Texas is a great state for women entrepreneurs — and the state has been ranked No. 1 in multiple business lists. Still, one of the biggest hurdles for a startup is funding.

The 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express had some eye-popping revelations:

Between 2014 and 2019, the number of women-owned businesses climbed 21%, to a total of nearly 13 million (12,943,400).

Employment grew by 8%, to 9.4 million.

Revenue rose 21% to $1.9 trillion.

Additionally, several key metrics for women-owned businesses showed continued progress when compared with all businesses over the past five years:

The number of women-owned businesses increased 21%, while all businesses increased only 9%.

Total employment by women-owned businesses rose 8%, while for all businesses the increase was 1.8%.

Total revenue growth of women-owned businesses was about the same as for all businesses: 21% and 20% respectively.

Unfortunately, funding for women falls far below what men are receiving. The National Women’s Business Council reports that women receive less than 5% of government funding for small businesses and less than 5% of venture capital funding.

Access to capital is crucial for a startup or growing business. In addition to local lending institutions, the Small Business Administration 504 and 7(a) loan programs are designed to promote economic development and job creation in small businesses. Lenders can be found through the SBA website. Alternative lenders include companies such as Accion, PeopleFund and LiftFund. Some programs offer loans as small as $500 for a small business.

To help women get startup funding, the Center for Women Entrepreneurs has launched the StartHER microgrant program for the fourth consecutive year. Ten winners will receive $5,000 in grant funding for their small businesses.

Grant funding may be used for the purchase of machinery, equipment or technology; acquisition of new inventory or raw materials; purchase and installation of fixtures or display units; property improvements; marketing; or other business-related activity that is aligned with the purpose of the program. Wages, salaries and sales tax are ineligible for funding.

Winners will be awarded $2,500 upfront and will need to attend a virtual small-business training program and complete a business plan to receive the second round of funding. The course will cover topics such as business plan development, marketing, legal and accounting and financing. Businesses wishing to apply for the StartHER grant must submit a completed online application before 5 p.m. Oct. 16.

TRACY IRBY is the associate director for the Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Woman’s University. She can be reached at tirby@twu.edu. The center is part of TWU’s Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership.

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