She works hard for the money...
October 10, 2009 10:05 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine wants to open a business, and is looking for information on business loans or grants specifically for women.

I've been on the SBA and SCORE websites, but haven't been able to find too much info. Everyone always says that there's a lot of financial assistance for women looking to open businesses, but I'm having trouble finding it!

If it helps: I believe she is looking to open a dog grooming/training facility.

Specifics would be awesome, but general links would be alright as well.
posted by firei to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"... Everyone always says that there's a lot of financial assistance for women looking to open businesses, but I'm having trouble finding it! ..."

Eh, not so much. As says:
"... Federal and state government agencies do not provide grants to women to help them start a business. Grants may be available from non-profits and private organizations, however, these are very rare and usually focus on helping minority women and women in economically disadvantaged communities. However, there are a limited number of loans available to specifically to help women start and expand their businesses. ..."
But they do go on, at that link, to give a very short list of state agencies offering help to women entrepeneurs, some of it in the form of grants and loan guarantees, or loans. In the main, however, your friend would be probably be better off to forget the woman ownership angle, and look for small business loans and loan guarantee programs, which are a lot more plentiful than grant opportunities. Loan programs will generally require that she have some equity of her own, so if she has no cash or collateral, and is seeking first dollar funding, then that is going to require a much wider search for grant money, which she can use as equity, particularly if she doesn't have a successful past history of small business ownership.
posted by paulsc at 10:55 AM on October 10, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks paulsc - I sent along the info and the link. I appreciate it! :)
posted by firei at 3:43 PM on October 10, 2009

Well, the SBA does have its Office for Women Ownership and Women's Business Centers [pdf] around the country. Those are specific places to start.

One of the most direct ways that the government does support women-owned businesses is through the minority set-aside requirement for government contracts. I believe that this used to be a set requirement (like 10%) but has been weakened in part due to abuse (e.g. a contractor's wife starting a shell company to hire him). Still, it's a way to get a foot in the door, though probably not of use for dog grooming.

She should probably start assembling resources such as WomenEntrepreneur and the like. I believe one of the most important things she could do now, before actually starting, is networking. Connect to SCORE and see if she can't hook up with a mentor, if possible a woman, who's been there before.
posted by dhartung at 9:45 PM on October 10, 2009

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