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The best small-business loans for women

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If you’re a woman who owns a small business, your financing options are no longer limited to bank loans, SBA loans or small-business grants.

There are many choices for small-business loans for women and a host of online small-business lenders that have emerged since the financial crisis hit in 2008.

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We’ve rounded up several types of small-business loans for women. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that take into account your qualifications.

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For women business owners with poor credit

OnDeck and Kabbage: Online lenders shift the focus away from personal credit score.
OnDeck and Kabbage are two lenders that offer loans to women who have less-than-stellar personal finances. Kabbage, for instance, doesn’t just rely on personal credit scores; it approves lines of credits based more on accounting, banking and e-commerce data. The access to capital can be costly, though.

Do you qualify?
  • Personal credit score: No minimum required
  • Time in business: At least one year; the typical Kabbage borrower has been in business 2-5 years
  • Annual revenue: $60,000 minimum; the typical borrower earns $100,000 to $10 million

Kabbage doesn’t require a minimum credit score, and it doesn’t require that borrowers back their loans with personal guarantees. But you must have been in business at least a year, have annual revenue of $60,000 or more and have a business checking account or a PayPal account.

Kabbage’s LOAN terms
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $100,000
  • APR: 32% to 108%
  • Loan term: 6 months
  • Approval time: Same-day approval, with funding in minutes to a few days after approval

Another alternative for women entrepreneurs with poor credit is alternative lender OnDeck. Its minimum credit score for term loans is 500, although most of its borrowers are at 600 or above.

Do you qualify?
  • Personal credit score: Minimum 500+ for term loans; 600+ for lines of credit; the typical OnDeck borrower has a score over 600
  • Time in business: At least 1 year; median for OnDeck borrowers is 7 years
  • Annual revenue: $100,000 or more in the last year for term loans and $200,000 or more for lines of credit; median for OnDeck borrowers is $600,000

Applications can be completed within 10 minutes and you can be funded in as little as 24 hours. OnDeck has looser qualifications than banks, but its loans are pricier, and a lien and personal guarantee are required.

OnDeck’s loan terms
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $500,000
  • APR: 9% to 98%
  • Loan term: Repaid daily or weekly for 3 to 36 months
  • Approval time: Decisions within minutes; funding in as little as 24 hours

For women with better credit, an established business

SmartBiz and Lending Club: If you can qualify, these lenders offer lower APR. 
SmartBiz is a quicker route to SBA loans than through banks, which typically have some of the lowest rates in the market. SmartBiz’s low rates and 10-year loan term make the online lender an attractive option when you want to make major investments to grow your business.

Do you qualify?
  • Personal credit score: No minimum listed, but most borrowers have at least a 600 personal FICO score or higher and the typical borrower has 750
  • Time in business: At least 2 years; about 10 for typical SmartBiz borrower
  • Annual revenue: No minimum listed, but most borrowers make at least $50,000. The typical borrower makes about $1 million

Although SmartBiz has streamlined the SBA loan process, it can still take a week or longer to be approved, depending on how quickly you’d be able to send at least 10 required documents.

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If you don’t qualify for a SmartBiz loan, due to more rigorous SBA requirements, consider Lending Club, which offers competitive rates.

Do you qualify?
  • Personal credit score: Minimum of 600; typical Lending Club borrower has 700
  • Time in business: 2 years; the typical borrower has 11+ years
  • Annual revenue: At least $75,000; most Lending Club borrowers make about $1 million yearly

With Lending Club, you can be funded as soon as two days. You must own 20% of the business, and the lender requires collateral for loans and lines of credit of more than $100,000.

Lending Club’s Loan Terms
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
  • APR: 8% to 32%
  • Loan term: 1 – 5 years
  • Approval time: Less than a week for funding

For women with 600+ credit, in business a year

Dealstruck: The lender’s inventory-specific line of credit may be a good fit for retailers. 

Do you qualify?
  • Personal credit score: Minimum of 600; typical borrowers have 660 - 700
  • Time in business: At least 1 year; most Dealstruck borrowers have been in business 5-plus years
  • Annual revenue: At least $12,500 per month in revenue; typically, borrowers make $1 million - $2 million
Dealstruck’s loan terms
  • Loan amount: $50,000 to $250,000
  • APR: 11% to 28%
  • Loan term: 6 months to 4 years
  • Approval time: Prequalification in minutes, offer letter in 2 to 3 days, average of 10 days to funding

For established women entrepreneurs with 620+ credit score

Funding Circle: Its loans are popular with franchises and retail businesses.

Do you qualify?
  • Personal credit score: At least 620; average credit score of Funding Circle borrowers is 700
  • Time in business: 2 years; most borrowers have about 10 years in business
  • Annual revenue: Minimum $150,000; average annual revenue about $2 million

With loans of up to $500,000 and APRs as low as 8%, Funding Circle is a good option for established retailers. Founded by franchise owners, it is also franchise friendly. You need to have been profitable at least one of the last two years, and a personal guarantee is required.

Funding Circle’s loan terms
  • Loan amount: $25,000 to $500,000
  • APR: 8% to 33%
  • Loan term: 1 to 5 years
  • Approval time: Prequalification in minutes, offer letter in 2 to 3 days, average of 10 days to funding

For women-owned startups

Prosper: Personal loans for business purposes can give you a leg up when starting out. 

Do you qualify?
  • Personal credit score: Minimum of 640

If you’re just starting a business, raising funds for your new company is likely one of your biggest challenges. Banks and many online lenders do not extend credit to you unless you’ve been in business for at least a year. But Prosper offers personal loans for business purposes. Prosper is a peer-to-peer lender, which means the money actually comes from individual investors.

Prosper’s loan terms
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $35,000
  • APR: 6% to 36%
  • Loan term: 3 to 5 years
  • Approval time:Full approval and funding in 2-14 days

Women-owned businesses can also get help in the early stages through grants provided by government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Here are 10 places to look for small-business grants for women.

Evaluate small-business loans carefully

If you’re a woman entrepreneur, you won’t run out of financing options for your small business. There are plenty of choices, depending on your financial situation and needs.

Benjamin Pimentel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @benpimentel. This article first appeared at NerdWallet.