Turned down for a credit line for your startup? Chances are higher that you are a woman entrepreneur, in that case. Taking a business loan remains an incredibly hard task for women even today.
Women entrepreneurs are accelerators of economical growth, but accessing capital is among the biggest problems they face. A recent IMF study says that obstacles to female participation could be the biggest obstacle to growth.
But how do women perceive getting access to business funding or loans? Primarily, women entrepreneurs tend to see loans as liabilities, given the high interest rates and stringent collateral conditions.
Let’s take a peek over her shoulder.
The Independent Go-Getter
As a single woman with no liabilities and plenty of opportunities, a female entrepreneur with no family obligation can still face a lot of obstacles in securing a loan.
Intriguingly, she may not be afraid to take a loan, but there are other structural issues. She may lack assets to leverage as collateral. Added to that, many banks ask for a co-applicant or guarantor.
The Married Homemaker
The married woman faces different hurdles such as pressing domestic responsibilities and financial obligations. Loans can hardly be leveraged when there is less confidence in her ability to repay them. Family members may discourage her from taking on financial obligations like loans, especially if it is a bigger loan.
The issue gets compounded when it comes to mortgaging the family property, which may be in her husband’s name. Thus, taking a business loan becomes an elusive chimera.
The Focused Career Woman
For the career-minded business woman, perhaps the biggest problem is growth. Women often start small and securing loans for micro enterprises is comparatively easy. But as many small firms lack the business history or collateral for bank lending, lack of access to higher levels of funding hampers growth.
Many business loans with lesser interest rate need collateral. But what if the only property she co owns is already mortgaged with another bank for a home loan? Women are also less aware of angel investors, PE or equity funds, and VC firms that can help them. Attractive financing options like micro lending, P2P funding, crowd funding etc, elude women business-owners who need it the most, because of lack of sensitization and awareness.
What Banks Think
Banks tend to hesitate and think skeptically when it comes to lending to women entrepreneurs. This is because of the perception that women do not have adequate earning power to pay back the loan.
Bottom line: For a woman, taking a business loan is still an uphill task. Besides her own fears, she has to face skepticism from her own family and business ecosystems as well as the banking infrastructure. The downside of this is a business that struggles to grow and an economy that remains stagnant.