While it’s easy to think that women and men have a fairly level playing field, at least in the business world, this isn’t always the case.

Though great efforts have been made to provide more resources and encourage more women-owned businesses, improvements are definitely needed.

Although some financing programs are geared to any type of business, not every woman-owned business is aware of or takes advantages of them.

For instance, a 2014 report by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship showed that women entrepreneurs find it difficult to locate or receive access to service and training and more male-owned companies are earning federal contracts.

Worse, while women and men can both apply for funding from the Small Business Administration, one study showed that 96 percent of funds went to men-owned businesses. This says that barriers are still perceived: one Harvard study said that more investors would be more likely to fund a business proposal simply if a man presented it rather than a woman.

Company owners may be interested in funding to start a new venture or expand. There are a variety of loans available along with local and national grant sources. These include:

  • Cartier Women’s Initiative Award. Women-owned for-profit companies that focus on the social good can apply for this annual grant that includes $100,000, business coaching and executive training.
  • InnovateHER Challenge. Funds are available to businesses that come up with creative products or services that benefit the lives of women and families. This challenge is offered at the local, regional and national levels.
  • Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant. A total of 10 grants are given each year to 10 women whose businesses are focused especially in the areas of social and environmental change.
  • Amber Grant. If your business does innovative or interesting things that can benefit your local community and the world, you could be eligible for a $500 grant awarded monthly. The foundation also chooses one of the 12 each year and provides an additional $1,000.   

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