Women Entrepreneurs
3:23 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Cantwell Takes Aim At Gender Gap In Access To Business Loans

Women entrepreneurs aren’t getting the same access to business loans as their male counterparts nationwide, and a new report shows the gender gap is even bigger in Washington.

Women own about 30 percent of American businesses, but get just 13 percent of the dollars lent by the federal Small Business Administration. In Washington, it’s just 11 percent, according to a new report commissioned by a U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, chaired by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. 

The numbers are even more unbalanced for loans from private lenders, with just 4 percent nationally going to women. Cantwell said many women entrepreneurs, especially ones targeting female consumers, have to clear a higher bar when they pitch their businesses.

“Oftentimes they go before boards or people who are making a determination on capital, and they are looked at with a blank stare because [the lenders] don’t really understand the product, or the market,” Cantwell said.

She was speaking at Seattle-based Glassybaby, a woman-owned business that crafts hand-blown glass votives and now claims about $10 million in revenue.

Cantwell has proposed legislation to expand federally-funded Women Business Centers, which provide training and counseling. There are three in Washington.

She also wants the Small Business Administration to offer more micro- and medium-size loans, which she said will appeal to female business owners.