 to $100,000 Not disclosed
Kiva microloans Crowdfunded microloans Not applicable $1,000 to $15,000 Not disclosed
SBA 7(a) loans Government-backed loans Varies Up to $5 million Startups eligible

Quickbridge small business loans: Best for short-term loans

Minimum FICO credit score
600
Minimum annual revenue
$250,000
Minimum time in business
6 months
Factor rate from
6.20%
Loan amount
$10,000 to $500,000
Term lengths
4 to 24 months

 

Overview: Quickbridge was founded in 2011 to help small business owners access working capital. Meant for companies that need cash quickly without a long-term commitment, Quickbridge’s short-term loans are available for up to $500,000. Funding may be available within 24 hours following approval.

Why Quickbridge is best for short-term loans: The short term lengths —  for to 24 months — and potential for an early payoff discount make Quickbridge best for short-term loans. The lender has a fast funding process, with funds possibly available within 24 hours of approval.

Pros

  • Quick application process
  • Fast funding times
  • Early payoff discount

Cons

  • No monthly payment option
  • Origination fee of 1% to 3%
  • Interest rates and fees not shown online

SMB Compass term loans: Best for long-term funding

Minimum FICO credit score
680
Minimum annual revenue
$500,000
Minimum time in business
6 months
Interest rate from:
6.99%
Loan amount
$25,000 to $5 million
Term lengths
2 to 25 years

 

Overview: With a focus on business owners, SMB Compass is an online lender that offers loans and financial education. The lender offers term loans up to $5 million. Borrowers can choose from flexible payment terms. SMB Compass also offers bridge and SBA loans, lines of credit and equipment, inventory and invoice financing.

Why SMB Compass is best for long-term funding: SMB Compass offers longer term lengths than many other lenders. Equipment loans can be financed for up to 10 years, while SBA loans and some business term loans can be extended to 25 years.

Pros

  • Flexible payment terms
  • Long term length
  • High loan amounts

Cons

  • Steep annual revenue requirement
  • Funding may take up to 7 days
  • Not available for owners with bad credit

OnDeck line of credit: Best for working capital 

Minimum FICO credit score
625
Minimum annual revenue
$100,000
Minimum time in business
1 year
Interest rate from
29.90%
Loan amount
$6,000 to $100,000
Term lengths
Up to 12 months

 

Overview: Founded in 2006 to help small businesses get financing, OnDeck uses data analytics and digital technology in its approval process. You have up to 12 months to repay each draw. Payments are reported to business credit bureaus, so timely repayments will help you grow your business credit score

Why OnDeck is best for working capital: Not only does OnDeck’s business line of credit give borrowers instant access to funds for draws between $1,000 and $10,000, but the repayment term resets with each new draw.  

Pros

  • Lower annual revenue requirement
  • Soft credit pull 
  • Instant access to funds

Cons

  • High interest rates
  • Longer time in business requirement
  • Not available in every state

Taycor Financial equipment financing: Best for equipment financing

Minimum FICO credit score
550
Minimum annual revenue
None for requests under $250,000
Minimum time in business
Startups eligible
Interest rate from
4.99% to 35.000%
Loan amount
$500 to $2 million
Term lengths
12 months to 7 years

 

Overview: Taycor Financial, which has offices in California and Utah, has been serving businesses for close to 30 years. Taycor also offers equipment lease funding, refinancing and sale leaseback options, plus other business loan types.

Why Taycor Financial is best for equipment financing: Taycor Financial does not require a down payment for equipment financing, instead offering 100 percent equipment financing. It offers a wide loan amount range and a low starting interest rate. After approval, you’ll have 90 days to shop around for equipment.

Pros

  • Available to startups
  • One-page application for loans <$400,000
  • Lower credit score requirement

Cons

  • Documentation fee
  • Rates and fees unclear before applying
  • Revenue requirements for larger loans unclear

Huntington Bank Lift Local Business loans: Best for waived fees 

Minimum FICO credit score
“Lower credit score requirements”
Minimum annual revenue
Not disclosed
Minimum time in business
Not disclosed
Interest rate from
Not disclosed
Loan amount
$1,000 to $150,000
Term lengths
Not disclosed

 

Overview: Founded in 1866, Huntington Bank is a traditional regional bank based in Columbus, Ohio. Its Lift Local Business program launched in 2020 and supports women-owned businesses, along with minority- and veteran-owned businesses, throughout their lifecycle. Women-owned businesses have received 32 percent of loans issued through the Lift Local Business program. Approved loans come with free financial and entrepreneurial courses.

Why Huntington Bank Lift Local Business loans are best for waived fees: With Huntington Bank’s Lift Local Business loans, you are not charged origination fees. And, if you’re talking out a SBA loan, Huntington Bank will pay the fees on your behalf. Additionally, you won’t have a service fee on select checking accounts or return check fees.

Pros

  • Heavy focus on women-owned businesses
  • Multiple fees, including SBA fees, waived
  • Traditional bank

Cons

  • Only available in 10 states
  • Many details not disclosed, making comparisons difficult
  • Low maximum loan amount

Accion Opportunity Fund Small Business Progress Loans: Best for extra support 

Minimum FICO credit score
Not disclosed
Minimum annual revenue
Not disclosed
Minimum time in business
Not disclosed
Interest rate from
5.99% to 16.99%
Loan amount
$5,000 to $100,000
Term lengths
12 months to 5 years

 

Overview: Since 2020, global non-profit Accion has been operating the Accion Opportunity Fund. The fund provides financial support for small businesses that advance gender, racial and economic justice.

The program doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score, stating it looks beyond that number to assess business viability.

Why Accion Opportunity Fund Small Business Loans are best for extra support: Borrowers of Accion Opportunity Fund Small Business Loans gain access to coaching, support networks and educational resources in both Spanish and English.

Pros

  • Support provided in English and Spanish
  • Customized loans and repayment terms
  • Mentoring and support provided

Cons

  • Unclear eligibility criteria
  • Low maximum loan amount
  • Not available in every state

Kiva microloans: Best for crowdfunded microloans 

Minimum FICO credit score
Not applicable
Minimum annual revenue
Not disclosed
Minimum time in business
Not disclosed
Interest rate
No interest
Loan amount
Up to $15,000
Term lengths
Up to 3 years

 

Overview: Founded in 2005, Kiva is an international non-profit that provides financial services to underserved communities through crowdfunded peer-to-peer loans.

After applying, business owners will be contacted by a Kiva representative within 10-15 business days. For this crowdfunded loan, borrowers must demonstrate social capital by having five to 35 friends and family members lend money through the network during a 15-day private fundraising period. This is followed by a 30-day public fundraising period to raise the remaining funds.

Why Kiva microloans are best for crowdfunded microloans: Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, Kiva does not charge its borrowers and interest rate. You also do not need a minimum credit score. And, in mid-2022, Bank of America established the Loan Fund for Women Entrepreneurs and committed $1 million to matching pledges while funds last. 

Pros

  • Fast online application
  • Few qualification requirements
  • No fees

Cons

  • Can take as long as 60 days to received funds
  • Low maximum loan amount
  • Family and friends must contribute

SBA (7)a loans: Best for government-backed loans 

Minimum FICO credit score
Varies
Minimum annual revenue
Varies
Minimum time in business
Startups eligible
Interest rate
Up to prime + 8%
Loan amount
Up to $5 million
Term lengths
5 to 25 years

 

Overview: The Small Business Administration operates the 7(a) loan program for small businesses. It can be used for real estate purchases, construction or renovation, business acquisition or expansion, working capital, equipment purchases and refinancing business debt. Rates are set by the lender, so there could be a wide range. However, the government sets maximum rates, capping out at prime + 8 percent. 

Why SBA (7)a loans are best for government-backed loans: The SBA guarantees 85 percent of the loan if it’s under $150,000 and 75 percent if it’s over $150,000. And, the SBA offers a Lender Match tool to help you select the best lending institution for your needs.

Pros

  • Backed by the government
  • Lower interest rates that are capped
  • Longer repayment terms

Cons

  • Requires a great deal of documentation 
  • Rates are set by the lender
  • Long funding time — up to 90 days

The Bankrate guide to choosing the women's business loans

Across the United States, women own close to 13 million companies, according to a study commissioned by American Express. With 9.4 million employees, women-owned businesses annually generate an estimated $1.9 trillion in sales.

But despite the economic impact female business owners have, it’s harder for them to be approved for business loans. In fact, they are about 18 percent less likely than men to be approved. The outlook is even worse for women of color, who were two to three times more likely than male business owners to be denied COVID-19 relief funding. 

To help women business owners find business loans, Bankrate has rated the lending institutions that offer the best business loans for women. While these loans are not limited just to women business owners, these lenders offer features and flexibility that may appeal to borrowers who’ve struggled to get approved with other lenders.

Among the factors considered we considered were availability, interest rates, required time in business, minimum annual revenue and fees.

Requirements for women’s business loans

Each lending institution has their own set of qualification requirements for applying for one of their loans. Most set minimum requirements around your personal credit score, time in business and annual revenue, among other factors.

 Women may face challenges in meeting some of these requirements. Typically, women have a lower income than men do. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. 

Among the top industries for women-owned businesses are retail establishments, restaurants, business services and health and beauty. These are often industries with thin margins and high risk of failure, which could make securing funding challenging.

Lenders often request documentation on the following:

  • Your name, address, phone number, date of birth and Social Security number
  • Annual revenue
  • Recent bank statements
  • Previous tax returns
  • Business plan
  • Business licenses and registration 
  • Most recent and projected balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statements
  • List of other debts and obligations

How to apply for a business loan for women

As with loan requirements, there is no set standard for loan applications among lending institutions. But here are the basic steps for women applying for a business loan:

  1. Choose the type of loan you need — for example, real estate, equipment, working capital, etc.
  2. Decide how much money you want to borrow.
  3. Determine your eligibility.
  4. Compare lenders. Make sure to consider online lenders alongside banks and credit unions.
  5. Gather the documentation your lending institution requires.
  6. Submit your application.

Types of women’s business loans

Your choice on the type of business loan to use depends on the reason you need the funds. There are several types to choose from.

Term loans

Term loans are one of the most common types of business loans for women. They can be used for a variety of purposes and are often available both to established businesses and startups. 

Pros

  • High maximum amounts
  • Multiple uses

Cons

  • May require a personal guarantee
  • May have high interest rates

Equipment financing

Whether you need to buy heavy duty construction equipment or computers for the office, you may want to pay for it through equipment financing. This type of financing is typically secured using the equipment as collateral.

Pros

  • Lower interest rates
  • Widely available

Cons

  • Equipment could be seized if you default on the payments
  • May have high monthly payments

Commercial real estate

If you want to establish a physical location, expand in your current location or add a second location, you may want a commercial real estate loan. Like a personal mortgage, this type of loan is backed by the property.

Pros

  • Lower interest rates
  • Longer repayment terms

Cons

  • More involved application process
  • Typically not available for startups

SBA loan

The Small Business Administration offers several types of loans that can be used for a variety of purposes. Backed by the government, SBA loans offer competitive rates.

Pros

  • Lower interest rates
  • Limited fees
  • Large maximum amounts

Cons

  • Strict eligibility requirements
  • Funding process is slow

Microloan

Designed for new businesses, microloans provide funding at lower amounts, typically up to $50,000. They are available through the SBA, nonprofits and online lenders.

Pros

  • Available for new businesses
  • Generous eligibility requirements

Cons

  • Lower funding amounts
  • Higher interest rates

Where to get women’s business loans

When searching for small business loans for women, some people may limit their applications to traditional banks and credit unions. While they are a major source of loans, there are other lending institutions to consider. These include online lenders and nonprofits.

Traditional banks, like Bank of America or U.S. Bank, and credit unions are a good choice if you have good credit, have been in business for a couple of years and have strong annual revenue figures. They typically offer a variety of loan products and lower interest rates. However, they may have strict eligibility and extensive documentation requirements.

Online lenders include online banks, such as Ally, and financial services lenders like Fora Financial. They often have a simpler application process and quick approval and funding times. But they may have higher interest rates and limited customer support.

Some nonprofits offer microloan programs, which may target underserved communities like women, people of color and veterans. They may require a lower credit score. But they typically offer smaller loan amounts and slower approval times.

How to choose a lender

Securing your business loan starts by choosing your lender. The following steps will help you through that journey.

  1. Consider the different types of lending institutions. Evaluate the options provided by banks, credit unions, online lenders and nonprofits.
  2. Decide on the purpose of the loan. Identifying how you’ll use the funds will help you choose a loan type.
  3. Evaluate your business’s qualifications. Knowing in advance where you stand with the common requirements will help direct you to the right lending institution.
  4. Compile a list of lending options. If, for example, you decided in step 1 that you want to borrow from a credit union, make a list of credit unions that offer the type of loan you’re seeking.
  5. Compare details. For each lending institution listed, compare interest rates, term lengths, fees and other details such as credit score and revenue requirements. Select the one that best fits your business.

Alternatives to business loans for women

If you don’t qualify for a business loan from any of these lending institutions or if you decided taking out a business loan is not the best way to fund your business, there are several other options available to you.

Grants

Grants available to women are offered through the federal government and private entities. The benefit of securing a grant is these funds do not need to be paid back. Grants typically have a competitive application process and low acceptance rate. Plus, funds may only be issued at set times throughout the year — grants aren’t great for quick cash.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding involves a time-limited, fundraising campaign typically executed on online funding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Businesses publicize their campaign and seek out backers who will donate money. 

Crowdfunding can be a good avenue for launch new products. The funds will come from many investors, helping you build a customer base for your product. However, many crowdfunding campaigns do not reach their goal. Some platforms don’t disburse funds unless you meet your goal. Additionally, the fees to use the funding platform can be steep.

Business credit cards

Business credit cards operate like personal credit cards but often have a higher credit limit. Some have extended interest-free periods and provide rewards based on your spending. However, interest rates may be steep.

Angel investors

Angel investors can either be a single individual or a group of people that invest in businesses. They typically invest in startups in exchange for equity in the business. Additionally, since angel investors often take a small ownership stake, they serve as mentors to help owners grow the business.

Venture capital

Venture capital is funding provided to businesses from private equity groups in exchange for an ownership stake in the business. These private equity groups receive a return on their investment when the business is sold. Venture capital is typically available to more established companies.

However, this is a difficult avenue of funding for female business owners. In 2022, female-only founded companies received only 2 percent of funding from venture capital, the lowest amount since 2017.

Other resources for women entrepreneurs

Beyond funding, there are a wealth of resources for women business owners.

Women’s Business Centers: Operated through the SBA, Women’s Business Centers provide counseling and training to women who want to start, grow and expand their business. There are centers located throughout the country.

National Association of Women Business Owners: Founded in 1975, NAWBO has local chapters throughout the country and represents more than 10 million women-owned businesses. It provides advocacy, certification and resources.

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council: Founded in 1997, WBENC provides advocacy, certification, networking and resources for women business owners.

International Association of Women: This organization provides female executives with networking events, professional development opportunities and business development and promotional services. 

FAQs about women's business loans

Methodology

To choose the best loans for women, we considered features that make loans affordable and accessible to businesses with different characteristics and needs, including interest rates, required time in business, minimum annual revenue and fees. Additionally, lenders were evaluated for notable features such as funding speed and nontraditional eligibility criteria.