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How the Small Business Administration Helps Women in Business

The SBA Does Not Offer Grants, But Helps Business Women in Many Other Ways


What is the Small Business Administration?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent agency of the federal government. It was established in 1953 to encourage small business establishment and growth.

The SBA itself does not directly provide financing to small business owners, but may facilitate financing through partnerships with public and private organizations. The SBA assists qualifying for-profit women business owners who seek venture capital through equity financing and debt financing.

The SBA does not offer grants to for-profit businesses but may offer grants to nonprofit organizations.

Geographic Areas covered by the SBA: The United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The SBA administers most of its services through a network of field offices throughout the U.S.

SBA Programs to Help Women Entrepreneurs

The SBA offers programs and support services to women entrepreneurs through the Office of Women's Business Ownership and to socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (which includes women) through Minority Enterprise Development Programs.

SBA Minority Enterprise Development Programs

Sections 7(j) and 8(a) of the Small Business Act provide for the Minority Enterprise Development Program (MEDP) under the SBA. This program was set up to promote business ownership for economically and socially disadvantaged individuals.

To be considered under MEDP, small businesses must be at least 51% unconditionally owned, controlled, and managed by one or more individuals that meet the definition of being socially and economically disadvantaged.

MEDP services include:

  • Management and technical assistance
  • Loans
  • Federal contracts

SBA Office of Women's Business Ownership

The Office of Women's Business Ownership (OWBO) provides advocacy assistance and support to women entrepreneurs. It is the only federal office set up to specifically assist women in business.

The OWBO offers:

  • Technical, financial, and management information to potential, new, and existing women business owners;
  • Business training skills and counseling through its 54 training centers in 28 states and the District of Columbia; and
  • A one-year mentoring program through the Women's Network for Entrepreneurial training (an organization created by the SBA).

Finding Venture Capital to Start a Small Business

Most start-up capital for small businesses comes from the founder's own pocket. This is particularly true for women entrepreneurs who are less likely than men to take out business loans. Women are also more likely turn to family and friends for financing options before taking out a loan.

That's great if you have your own cash or access to private resources, but what if you need more capital than you can find on your own?

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