How should female entrepreneurs finance their businesses?
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UPDATED: May 20, 2013
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There are a number of government and independent organizations devoted to assisting female entrepreneurs with funding new businesses. Women should also look into start-up incubators, venture capitalists, angel investors, crowdfunding and, of course, applying for traditional business loans.
The largest government organization geared towards helping women-owned businesses obtain funding is the Small Business Association’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership. The WBO operates the SBA’s Women’s Business Centers, which offer counseling and training for female entrepreneurs. Female entrepreneurs are also eligible for business loans backed by the SBA, as well as a program that supports female entrepreneurs selling goods and services to the federal government.
The Minority Business Development Agency also assists female and minority entrepreneurs with business financing, gaining access to new contracts and the technical aspects of starting a business.
Female entrepreneurs should also look into loan programs run by private organizations and banks. KeyBank, for example, has loaned over six billion dollars to female entrepreneurs since 2005. ACCION specializes in lending micro loans under $100,000 and since 1991 the company has lent over $132 million.
Experts have suggested that crowdfunding is a viable option for women, as well as minorities, who have trouble accessing capital. According to a recent article by the Washington Post, female and minority entrepreneurs are less likely to have the same level of starting capital or wealthy contacts as white male entrepreneurs. Crowdfunding levels the playing field by drawing on small donations from communities.
Startup incubators, venture capitalists, and angel investors
Startup incubators are programs that help entrepreneurs develop a business from concept to reality. Incubators invest time, resources, and, most importantly, money, into new and innovative businesses.
There are several incubators across the country geared towards funding women-run businesses, including the WESST Enterprise Center in Albuquerque, N.M., Mi Kitchen es su Kitchen in New York City, and the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.
For entrepreneurs with great business strategies, incubator programs often lead to attention and investments from wealthy venture capitalists and angel investors.