Women Entrepreneurs Profiting from Banking Relations

Article excerpt

Substantial progress has been made in access to capital for women business owners, according to a new study.

Compared with four years ago, women business owners are much more likely to report satisfaction with their banking relationships and much less likely to use credit cards as a source of capital, according to the study by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO). Despite this progress, women-owned businesses still have lower levels of credit and are less likely to seek financing than male-owned businesses.

"Capital, Credit and Financing: Comparing Women and Men Business Owners' Sources and Uses of Capital" is the first study to directly compare women and men business owners' perceptions about financing as well as their sources and uses of capital. The study, underwritten by Wells Fargo Bank with additional support from AT&T Credit Corp., focused on established, commercially active businesses. "Over the last several years, bankers have begun to recognize that the nearly 8 million women-owned businesses in this country are a great, untapped market," said Susan Peterson, NFWBO chair and president of a Washington, D.C.-based communication training firm. "And women business owners have become increasingly more sophisticated in dealing with financial institutions." To prove that point, Wells Fargo Bank last week announced a $10 billion dollar loan program for women business owners. That's right! $10 billion dollars for 10 years! Wells Fargo Bank announced Oct. 25 that it loaned $1 billion to women small business owners over the past year and would lend $10 billion more in the next decade. In September 1995, in partnership with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Wells Fargo set up a $1 billion loan fund for women entrepreneurs, which was to be disbursed across the country over a three-year period. However, response from women in small business was so strong that Wells Fargo loaned the $1 billion in just over one year. Terri Dial, vice chairman and head of the Business Banking Group at Wells Fargo Bank, indicated that this was the first nationwide lending program of its kind. …