10 Best Small-Business Loans for Women in 2021

Female business owners get rejected for loans at higher rates than their male counterparts.1 These loans could change that.
Best overall
Lendio
Lendio
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
Starting at
4.25% interest
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    560 min. credit score
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Term loans, LOCs, & more
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Lending marketplace
Best cash flow loans
BlueVine
BlueVine
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Starting at
4.8% interest
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    530 min. credit score
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Lines of credit and invoice financing
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Direct lender
Most flexible requirements
Fundbox
Fundbox
3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1
Starting at
4.66% draw fee
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    600 min. credit score
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Lines of credit only
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Direct lender
Best for repeat borrowing
OnDeck
OnDeck
3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1
Starting at
4.66% draw fee
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    600 min. credit score
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Term loans & lines of credit
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Direct lender
Best for established
Funding Circle
Funding Circle
3 out of 5 stars
3.0
Starting at
4.99% interest
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    660 min. credit score
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Term loans, LOCs, & more
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Lending marketplace

Funding your business sounds simple: just apply for a loan and get that capital. But if you’re a woman business owner, you might have a harder time getting money than you expect.

That’s why we’re here. We’ve vetted dozens of lenders to find the best small-business loans for women. Sure, this guide won’t fix the gender disparity in lending—but it might help level the playing field for your woman-owned business.

Let’s fund your biz!

Info
Business loans for women

To be clear, there are no business loans just for female entrepreneurs—that would be illegal (more on that in the FAQs below). But some lenders and loans will work better for women-owned businesses than others. We’ll be sure to point out why in our ranking.

Best small-business loans for your women

Compare the best small-business loans for women

Lender
Financing offered
Loan min./max
Lowest listed rate
Get a loan
Lendio

Lendio

Term loans, LOCs, equipment financing, commercial mortgage, & more

$1,000/$5,000,000

4.25% interest
BlueVine

BlueVine

Invoice financing & lines of credit

$5,000/$5 million

4.8% interest

Fundbox

Fundbox

Lines of credit

$1,000/$150,000

4.66% draw fee

OnDeck

OnDeck

Lines of credit & term loans

$5,000/$250,000

31% APR

Funding Circle

Funding Circle

Lines of credit, SBA loans, term loans, & more

$5,000/$500,000

4.99% interest

Data effective 8/4/21. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Lendio: Best overall

Lendio
Lendio
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at 4.25% interest

  • 560 min. credit score
  • $50,000 min. annual revenue
  • 6 mos. min. time in business

Lendio isn’t just our favorite lender for women-owned businesses—it’s our favorite lender, period. That’s because Lendio is actually a lending marketplace. You have to submit only one brief application to Lendio, and it will match you with loans and lenders that you can qualify for. Then, you just choose your favorite financing option, and Lendio will help you finish your loan application and get approved.

With the sheer number of small-business loans and lenders available through Lendio, you’re sure to find the right financing for your business. In fact, Lendio can match you with several of the other lenders on this list.

So yes, you have to meet some basic qualifications (see the comparison table above), but Lendio can work for all sorts of women business owners. We think it will be your favorite lender too.

Pros
Pro Bullet Fast application
Pro Bullet Wide variety of funding and lenders
Pro Bullet Personalized guidance and expertise
Cons
Con Bullet High interest rates on some loans
Con Bullet Reports of hard credit inquiries

BlueVine: Best for cash flow loans

BlueVine
BlueVine
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5

Starting at 4.8% interest

  • 530 min. credit score
  • $10,000 min. monthly revenue
  • 3 mos. min. time in business

While BlueVine doesn’t have quite the loan variety of Lendio, it does offer cash flow loans like lines of credit and invoice financing—which means it has capital options for many needs and uses. Plus, BlueVine’s invoice financing goes up to $5 million. Most online lenders don’t even have $1 million loans, so BlueVine’s large cash flow financing makes it stand out from the crowd. If you have a big project, BlueVine has a big loan to finance it.

But why do we recommend BlueVine specifically for women-owned businesses? Well, it has relatively low application requirements for its invoice financing. Since female entrepreneurs often have lower qualifications than male entrepreneurs, that matters. We also like that BlueVine has a small resource center for women’s business loans. 

And at the end of the day, BlueVine’s cash flow loans are good for many businesses—women owned or not.

Pros
Pro Bullet Simple, quick process
Pro Bullet Low credit score requirements
Pro Bullet Large loans available
Cons
Con Bullet Limited availability in some states
Con Bullet Potentially large fees

Fundbox: Most flexible borrower requirements

Fundbox
Fundbox
3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1

Starting at 4.66% draw fee

  • 600 min. credit score
  • $100,000 min. annual revenue
  • 6 mos. min. time in business

Most traditional lenders and many alternative lenders have very strict, inflexible borrower requirements. Not Fundbox! Yes, it has a list of typical requirements, but Fundbox is willing to flex on things like your time in business if you have an otherwise strong application. Fundbox mostly looks at your business’s current finances (via your accounting software or business bank account) to assess your application. And the requirements it does have are pretty low for a line of credit.

Fundbox’s automated process and flexible financing qualifications have made it one of our favorite startup loans, but it also makes it one of the best women-owned business loans. After all, some studies suggest that women entrepreneurs get denied business financing because of their lower credit scores.2 With Fundbox, less-than-perfect credit isn’t a problem. 

So if you need capital, but you don’t want one small factor to get in the way of your otherwise excellent application, go with Fundbox.

Pros
Pro Bullet Automated application
Pro Bullet Moderate approval requirements
Pro Bullet Fast funding
Cons
Con Bullet Low maximum loan amounts
Con Bullet High APR

OnDeck: Best for repeat borrowing

OnDeck
OnDeck
3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1

Starting at 31% APR

  • 600 min. credit score
  • $100,000 min. annual revenue
  • 1 yr. min. time in business

Small-business financing isn’t always a one-time thing. You might need funding for a marketing campaign now and for hiring next year. So if you suspect you’ll need more financing over the years, we recommend OnDeck. While first-time borrowers can expect relatively high rates on OnDeck loans, repeat borrowers get sweet discounts on both interest rates and fees. 

In fact, your continued relationship with OnDeck can earn you an origination fee of 0% (down from OnDeck’s standard 5% fee). And as an added perk, OnDeck may even waive the remaining interest on your old loan when you apply for a new loan with OnDeck. 

The more you borrow, the better your relationship with OnDeck gets.

Pros
Pro Bullet Discounted fees for repeat borrowers
Pro Bullet Waived interest for some repeat loans
Pro Bullet Moderate borrower requirements
Cons
Con Bullet High starting APR
Con Bullet High typical qualifications

Funding Circle: Best for established businesses

Funding Circle
Funding Circle
3 out of 5 stars
3.0

Starting at 4.99% interest

  • 660 min. credit score
  • $300,000 min. annual revenue
  • 2 yrs. min. time in business

Funding Circle is another lending marketplace (like Lendio) that specializes in helping more established businesses get financing. It has the highest borrower requirements of any lender on this list. But what does that mean for you? Put simply, good loan options and great rates. Funding Circle offers term loans, lines of credit, cash flow loans, and more―and interest rates start as low as 4.99%.

So if you’re a female business owner who can meet Funding Circle’s stricter borrowing criteria (a minimum of two years in business, for starters), this lending marketplace can offer you a great deal. And like several of our other recommended lenders, Funding Circle has resources for women’s business funding.

Between its commitment to female entrepreneurs and its great funding deals, we think you’ll love this marketplace lending company.

Pros
Pro Bullet Up-front cost and fee information
Pro Bullet Low starting rates
Pro Bullet Excellent customer service
Cons
Con Bullet Exclusive borrower preferences
Con Bullet Slower funding times
Don't qualify for a business loan? Get a personal loan instead.

Honorable mentions

Compare the best small-business loans for women

Lender
Financing offered
Loan min./max.
Lowest listed rate
Get a loan
Kiva

Kiva

Microloans

$0/$15,000

0% interest

Fundera

Fundera

Term loans, lines of credit, invoice financing, & more

$2,500/$5 million

4% interest

Accion

Accion Opportunity Fund

Term loans

$300/$250,000

7% interest

Kabbage

Kabbage

Lines of credit

$1,000/$150,000

0.25%/mo. fee

Lendr

Lendr

Merchant cash advances & invoice factoring

$5,000/$500,000

0.5% invoice fee

Data effective 7/26/21. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Kiva: Best for microloans

Kiva
Kiva
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at 0.00% interest

  • Similar to crowdfunding
  • Easier qualifications
  • Primarily for microloans

Maybe you don’t need large, long-term loans. If a microloan of $15,000 might fit your financing needs, give Kiva a look. Many women entrepreneurs have successfully funded businesses through Kiva and its interest-free microloans. It’s kind of a crowdfunding platform for loans, so your qualifications matter less than your story.

Just know that your friends will have to kick off your Kiva loan before strangers can invest.

Fundera: Another great marketplace

Fundera
Fundera
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at 4.00% interest

  • Loan marketplace
  • One simple application
  • Extra loan options than traditional lenders

Fundera is a lending marketplace, just like Lendio and Funding Circle. So like those two, it lets you compare loan offers after submitting one simple application. But Fundera works with some lenders that those companies don’t (and vice versa), so it can give you some additional options. It’s worth checking out, especially if you know it partners with a specific lender you’re interested in.

Simply put, Fundera’s marketplace provides a solid alternative to other lending marketplaces like Lendio and Funding Circle.

Accion Opportunity Fund: Best for startup loans

Accion
Accion Opportunity Fund
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at 7.00% interest

  • Merit-based application process
  • No minimum revenue or time in business requirements

Unlike traditional lenders (or most alternative lenders, for that matter), Accion Opportunity Fund wants to hear all about your unique story as a small-business owner. It has a long, involved application process that lets you really sell yourself. With no minimum revenue or time in business, Accion Opportunity Fund is great for startup loans. 

And since Accion Opportunity Fund has a commitment to helping disadvantaged groups get funding, it’s perfect for your women-owned business.

Kabbage: Longest line of credit terms

Kabbage
Kabbage
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at 0.25% monthly fee

  • Offers lines of credit
  • 18-month repayment terms

Like several of the lenders above (including BlueVine and Fundbox), Kabbage has business lines of credit. What sets it apart from other lenders, though, is the long maximum term on those credit lines. Kabbage offers repayment terms of up to 18 months―a full 6 months longer than you’ll see from most other online lenders.

So for business owners that want a little extra time to use and repay their credit lines, Kabbage offers a great option.

Lendr: Best for merchant cash advances

Lendr
Lendr
4 out of 5 stars
4.0

Starting at 0.50% invoice fee

  • Issues cash advances
  • Depends on future projected sales

Merchant cash advances (MCAs) work by giving you an up-front sum of working capital in exchange for a percentage of your future credit and debit card sales. That means it works best for businesses like retail stores and restaurants—types of businesses that women business owners open more than men.2 

And while we don’t love the high and confusing rates on MCAs, Lendr is the best MCA provider out there.

Grow your business today

Browse hundreds of loan options, custom-tailored to your business and budget needs, from a single, simple platform.

Best-paying metros for women in 2020

Did you know that while women own 30% of small companies, only 16% of conventional small-business loans are distributed to female business owners?5 And that only 4.4% of the total value of loans for all sources go to women? That means women get approved less often and get less funding than their male counterparts.

One reason for this disparity may be closely tied to the gender pay gap. Receiving less pay for equal work over the course of several years (or decades) makes a huge difference in a woman’s ability to save money for her business and build credit. And with less startup cash in hand, a woman may be considered a bigger risk for lenders compared to a man with more of his own resources at his disposal.

Consequently, it’s valuable for women to choose workplaces that set them up for success when it comes to equal pay. With that in mind, we did a little digging to see which US metros are the best (and worst) when it comes to women’s pay.

US map with ranking

Key findings

  • California, North Carolina, and Florida all had multiple metro areas in the top 10, indicating these are great states to start as a female entrepreneur.
  • Louisiana had three metro areas in the bottom 10—hardly surprising considering our recent study of the gender pay gap by state showed Louisiana had the highest overall gender pay gap nationwide.
  • Texas also had three metro areas in the bottom 10, which surprised us since the state overall is only 23rd in the country when it comes to gender pay disparity.

Rankings

Top 15 metros with the lowest women's pay gap

Rank
City, State
Male median salary
Female median salary
Female income as a % of male income
1Santa Fe, NM$47,233$45,63197%
2Jacksonville, NC$33,147$31,89096%
3Napa, CA$57,608$54,30094%
4Durham-Chapel Hill, NC$52,493$47,83591%
5Manhattan, KS$41,628$37,76691%
6Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL$43,729$39,49890%
7Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL$42,209$37,99390%
8Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$50,993$45,79190%
9Salinas, CA$45,684$40,98890%
10New Bern, NC$40,060$35,93090%
11Fresno, CA$44,953$40,24690%
12Ocala, FL $39,137$34,91089%
13Punta Gorda, FL$42,230$37,65489%
14Carson City, NV$43,886$39,00589%
15The Villages, FL $40,339$35,80089%

Bottom 15 metros with the highest women's pay gap

Rank
City, State
Median male salary
Female median salary
Female income as a % of male income
1Houma-Thibodaux, LA$59,033$34,56859%
2Provo-Orem, UT$58,166$36,56663%
3Enid, OK$50,127$31,80963%
4Lake Charles, LA$54,885$34,95964%
5Lafayette, LA$53,018$34,63265%
6Victoria, TX$53,703$35,13365%
7Odessa, TX$56,028$36,67565%
8Idaho Falls, ID$51,871$34,02266%
9Wheeling, WV-OH$51,319$33,93066%
10Midland, TX$64,894$43,07866%
11Hammond, LA$53,098$35,43367%
12Baton Rouge, LA$59,251$39,56767%
13California-Lexington Park, MD$78,237$52,55267%
14Monroe, LA$49,310$33,14667%
15Huntsville, AL$61,642$41,60467%

The takeaway

Getting working capital for women-owned companies can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Fortunately, there are lenders that offer plenty of options for female entrepreneurs. So go ahead: apply for that loan and get that money.

Women aren’t the only ones who can have a hard time getting funds. Check out our guide to the best loans for minority-owned businesses to find the best lenders for minority business owners.

Related content

Small-business loans for women FAQ

Why do women-owned businesses get denied loans at such high rates?

Good question. Lenders haven’t actually come out and explained why so many women get turned down for business loans, but we can make some educated guesses.

Studies show that women-owned businesses earn less revenue than men-owned businesses, and women business owners tend to have lower credit scores than men business owners.1 And since business revenue and personal credit scores are a big factor in loan applications, that might naturally lead to women getting denied business loans at higher rates.

But sometimes it might just be good old-fashioned sexism. A majority of women say they’ve experienced gender bias in their careers, and almost one-third of women business owners say it’s affected their financing.3

Are there business loans specifically for women?

Nope, loans specifically for women would be illegal. The Equal Credit Opportunity makes it illegal to discriminate based on things like race, age, and sex (or gender).4

On the one hand, that means that lenders can’t deny women credit just because they’re women. On the other hand, that means lenders can’t deny men credit just because they’re men. So no, there are no business loans exclusively for women.

What business grants exist for women entrepreneurs?

Loans are a common way to finance small businesses, but they’re just one of your many funding options. Here are some other ideas for funding your biz:

  • Personal savings
  • Personal loans
  • Investments from family and friends
  • Crowdfunding
  • Angel investors
  • Venture capital
  • Grants

What grants exist for women entrepreneurs?

These are some of the best grants we’ve found for women entrepreneurs:

To learn more about them, see our guide to business grants for women.

You can also check with your local Chamber of Commerce or other organizations for small-business owners. Lots of grants exist at a local level, and they may be less competitive than national grants.

Methodology

To find the top-paying metros for women, we ranked each based on female income as a percentage of male income. In order to accurately compare, we used the median income of only full-time, year-round workers in each respective area, as reported in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey (the most recent year for which data is available).

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources

  1. SCORE., “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship, Spring 2018,” April 2018. Accessed August 4, 2021.
  2. Biz2Credit, “Annual Revenues, Profits, and Credit Scores of Women-Owned Businesses Improved in 2015, According to Biz2Credit Study,” February 2016. Accessed August 4, 2021.
  3. Corp, “In Spite of Gender Bias, Women in Business See through Glass Ceiling,” October 2018. Accessed August 4, 2021.
  4. CFPB, “What Protections Do I Have against Credit Discrimination?.” Accessed August 4, 2021.
Chloe Goodshore
Written by
Chloe Goodshore
Chloe covers business financing and loans for Business.org. She has worked with many small businesses over the past 10 years, from video game stores to law firms. Those years watching frustrated business owners try to sift through their many options gave her a passion for breaking down complex business topics. She wants to help business owners spend less time agonizing over their businesses so they can spend more time running them.
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