When a woman starts a business, the odds can seem stacked against her. Almost 60 percent of women business owners say they don’t have the same access to capital as their male counterparts. Forty-two percent have never applied for a business loan or line of credit. And 25 percent of women entrepreneurs are so pessimistic about change, they believe women will never have equal access to capital.
That’s all according to Bank of America’s 2021 Women Business Owner Spotlight and research from previous years.
An even bigger obstacle is VC funding. In 2018, $130 billion in venture capital funds were invested, yet only 2.2% went to companies led by a single female founder or an all-female team.
Helping women navigate the capital landscape
Earlier this month, in partnership with Seneca Women, Bank of America tried to help change all this by launching its Access to Capital Directory.
The online platform is designed to help women-owned U.S. businesses learn how to navigate the capital landscape and identifying potential funding sources—including equity, debt, and grant capital. Appropriately, the directory launched during National Women’s Small Business Month.
Determing the type of funding needed can be challenging
“Finding funds isn’t always easy, and determining which type of fund you might need can be even more challenging,” Pam Seagle, Bank of America’s manager of global women’s programs, told Dallas Innovates.
Seagle says the Access to Capital Directory “allows women seeking capital to sort potential funding by type—including seed, Series A, or late-stage equity, as well as grants and debt capital—depending on their business stage and needs.”
Directory covers more than 350 sources of capital
This new online resource has more than 350 sources of capital. It’s the only place where this compilation of aggregated content can currently be found, the bank says.
The directory offers insights into six different funding sources: Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs); Venture Capital and Angel Investors; Grants; Loan Funds; and Crowd Funds.
Bank of America hopes that by offering this resource, it will allow women entrepreneurs “to leverage critical resources, education, and tools to boost their potential and succeed.”
“We know when women business owners succeed, our local communities and economy thrive,” Seagle said.
Tennis star Serena Williams: directory could help “bridge that gap”
Serena Williams is more than a superstar tennis play. She’s also founder of venture capital firm Serena Ventures. She sees the value in what this new directory can offer women entrepreneurs in North Texas and across the country.
“Women’s entrepreneurship is crucial to the growth of our economy and access to capital is one of the key challenges women continue to face,” Williams said in a statement. “Bank of America has become a leader in providing growth capital to women and minority founders, and we’re proud to be partnering with them and of their support of Serena Ventures.”
“Today they’re leading the way with a digital destination that will provide education, information and access to funding options,” Williams added, “contributing further to the goal of bridging that gap for women entrepreneurs across the U.S.”
Women-owned businesses are a key part of the U.S. economy
According to the bank, women-owned businesses now employ 9.5 million people, generating $1.9 trillion in annual revenues and accounting for 40% of all United States businesses.
One notable sign of progress: Black women’s entrepreneurship has more than doubled over the past decade.
The directory provides resources broadly to women entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, building on the bank’s support of minority-owned small businesses who face similar challenges when seeking capital.
Seagle says the platform will continue to evolve over time as new sources of funding are identified and needs emerge.
Seneca Women is a champion for creating a more equitable and prosperous world through the advancement and empowerment of women and girls. With its extensive media network and focus on thought leadership, Seneca Women was the right fit as a partner. Through this partnership, we are working toward the same goal of ensuring women entrepreneurs have access to the education and resources they need to navigate the capital landscape and grow their business.
To learn more about the Access to Capital Directory, go here or view this introductory video.
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