35 Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

Quick Answer

Women entrepreneurs can benefit from a bevy of resources to help them launch and grow their businesses. Start by checking out small business grants and loans, educational resources and mentoring opportunities for women.

A group of 3 smiling female entrepreneurs in an office

Women account for about 20% of business owners, according to U.S. Census data. But that number may be rising: In 2021, women started nearly half of all businesses in the U.S. Getting started—or getting to the next level—as a woman entrepreneur means taking advantage of all the resources available to you for financing, education, mentorship and more.

Financial Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

Getting financing remains a challenge for women business owners. Fewer than half believe they have equal access to capital, according to a Bank of America survey. Here are some places to start.

Small Business Grants for Women

Unlike loans, small business grants do not have to be repaid. They're typically designated for women who meet very specific criteria or whose businesses help to achieve a goal of the granting organization. You can find grants from federal, state and local governments; community groups or nonprofits; and for-profit companies.

Though there's stiff competition for grants, there are lots of them out there, so it's worth doing some sleuthing to find one you may qualify for. Here are some places to look.

  • Grants.gov is a database of government grants. Although it's not specific to women, it's a good starting point.
  • iFundWomen allows you to apply for multiple grants with one application.
  • GrantsForWomen.org lists a variety of grants for women.
  • WomensNet gives out $450,000 in grants per year, including several $10,000 grants per month and two $25,000 grants annually.
  • The Cartier Women's Initiative Awards gives three businesses grants of $30,000, $60,000 or $100,000, as well as offering education, coaching and networking.
  • The Tory Burch Fellows program gives 50 women per year a $5,000 grant and access to 0% interest loans, plus coaching, education and networking opportunities.
  • The SoGal Foundation gives several $10,000 and $5,000 grants to Black women or nonbinary entrepreneurs.
  • Visa's She's Next Grant Program gives 60 Black women entrepreneurs in six U.S. cities a $10,000 grant and one year of coaching. The She's Next in Fashion grant provides 50 Black women fashion and beauty entrepreneurs $10,000, one year of coaching and partnerships with social media influencers.

Other resources that may have information about grants for women include:

Small Business Loans for Women

Small business loans aren't exclusive to women, of course, and are typically designed for existing businesses rather than startups. One exception is the Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloan Program, which makes loans of up to $50,000 through nonprofit community organizations.

If you're already in business, larger SBA loans are another alternative. The SBA guarantees small business loans up to $5.5 million made through approved lenders. While each lender has its own criteria, in general you'll have to meet size standards and have exhausted other funding options to qualify. Use the SBA Lender Match tool to find an approved lender near you.

Traditional bank loans aren't your only option. Online lenders and lending platforms offer a wide range of loans for small businesses, usually with more lenient criteria than banks. You can typically apply online in minutes and get your money in a matter of hours. In exchange, expect higher interest rates than you'd find at a bank. Investigate these online lenders and platforms.

  • Biz2Credit provides working capital loans, term loans and commercial real estate loans.
  • CAN Capital offers working capital and equipment loans up to $250,000.
  • Fundera by Nerdwallet lets you apply for SBA loans, term loans, equipment financing loans, business lines of credit and more from a variety of lenders.
  • Funding Circle provides SBA loans, term loans and business lines of credit.
  • Lendio offers business lines of credit, SBA loans, term loans and other loans up to $5 million.
  • OnDeck offers business lines of credit and term loans up to $250,000.
  • If you're looking for a business line of credit rather than a loan, check out Bluevine and Fundbox.

Educational Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

There's always something new to learn when you run your own business. Community colleges often offer classes in entrepreneurship and various aspects of business ownership, such as marketing or accounting. Other entrepreneurship education programs include:

  • Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Online offers 10 free online courses covering all aspects of business ownership. Take any or all of the courses, which include interactive components. After finishing all 10, you can join the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women alumni community, a global network offering further education and training opportunities.
  • Ascent is the SBA's free online learning platform developed by experts in women's entrepreneurship. It covers topics including marketing, hiring, finance and access to capital.
  • The Bank of America Institute for Women's Entrepreneurship at Cornell consists of six free, two-week online courses that take you through all stages of business ownership, from assessing your readiness and creating a business model to marketing, obtaining financing and improving your leadership skills.
  • DreamBuilder, created by business experts at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, offers two free online courses. A 13-course program helps you develop a business plan to start or grow your business; a financing course helps you find capital.
  • The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce offers online and in-person educational programs, primarily focused on obtaining government contracts.
  • Sponsored by the SBA, Women's Business Centers (WBCs) across the country provide training in all aspects of starting and running a business, and help finding capital.

Mentorship and Networking Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

Whether it's sharing ideas via networking or formal mentoring, learning from other women entrepreneurs can help your business grow. Start by searching Facebook and Meetup for local women business owners' organizations. Then check out these national resources:

The following programs aren't limited to women, but offer valuable mentoring services.

  • SCORE Mentors offers personalized mentoring through all stages of business from experienced entrepreneurs in your area. You can search a database of local mentors to find one whose expertise meets your needs and meet as often as you like.
  • SBDCs, often located on college campuses, provide entrepreneurs from startup to growth with free business consulting, plus educational and networking opportunities.

The Bottom Line

When you apply for a small business loan, lenders sometimes consider your personal credit as well as your business credit score. Review your credit report and credit score before you start your loan search, as well as your business credit report. Confirming that your credit reports are up to date, and working to improve your credit score if needed, can improve your odds of getting the right loan for you at the best possible terms.