10 Best Small-Business Loans for Women in 2020

Female business owners get rejected for loans at higher rates than their male counterparts.1 These loans could change that.
Best overall
Lendio
Lendio
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Variety of lenders and loans
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Fast, easy application
Best for larger loans
BlueVine
BlueVine
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Loans up to $5 million
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Relaxed borrower qualifications
Best for low credit
Fundbox
Fundbox
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Low minimum credit score
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Automated application
Most convenient
Kabbage
Kabbage
3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Automated approval process
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Fast funding
Best for P2P lending
Funding Circle
Funding Circle
2.9 out of 5 stars
2.9
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Low starting rates
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Transparent costs

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 woman-owned business

Compare the top small-business loan providers

Company

Lendio

BlueVine

Fundbox

Kabbage

Funding Circle

Kiva

Accion

OnDeck

StreetShares

CanCapital

Loan min./max.

$500/$5,000,000

$5,000/$5 million

$1,000/$100,000

$2,000/$250,000

$25,000/$500,000

$0/$10,000

$300/$250,000

$5,000/$500,000

$2,000/$250,000

$2,500/$250,000

Lowest listed rate

4%

4.8%

4.66% draw rate

1.5 factor rate

4.99%

0%

7%

9.99%

7%

12.9%

Min. annual revenue

$50,000

$100,000

$50,000

$50,000

N/A

N/A

N/A

$100,000

$25,000

$150,000

Min. time in business

6 mos.

3 mos.

3 mos.

1 yr.

2 yrs.

N/A

N/A

1 yr.

1 yr.

6 mos.

Get a loan
Company
Loan min./max.
Lowest listed rate
Min. annual revenue
Min. time in business
Get a loan

Lendio

$500/$5,000,000

4%

$50,000

6 mos.

BlueVine

$5,000/$5 million

4.8%

$100,000

3 mos.

Fundbox

$1,000/$100,000

4.66% draw rate

$50,000

3 mos.

Kabbage

$2,000/$250,000

1.5 factor rate

$50,000

1 yr.

Funding Circle

$25,000/$500,000

4.99%

N/A

2 yrs.

Kiva

$0/$10,000

0%

N/A

N/A

Accion

$300/$250,000

7%

N/A

N/A

OnDeck

$5,000/$500,000

9.99%

$100,000

1 yr.

StreetShares

$2,000/$250,000

7%

$25,000

1 yr.

CanCapital

$2,500/$250,000

12.9%

$150,000

6 mos.

Data effective 01/29/20. 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

With Lendio’s lending marketplace, women entrepreneurs can get matched with a wide variety of lenders and loans—making it the best option for most women-owned businesses.

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 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.

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

BlueVine: Best for larger cash flow loans

BlueVine

BlueVine offers large funding amounts—up to millions of dollars—with reasonable application requirements that many women-owned businesses can meet.

While BlueVine doesn’t have quite the loan variety of Lendio, it does offer term loans, 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 financing options make 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 loans. 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 large loans are good for many businesses—women owned or not.

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

Fundbox: Best for low credit

Fundbox

Fundbox requires only a 500 personal credit score, so women entrepreneurs with low credit scores can qualify for its cash flow loans.

Worried about getting funding with your bad credit? No need. Some traditional lenders require higher personal credit scores from their borrowers. Not Fundbox! It just requires a low personal credit score of at least 500. Then it looks at your business’s current finances to assess your application. You can connect it to either your accounting software or your business bank account to qualify for a line of credit.

Fundbox’s automated process and low 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, bad credit isn’t a problem.

So if you need capital, but you don’t want a credit check to get in the way, go with Fundbox.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Automated application
Pro Bullet Low approval requirements
Pro Bullet Fast funding
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Low maximum loan amounts
Con Bullet High APR

Kabbage: Most convenient

Kabbage

Kabbage uses an automated approval process, so female entrepreneurs can get approved for a loan—and get access to their funds—in mere minutes.

You can’t top the convenience of Kabbage’s automated application and approval process. Just give Kabbage a little information about you, then connect it with your business accounting software. In most cases, you’ll get a decision within minutes. For added convenience, Kabbage gives you three ways to access your new funds (PayPal, deposit in your bank account, and a Kabbage card), so you can use them in a way that makes sense with your business.

Kabbage’s automated process means you can be sure that your loan application is judged on your business’s strengths—not the personal biases of an underwriter. Plus, Kabbage has a proven commitment to women entrepreneurs: for example, it has a page full of resources for women-owned businesses.

No wonder Kabbage is one of our favorite online lenders for women business owners.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Multiple ways to access funding
Pro Bullet Fast, automated approval process
Pro Bullet No credit requirement
Weaknesses
Con Bullet High rates and APR
Con Bullet Confusing fee structure

Funding Circle: Best for peer-to-peer lending

Funding Circle

Funding Circle offers low rates on its term loans, making it an affordable choice for established businesses.

Funding Circle is our favorite peer-to-peer lender (which you can learn more about in our guide to P2P lending). But what does that mean for you? Put simply, nice low rates and longer terms. Funding Circle offers only term loans, but the interest rates on those loans start as low as 4.99%, and the repayment terms go up to five years (long-term loans are a rarity among online lenders).

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 peer-to-peer lender 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 P2P lender.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Up-front cost and fee information
Pro Bullet Low starting rates
Pro Bullet Excellent customer service
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Exclusive borrower preferences
Con Bullet Secured loans only
Don't qualify for a business loan? Get a personal loan instead.

Honorable mentions

Kiva: Best for microloans

Maybe you don’t need large, long-term loans. If a microloan of $10,000 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.

Accion: Best for startup loans

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

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

OnDeck: Best for repeat borrowing

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 its loans, repeat borrowers get sweet discounts on both interest rates and fees.

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

StreetShares: Best balance of requirements and rates

StreetShares doesn’t have the loosest requirements or the lowest rates, but it does have an unusually good balance between the two. On the requirement side, StreetShares asks for a fair credit score (think 625), just one year in business, and only $25,000 in revenue. But on the rate side, it offers rates as low as 7%. Neither the rates nor the requirements are unusual—but seeing them from the same lender is.

Sure, meeting the minimum requirements might not get you the best rates from StreetShares—but this balanced lender is worth your attention.

CanCapital: Best for merchant cash advances

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, CanCapital is the best MCA provider out there.

FAQs

Are there business loans specifically for women?

Nope, that would be illegal. The Equal Credit Opportunity makes it illegal to discriminate based on things like race, age, and sex (or gender).3

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 other funding options are there for women-owned businesses?

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:

Grants for women small-business owners

Organization
Grant amount
Open to
Get started

Amber Grant

$2,000–$25,000

Women entrepreneurs

Asian Women Giving Circle

Up to $15,000

Arts and culture organizations led by Asian American women

Boston Women’s Fund

$10,000/yr. for 5 yrs.

Women-led organizations supporting social and economic justice

Cartier Women’s Initiative

$30,000–$100,000

For-profit, early stage businesses led by women

Eileen Fisher

$10,000–$40,000

Women-led organizations with a focus on environmental and intersectional justice

Girlboss Foundation

Up to $15,000

Women entrepreneurs in design, fashion, music, and arts industries

Tony Burch Foundation

$5,000

Female business owners earning at least $75,000 in annual revenue

Data effective 01/29/20. At publishing time, amounts and descriptions are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

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.

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

Good question. Lenders haven’t actually come out and explained the disparity, 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.2 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.4

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%

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).

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.

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 October 5, 2020. 
  2. Biz2Credit, “Annual Revenues, Profits, and Credit Scores of Women-Owned Businesses Improved in 2015, According to Biz2Credit Study” February 2016. Accessed October 5, 2020. 
  3. CFPB, “What Protections Do I Have against Credit Discrimination?” Accessed October 5, 2020. 
  4. Corp! Magazine, “In Spite of Gender Bias, Women in Business See through Glass Ceiling,” October 2018. Accessed October 5, 2020.
  5. U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, “21st Century Barriers to Women’s Entrepreneurship,” July 2014. Accessed October 5, 2020.