One of the best sources of information for grants and loans for a women-owned small business is the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA. Through its online resources and local network of small business centers, it provides technical and management assistance, as well as information about federal, state and local government grants and loans and private sources. In addition, women in private networking organizations are important sources of information.
Through SBA programs for small business, the federal government backs loans and provides information about grants. To be clear, however, the federal government does not provide loans and grants directly to businesses. Private lenders that participate in federal financial programs provide the loans that are guaranteed by the SBA. Since small business loans are considered high risk, the backing of the SBA can increase the chances of a new business obtaining a loan.
The SBA provides an online search tool for loans and grants. Some of the search paths are based on whether the business is a start-up, energy efficient, owned by a woman and located in a rural area. The search results are classified into three categories: loans, grants, and seed (start-up) and venture capital. In addition, the results include information about federal, state and local government, as well as private sources.
One of the best sources for grants is a women's networking group. For example, Make Mine A Million $ Business and Woman Owned are such private organizations. Other sources include the Women's Finance website, which can lead to grants from $1,000 to $5,000, as of 2011, the Fundsnet Services website, and WomensNet.net, which offers small grants to a woman-owned small business.
The SBA's Office Of Women's Business Ownership, is a good information resource. The SBA has a number of loan-support programs. While there are no loans specifically for a woman business owner, you will receive special assistance in applying for one. Separately, some private lenders, such as Accion USA, specialize in small business loans, including those sought by women. The maximum loan amount is $50,000, as of 2011, with interest rates ranging from 9 percent to 16 percent for up to 60 months.