Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community. Today, about 30% of small businesses are owned by women, compared to about 5% in 1970. This is good news.
However, women business owners still face several challenges when it comes to growing their businesses and accessing capital.
According to the latest data:
- Only 3 percent of all women-owned firms have revenues of $1 million or more compared with 6% of men-owned firms. (Center for Women’s Business Research )
- Women-owned firms with revenues of $1 million or more are more likely to access commercial loans or lines of credit than other women-owned firms (70% vs. 28%). Despite the success of larger women-owned businesses, they continue to lag behind their male counterparts in using commercial credit (56% of women vs. 71% of men). Larger, faster-growing women-owned firms are more likely than other firms owned by women to use credit. (Women Impacting Public Policy  – WIPP)
- Of the WIPP women business members who sought outside funding in 2011, only 45% of businesses were successful after two attempts.
Access to growth capital is a critical factor in growing a successful business. However, as the statistics show, even when women business owners seek financing, they don’t always get it. Critical factors to ensuring that women get the funding they need often comes down to awareness and education:
- What funding sources are available?
- What is the process of securing capital?
- Who can help?
While there aren’t any specific loan programs for women business owners, there are a number of government-backed and business loans that women business owners can take advantage of and resources in your community to help you secure them. Here are two worth getting to know:
Women’s Business Centers
With a nationwide network of more than 110 offices, Women’s Business Centers  (WBCs) operate with the mission to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the world of business.
Specifically, they can help guide women through the process of finding and applying for loans, guidance on how to bid on government contracts and offer regular training seminars on financing topics. Some also provide access to alternative capital financing programs.
FACT: Government data proves that businesses that receive assistance from WBCs have significantly better survival rates than those that don’t receive similar support.
Women Accessing Capital Program
Another resource for women business owners is the Women Impacting Public Policy’s Women Accessing Capital  program. The national program is designed to educate women business owners on all steps of accessing capital, from understanding and evaluating funding sources, creating a strong application for capital, to maintaining and managing growth.
Specifically, program participants get information that can be immediately applied to advancing their businesses. Look out for events, webinars and courses that provide the necessary tools to competitively seek the appropriate type of funding, obtain much needed cash, and then manage a financed firm, to help small business owners take their businesses to the next level.
Check out the events calendar  on the main WIPP site for upcoming activities.
Hand and Woman  Photo via Shutterstock