Nearly 12 million women own businesses around the country. But those businesses don’t always receive the funding they need.
In fact, only 15 percent of women-owned firms raise at least $100,000 in funding. Compare this to 28 percent of male-owned businesses.
Co-Founder and President of Kabbage Kathryn Petralia addressed this issue in an email interview with Small Business Trends.
“Venture capital has, unfortunately, underserved female founders, but as more women become VCs and female founders can better identify with and more easily access the VC ecosystem, that will change.”
New Opportunities for Women-Owned Businesses
New funding changed the landscape in the investing world. Now new funding tools may also help to solve some of this discrepancy in funding. Kabbage leads as one of the firms offering options. The company seeks to remove some of the disparity when it comes to access.
Petralia says, “I describe Kabbage’s automated lending platform as bias-blind. Since our solution is fully online and automated, we evaluate creditworthiness strictly by analyzing a company’s real-time data. Kabbage customers never have to walk into a bank and sit across from a banker who may evaluate them for more than that.”
In order to make use of Kabbage’s business’s funding options, you simply apply online by adding basic information about yourself, your business and your finances. You can also link your online financial accounts on a secure platform so Kabbage can take more information into account than just your credit score.
Kabbage then processes that data and determines whether or not you’re approved for a line of credit. You just need to be in business for at least a year and have at least $50,000 in revenue to qualify. And you can apply for up to $250,000 for a six-month or one-year term.
And that’s just one of the new funding options that has been born in recent years to serve the changing needs of small businesses. There are several online platforms offering microloans, working capital loans, merchant advances and short-term loans to help small businesses that are often underserved by traditional bank funding.
Changes to the Business Landscape
Of course, business funding isn’t a specifically gendered issue. But there can sometimes be small biases present throughout the process that present more roadblocks for those who don’t fit into the traditional mold of a business owner. So automated platforms that remove those biases from the equation can make it easier for female entrepreneurs, racial minorities and young people to get the funding they need, as long as their business data supports it.
However, this access to funding is just one of the ways in which the small business landscape is becoming more diverse. Petralia believes that it’s also important for companies of all sizes to embrace diversity in their own teams.
She says, “Studies show companies with more diverse boardrooms and leadership teams are more successful. Diversity of thought, approach and strategy are critical for business success. I feel the same applies to the growth of a town, city, state or nation. We are all better when a more diverse pool of entrepreneurs are solving the challenges facing industries and consumers. We need a variety of entrepreneurs trying to solve them—and that expands well beyond gender.”
In turn, that increase in diversity may also make more lending agencies more apt to lend to different types of businesses and founders. So the cycle continues to improve the entire landscape.
Funding Tips for Women Business Owners
Regardless of gender, having the proper funding can make a major impact on the viability of a business. But obtaining that funding is never a given. Banks see new businesses as major risks, especially if the founders lack experience. And many traditional financial institutions don’t offer many options for companies looking for less than $250,000, according to Petralia.
For that reason, it’s essential for all small business owners to go into the funding process with a lot of preparation. And it’s even more important for female entrepreneurs that could fact additional challenges throughout the process.
Petralia says, “My one encouragement for any female founder seeking funding is this: Intimately know every aspect of your business. Investors are investing in you just as much as they’re investing in your idea or vision. You must know the minutiae of your business—from the market opportunity to your company’s numbers. Your confidence will speak volumes when seeking capital.”
In addition, having a firm handle on your company’s financials, as well as your own personal credit history can help you determine what funding opportunities may be best suited to your business. Whether you go for a line of capital from companies like Kabbage or a traditional bank loan, it’s important to understand all of the rules and what each lender is looking for so you’ll have the best chance of approval.
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This is great. Entrepreneurship is growing and it is helping a lot of people.