SBA Loans for Women (Everything You Need to Know)


holly johnson

By Holly Johnson

Last updated 4/22/2020


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Summary: SBA loans for women can make getting the funding you need a breeze. This guide explains all your loan options and how they stack up. 

Women-owned businesses are on the rise, and it’s easy to see why.

Women make excellent leaders, and increased educational opportunities for women are only fueling their ambitions. 

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) notes that 11.6 million women-owned firms employed more than 9 million people nationwide at last count.

Further, one in five firms with revenue of $1 million dollars or more are women-owned, and 5.4 million firms were at least partly owned by women of color in 2017. 


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Of course, women owned businesses need funding to grow and to continue increasing their revenue.

Fortunately, there are numerous small business loans for women available, including loans facilitated through the Small Business Administration (SBA). 

Note: Currently, business owners struggling with income loss related to COVID-19 can apply for small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

These loans are available to any business that meets the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) size requirements, and all or part of the loans may be forgiven.

You can read about this program via the U.S. Small Business Administration website

small business loans for women

The Best SBA Loans for Women in 2020

Women-owned companies should take note of all the funding opportunities available to them, many of which feature low rates and fair fees. If you’re in search of a small business loan for a company led by women, you’re definitely in the right place.

But first, we have some advice!

Before you do anything else, you should also take time to get certified as a woman-owned business through the 8(a) Business Development program offered through the SBA. 

According to a U.S. Bank study, a whopping 82% of businesses that failed cited cash flow problems as a factor in their failure.

This program limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate, meaning you may be able to get more business if you qualify. 

To qualify for the 8(a) Business Development program, you must:

  • Be a small business as defined by the SBA
  • Not be involved in the program already
  • Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged, including women
  • Be owned by someone with a net worth of $250,000 or less
  • Be owned by someone with an average adjustable gross income of $250,000 or less
  • Be owned by someone with $4 million in assets or less
  • The owner must make day-to-day decisions for the ecompany
  • You must show the potential for success

Beyond becoming certified for this program in order to shore up contracts that guarantee more ongoing work, there are an array of SBA loans for women to consider. 

Here are your top options:


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SBA 7(a) Loan

The SBA 7(a) loan program is the most popular program the SBA offers small businesses and entrepreneurs, but you don’t actually have to be a woman to take advantage.

Quick Tip for Start-Ups:

Personal loans are a great way to fund a new business if you can't qualify for a business loan or 0% credit cards.  For personal loans up to $35,000, visit our #1 recommended personal lender.

Either way, business owners can borrow up to $5 million with this program, and the SBA will guarantee up to 85% of loans up to $150,000 and 75% of loans in amounts greater than $150,000. 

The SBA partners with a variety of lenders to offer SBA 7(a) loans, and your interest rate and loan terms will vary depending on the lender you work with.

However, interest rates are capped at SBA loan maximums, which vary based on the prime rate.

SBA Express Loan

The SBA offers an “express” version of the SBA 7(a) loan that is meant for business owners, including women business owners, who need access to quick funding.

This program promises to look at your application in a short length of time, and you should hear back on your loan application within 36 hours of submitting your application. 

How Much Do Startups Need?

According to the Wells Fargo Small Business Index, $10,000 is the average amount of startup capital required by a small business owner.  

Other details to note:

  • SBA Express Loans are only good in amounts up to $350,000
  • The SBA only guarantees 50% of the loan

Like standard SBA 7(a) loans, SBA Express Loans are facilitated through partner lenders that work with the SBA.

Export Express

This loan is a good option for small businesses who need access to working capital in a hurry without having to pay exorbitant interest rates or fees.

However, you should note that this loan is geared to small businesses that focus on exporting products. 

Some details you should know:

  • Qualify for streamlined financing up to $500,000
  • SBA guarantees 90% of loans of $350,000 or less and 75% of loans over that amount
  • The SBA will respond to your application within 24 hours
  • Available to small businesses who have been in operation for at least 12 months


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Other Details to Know About SBA Loans for Women

These are a few of the most popular SBA loans for women, but there are other options from the SBA that may work better in very specific situations. 

With that in mind, there are some additional details you should know about small business loans for females offered through the SBA:

  • You may be required to put collateral down for loans over $25,000. One common type of collateral is real estate, but the SBA notes that you should expect to have some collateral or “skin in the game” in order to facilitate the loan process.

  • You’ll need to offer a personal guarantee for the SBA loan you’re applying for. This means that, if your business ultimately fails, you’ll be personally liable for repayment of your small business loan up to certain limits. 

  • You won’t get your loan from the SBA itself. As we mentioned already, the SBA doesn’t typically fund loans and loan programs. Instead, you’ll work with a lender in their network that understands and facilitates SBA loans on a regular basis.

  • While lending decisions on SBA loans are ultimately made by lenders, you’ll improve your chances of getting the funding you need if you focus on improving your credit score

Business Loan Funding Equals Opportunity

Seeking a Loan for a Woman Owned Business? Consider Additional Options

Women-owned businesses shouldn’t limit themselves to SBA loans when it comes to funding.

In some cases, it’s possible alternative loan options would work out better in the end. 

For example:

  • You could consider small business loans offered through banks and credit unions, some of which offer low rates and fair terms for qualified applicants with good credit. If you have an existing relationship with a bank, you may even have a leg up when it comes to qualifying for the funding you need.

  • Compare loan options from a lending platform like LendingTree.com. This way, you can fill out some basic information and compare multiple small business loan options in one place. 

  • Check out online small business lenders like Kabbage, ondeck, and BlueVine, all of which let you borrow money to cover payroll and expenses and keep your business running for the long haul. Online business lenders make the application process easy, and they may offer fair rates and terms depending on your credit score and other factors.

Qualifying for Business Loans:


Most business lenders require 1-2 years in business and $50,000 or more in annual revenue to qualify for a business loan.  Don't qualify yet?  See our top personal loan companies.

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SBA Loans Require A Separate Business Checking Account

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The Bottom Line

SBA loans can be a godsend for women led businesses that need funding to grow and thrive, and they’re not that difficult to qualify for.

The SBA even has a lender match tool that can help small business owners connect with lenders in their area that can successfully facilitate their loan products. 

Before you apply for a small business loan, make sure to compare all your options from various types of lenders.​

The best loan for you is one that comes with affordable fees and interest rates with a monthly payment your business can afford.

By comparing lenders in terms of this criteria, you’re bound to wind up with funding you need to prosper for the long haul. 


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Get your no-obligation quote to see how much capital you could access.  Up to $250,000 in working capital in 24 hours.

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