It’s National Women’s Small Business Month, and as I take time to consider the status of women business owners and their access to capital, I can’t help but think how much has changed since my last article on the topic.
A little over a year ago, in August 2019, my headline was “Why Fewer Women Are Applying for Business Loans – And What to Do About It.” I focused on a couple of trends that researchers were seeing when it came to women and lending. That included women being more likely to rely on personal sources of income rather than loans, a reluctance to ask for funding, and an ongoing financial literacy gap.
Just one year later, I’ve worked with many more women business owners during a particularly busy time for SBA 504 loan product. And I’m seeing some critical advancements. There is undoubtedly a greater thirst for knowledge and increased savviness. The women I’m working with are asking far more questions about the loan process and how their business plans fit into it. They’re also taking a more methodical approach to the loan process and their businesses as a whole. All while demonstrating an impressive resilience and ability to pivot their businesses during unprecedented times.
We still have a long way to go when it comes to closing the gap on business financing. Data on which loan products women prefer — and the types of business growth projects they’re pursuing – is particularly valuable information that is necessary to developing solutions.
Equally as important is the work to be done on making lending accessible to minority-owned businesses. According to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau last spring, 1 million employer firms are owned by minorities – almost the same amount as those owned by women. Frequently, minority and women business owners are grouped together when it comes to research on access to capital and growth in small business ownership.
What I am seeing, anecdotally within my own SBA lending circles, is a renewed spirit to support entrepreneurs from a wider array of backgrounds and experiences. These are individual, case-by-case scenarios, so it may sound a little too “grass roots” for some. But doesn’t real change start with “boots on the ground”? By working one-on-one with diverse populations to achieve success, we are improving the lending environment as a whole.
For more on the women-owned businesses that Seedcopa + SeedcoDE has worked with, check out:
- Sherry Russell, CEO of Alderfer Auction in Hatfield, PA
- Emily Kellett, Co-Owner of STUMP
- Carolyn & Alyssa O’Leary, Co-Owners, Pocono Palms