Best Small Business Loans for Women of 2017

Since 2007, the number of small businesses owned by women has increased at a rate five times faster than the national average. However, many female business owners still struggle getting financing. We reviewed dozens of lenders and loan programs, and below we take a look at some of the best small business loans for women.

Best Small Business Loans for Women With Bad Credit

A poor to fair credit score doesn’t mean you can’t get a small business loan. There are many alternative lenders that now specialize in lending to borrowers with limited or poor credit history.

Credibly

Credibly is a great option for borrowers with lower credit scores as there is no minimum credit score required to apply for its working capital and business expansion loans. There are also no personal guarantee or collateral requirements, making Credibly a good choice for an unsecured loan. To qualify, you’ll need to be in business at least six months with $10,000 in monthly revenue and monthly deposits to a business bank account. For the business expansion loan, there’s an additional requirement of having an average daily bank account balance of more than $1,000. You can borrow up to $250,00, with APRs starting at 10%. Terms on the loans range from six to 24 months, with daily or weekly repayment required. Another great thing about Credibly is that you can get funds in as fast as three days from starting your application.

Summary

  • 9.99% - 36%
  • Terms from 6 to 17 months
  • Lenient eligibility requirements
  • Loans up to $250,000
  • Funds in as fast as 2 days

PayPal Working Capital

PayPal offers hassle-free, fast working capital loans for merchants with business and premier PayPal accounts, and the lender requires no minimum credit score to apply. You can borrow up to 18% of your business’s annual sales, up to a maximum of $97,000. Because you’re borrowing directly from PayPal, you can receive your funds within minutes of loan approval and payment will automatically be deducted from your daily sales (however, you won’t have to pay on days you don’t make any sales). To qualify, you’ll need to process at least $15,000 or more in annual sales depending on the type of account you have. You’ll also need to use PayPal for at least three months to be eligible to apply.

Summary

  • 15% - 30%
  • Terms up to 18 months
  • Lenient eligibility requirements
  • Loans up to $150,000
  • Funds in as fast as 1 day

Best Government Small Business Loans for Women (and for Good Credit)

The Small Business Administration offers a wide variety of loan programs for all needs, and many of these programs offer some of the best financing available on the market. However, you will typically need a good personal or business credit score to qualify.

SBA 7(a) Loans

7(a) loans are the SBA’s most popular program, and with good reason: loans can be made up to $5 million with maximum interest rates from 6% to 8.5%. And according to data from the SBA, SBA loans are three to five times more likely to go to women and minority-owned small businesses. 7(a) loans can be used for a variety of business purposes, including real estate, working capital and expansion. Lenders will normally want to see borrowers with strong personal and business credit scores and financially health businesses. Funding takes a few weeks, but the SBA also offers Express 7(a) loans with a loan decision in 36 hours (however, you can only borrow up to $350,000 through the Express program).

Summary

  • 6% - 8.5% interest rates
  • Terms up to 25 years
  • Stricter eligibility requirements
  • Loan amounts up to $5 million
  • Funds in a few weeks

SBA 504 Loans

If you need to purchase real estate or long-term machinery for your business, SBA 504 loans are one of the best sources of funding. They have competitive (and at times below market rate) interest rates and low down payment requirements. Most borrowers only put down 10% to 15%, which is much lower than the typical standard of 20% or more. And these loans can be made to both new and existing businesses. SBA 504 loans are actually composed two loans: one from a bank and one from Certified Development Corporation. Because the CDC loan is 100% guaranteed by the SBA, the interest rates are competitive and fixed for the life of the loan. This provides a great hedge against the interest rate on the bank loan, which is normally variable. You’ll need to apply through your bank or another lender.

Summary

  • 4% - 5% interest rates
  • Terms up to 20 years
  • Stricter eligibility requirements
  • Loan amounts may be up to $10 million
  • Funds in a few weeks

SBA Microloans

The SBA offers an excellent microloan program through a network of intermediary lenders across the country, and the program is specifically designed for startups and underserved businesses, including businesses owned by women. The average loan size is $13,000 and interest rates typically range from 8% to 13%. These microloans are also very flexible as you can use them for working capital, supplies, inventories or equipment needs. You can see a list of SBA microlenders in your state on the SBA’s website. Many will also offer online applications, but funding may still take several weeks to complete. Eligibility requirements will differ by lender, but your business’s balance sheet and amount of collateral will not be a significant consideration in the application process.

Summary

  • 8% - 13% interest rates
  • Terms up to 6 years
  • Eligibility requirements differ by lender
  • Loans up to $50,000
  • Funding times vary

Best Small Business Startup Loans for Women

While it is harder to secure funding as a new business, there are still a lot of options available to women starting businesses. And even if you don’t have a great personal credit score, you can still get funds.

SBA Community Advantage Loans

Community Advantage loans are a fantastic option for startup financing for qualified entrepreneurs. This is a special type of 7(a) loan designed for underserved (i.e., businesses in low-income or rural communities) or new businesses. Through this program, you can borrow up to $250,000 to use for a variety of business purposes. And because the loan is guaranteed by the SBA, interest rates remain affordable (the maximum rate a lender can charge is 9.75%). Another bonus of this loan program is that it offers a streamlined application process—you only have to complete a two-page application and most loans are approved within five to 10 days.

Summary

  • 9.75% interest rates (may be lower)
  • Terms up to 25 years
  • Stricter eligibility requirements
  • Loans up to $250,000
  • Funds in a couple of weeks

Kiva

Interest-free loans and no credit score minimums—these are some of the reasons Kiva is a great place to get a startup business loan. The organization also runs special crowdfunding campaigns for women on the site. You can borrow up to $10,000 through Kiva; though the average loan amount is closer to $6,500. Loan amounts are also based on the maturity of your business, with idea stage businesses receiving less money than operational, revenue-generating companies. Because Kiva is a marketplace lender, you’ll need to write a convincing pitch to get investors to contribute to your project. However, the funding success rate on Kiva is 90%. To qualify, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old, own a small business in the U.S., have a verified PayPal account and not be in bankruptcy. You’ll also be required to make a $25 loan to another entrepreneur on the site.

Summary

  • 0% interest rate
  • Terms up to 3 years
  • Lenient eligibility requirements
  • Loans up to $10,000
  • Funds in six weeks

Summary of Best Small Business Loans for Women

For quick comparison of your financing options as a female entrepreneur, we’ve detailed the best loans in the table below.

Best For...Lenders/Loan ProgramsRates
Women entrepreneurs with lower credit scores
  • Credibly
  • PayPal Working Capital
  • 9.99% - 36%
  • 15% - 30%
Government small business loans
  • SBA 7(a) loan
  • SBA microloan
  • SBA 504 loan
  • 6.0% - 8.5%
  • 8.00% - 13.0%
  • 4.5% - 4.7%
Startup loans for female entrepreneurs
  • SBA Community Advantage loan
  • Kiva
  • 9.7%
  • 0.0%

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