SBA loans and business resources for women and minorities

Jessica SarterSmall Business Lending

As a prospective female entrepreneur, or one coming from a minority community in the United States, you may wonder what resources are in place to help you attain small business loans and financing. Fortunately for you, getting the support you need through special programs managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and several affiliated government agencies is entirely possible.

Are there any SBA- or federally-backed small business loans specifically for women and/or minorities?
The answer to the above question is somewhat complex. Essentially, it's "no," because neither the SBA nor any other agency of the federal U.S. government offers aid that can specifically be called a traditional "loan" for women or minorities. The only exceptions involve financing for businesses owned and operated by American Indians that specifically benefit a tribe's economy.

However, nonprofit organizations operating in several specific states may either provide financing or help you acquire it through preferred lenders they are partnered with. States featuring these organizations include Illinois, Iowa, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey and others. All of these programs will have specific requirements you'll have to meet in order to be eligible.

What federal assistance can women- or minority-owned businesses receive?
You'll of course be able to apply for the same SBA-backed loan programs or conventional small business loans available to the majority of small businesses. All you'll have to do is meet whatever eligibility requirements are associated with the program you're interested in or are assigned by the lending institution.

In terms of exclusive opportunities, the federal government does provide one particularly notable benefit to women- and minority owned-businesses – namely, providing the means to receive potentially lucrative government contracts. You would have the opportunity to exclusively sell your goods or services to U.S. government agencies, making for a consistent and reliable source of revenue.

Female entrepreneurs interested in government contracting can contact the National Women's Business Council (NWBC), while minority business owners will want to seek out the resources of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).