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If you are struggling to maintain or grow your business, you should be looking at all possible avenues, not just traditional banks. Though this is 2021, these institutions are still entrenched in the status quo where women are deemed as risky borrowers. Ditto, the investor world which is dominated by males;  don’t look for an easy path to funding in that quarter.

While these traditional institutions make their incremental advances to equity in accessing capital for women-owned  businesses, especially those in underserved communities, explore four solutions:

#1: Arrange a loan (not a handout) from family and friends who have not been financial affected by the pandemic. Utilize a loan management company (or loan services company) who will draw up the agreement and make the agreed-upon deductions. These companies typically only charge the borrowers between .25% and .50%.

Another great way to formalize a loan between friends is to draw up simple legal forms. Whether it is an interest-free loan or low-interest one, having a written and formal arrangement greatly reduces the stress generally inherent when borrowing from individuals.

So don’t discount your network as a funding source but do be smart about it. Here is a helpful article.

#2: Avoid online lenders that charge high interest rates—often in excess of 20%! Even if you may be accustomed to high interest rates on your personal credit cards, why give away even more of your hard-earned money?

If you must consider an online bank, check if it has a promotional offer whereby you pay the borrowed amount within 12 to 18 months, interest-free. Ask if they also offer any flexibility for partial payment in tight months. Make sure you know the late payment fee and if there is a grace period on your monthly payments.

#3: If you have personal or business debt, try to resolve it with the vendor. Show your accountability and willingness to negotiate and restructure your loan. Consolidating your debts is another option, helping to build your creditworthiness.

#4: Have an invoice to deliver goods or services? This could be the asset you need to present as collateral on a loan. Work with your accountant to discover if factoring is an option to fulfill current business opportunities.