Did you know that Ohio was voted one of the best places for women to start businesses? According to FitSmallBusiness.com, the state was ranked No. 2, behind Texas. As the number of female entrepreneurs in the United States steadily grows, attention is being focused on the support that is being made available to women business owners, and the gap between them and their male counterparts. One of those categories of support? Financing options. It has already been established that women entrepreneurs may be treated differently when it comes to applying for credit. For example, Fortune Magazine and Bizz2Credit revealed that women tend to get approved for loan amounts that are 45 percent less compared to men. Yet the number of women taking the plunge into business continues to grow, and as a result, women are looking for ways to succeed in entrepreneurship, including financial support. Cincinnati is brimming with financial options to help them do just that.
Small Business Grants -The Amber Grant & EnrichHER Funding
The EnrichHER Funding program and society have long been known for supporting women entrepreneurs. While other parts of the society connect women with mentors and other business support resources, the funding program seeks businesses in existence for a minimum of 12 months, and also stipulates a credit score of 600 or higher. The financing options are also varied, and include loans up to $250,000, lines of credit and grants.
The Amber Grant is also another great program for women looking to start their own business, and is backed by WomensNet. Each month, a $2,000 grant is given out, and at year-end, a grant worth $25,000 is granted to one of the 12 business owners. Application is easily done online, and the website also offers a host of additional resources, including tips on how to secure the best loan for your business.
Local Loan Programs – The Cincinnati Access Fund
In 2018, The Cincinnati Access Fund program was launched as an initiative supported by Fifth Third Bank. The fund’s value stands at $3.5 million and is specifically geared towards women and minority-owned small businesses in Cincinnati. It was announced that the Access Fund will offer two different loan options aimed at both new and existing businesses. Microloans are for loans of a value of $100,000 or less, and are for those businesses that find themselves unable to access traditional financing. Term loans are for those entrepreneurs looking to grow their revenues and employee base, and are offered in amounts of $100,000 and $350,000. The program stands apart from others in the sense that it is specifically aimed at small businesses, and can be a great stepping stone in helping small business owners improve their chances of securing traditional financing later down the line, including improving chances and rates charged when using and securing short term consumer financing.
Startup Programs – The Hillman Accelerator & The Brandery
In 2017, the Hillman Accelerator was launched with the aim of assisting women and minority entrepreneurs who were in the tech industry. Funded by firms such as The Brandery and CincyTech, the program has seen great success since the launch, and was one of the most publicized attempts at encouraging diversity in business startups. It is also much more than just a financing program. In addition to connecting entrepreneurs with suitable venture capitalists, the Hillman Accelerator also connects you with mentors to guide you in navigating the beginning process, and also to help businesses with their customer acquisition strategy.
One of the program’s investors, The Brandery is also a great option for female entrepreneurs, and helps in the area of branding, marketing, and design for new companies. The startup boasts multiple female mentors who can help you understand what it is like as a woman in business, and in return for their participation, The Brandery secures a 6 percent stake in each startup for $50,000 in capital, office space for a year, and additional benefits.
It has never been a better time to get into business as a woman. More female entrepreneurs are not only starting their own businesses, but proving repeatedly what a success they can be in the industry. In response, more companies are taking notice and providing the resources to enable and encourage female participation. The world is slowly welcoming female entrepreneurs into the fold, Cincinnati included.