March 1, 2023 By Suzanne Robertson

There’s no denying that obtaining low-cost financing is a successful way to boost small business growth. In fact, research has shown that receiving a loan increases the chances of job creation within small business by 302 percent¹. And yet, while women-owned firms make up an integral part of the US economy, at 36% of privately held businesses², they face several challenges to achieving their full potential through such an important source of capital.

At SmartBiz, we strive to provide easy access to low-cost funding and help women entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. We’re proud that more than 30% of the 7(a) SBA loans we’ve facilitated were granted to women-owned businesses, a number significantly higher than the national average of 14% for SBA lenders.

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Facts about US Women Owned Business

Over the last several years, women owned firms have been growing faster than their counterparts. The statistics are impressive³:

  • More than 9.5 million businesses are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.5 trillion in sales.
  • Women-owned firms account for 36% of all privately held firms and contribute 14% of employment and 12% of revenues.
  • 2.9 million firms are majority-owned by women of color.
    • These firms employ 1.4 million people and generate $226 billion in revenues annually.
  • 1 in 5 firms with a revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.

The highest number of women-owned businesses is found in California, at 1.3 million firms, followed by Texas at 867K, Florida at 808K, New York at 726K, and Illinois at 418K4.

With such a significant impact on the US economy, it’s sad that women-owned businesses have reported not expanding and opting for personal forms of financing rather than seeking out funding through loans and grants. Women entrepreneurs account for only 16% of conventional small business loans and 14% of 7 (a) SBA loans, and they are only half as likely as men to obtain business loans from banks.

Top challenges faced by women business owners seeking funding

Some of the most significant factors that prevent women-owned businesses from obtaining secure financing are not only lower approval rates, but a feeling of discouragement from the expectation that they will be turned down. Several studies have shown that these unfortunate disparities are still prevalent. On average, women-owned firms have had loan approval rates that are 15 to 20 percent lower than those of their male counterparts. Data has also shown that over time, women-owned businesses are less likely to have business credit.

And even when they do have a strong chance of approval, some women have reported not applying for a loan because of the anticipation of rejection. These overall findings can be discouraging, but we’re proud to provide increased access to capital for women entrepreneurs, so that they can continue accomplish their business goals.

SmartBiz SBA Loans for Women

At SmartBiz Loans, we believe every small business should have easy access to low-cost capital like SBA loans. With longer repayment terms and lower rates, SBA-backed loans offer excellent value when you need funding to grow your small business.

We’re excited to share some of the most inspiring business stories from recent customers who are scaling their businesses against the odds.


Co-owner of Sugar Twist Bakery, Ariya Burana, secured an SBA loan through SmartBiz to grow her business. In addition to managing the business, she also works full-time as a software developer.


Done & Done Home is a professional decluttering business, run by mother/daughter team Katharine Pawlowski and Ann Lightfoot. Since launching in 2012, the business has expanded into more urban areas thanks to a working capital SBA loan from SmartBiz.


Laura Tabsharani is the founder of Epic Global Talent, an entertainment and marketing company. She worked with SmartBiz Loans to obtain funding for a website revamp and publicity.

Check out more of the hard-working business owners that we support on our SmartBiz Small Business Blog!

Funding Options and Resources for Women-Owned Businesses

In addition to loans, there are other secure sources of capital that business owners can consider. For example, grants for women entrepreneurs vary from federal to state and local to private sources. At the federal level, they are usually specific to a certain purpose rather than applicable to the daily operations of a business. Before applying, make sure to do ample research on the allocation of funds that the grant is designed for.

The Small Business Administration advocates for women entrepreneurs through their Office of Women’s Business Ownership. Learn more about the resources it provides for underserved communities on their website. The SBA also sponsors over 100 educational centers across the country, where women entrepreneurs can receive training and counseling. Check out all the active Women’s Business Centers here.

Visit our blog to learn more useful tips when it comes to running a small business, from financing to employee management to marketing, and see if you pre-qualify for an SBA loan on our website.

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¹Josh Silver, Small Business Loan Data: Recommendations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for Implementing Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

²National Women’s Business Council, Women-Owned Businesses Fact Sheet

³National Association of Women Business Owners, Women Business Owner Statistics

4NWBC, Women-Owned Businesses Fact Sheet