New Funding Sources For Women-Led Businesses

By Bruce Freeman
The Small Business Professor.

Here’s a forecast that my coauthor on “Birthing the Elephant,” Karin Abarbanel, alerted me to recently: By 2018, experts predict that the U.S. economy will generate close to 10 million new jobs, and more than half of them will be created by women entrepreneurs.

This projection begs some questions, such as:

Q: I need capital to fuel my growing business. What funding resources are available to me as a woman business owner?

A: Finding both startup dollars and early-stage funds to boost growth is an ongoing challenge for women business owners, but this is rapidly changing. Today, targeted programs are springing up to help female entrepreneurs grow their bottom lines, from women-focused angel investors to crowdfunding platforms.
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There is a level of innovation that could have never been anticipated, according to Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, a nonprofit providing business resources and training to help women build their ventures.

Other women-focused resources to investigate include:

Astia, Double Digit Academy, and Springboard Enterprises, and the Women’s Venture Fund all provide leadership training, access to capital and business connections to help high-growth, women-led ventures expand.

Plum Alley is a crowdfunding, e-commerce and networking site geared to aspiring women entrepreneurs needing startup dollars. Launched by Deborah Jackson, a former investment banker, in its first months it helped raise more than $200,000 in seed funds.

Angel networks, such as Golden Seeds, Launch Angels, Belle Capital and the Texas Women’s Fund offer early stage investment to fast-growing women-owned businesses with breakthrough market potential. Since 2005, Golden Seeds, for example, has invested more than $70 million in women-led enterprises.

To tap these types of funding sources, you’ll need a strong business proposal profiling your venture’s track record and outlook.

Angel investors look for dynamic leadership and a committed, stable management team capable of pushing a business to new levels of growth and profitability. They also want to see a solid business model and a large, expanding market. Some angel investors have a hands-off policy; other want active involvement to protect their investment. Be sure you’re attuned to their operating style before making your approach.
Bruce Freeman, a small business consultant, is adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Seton Hall and Kean universities. He also is co-author of “Birthing the Elephant: The Woman’s Go-For-It Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business.”

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