To get your business started, you might lean on family and friends for small investments. But once your business takes off, what are your options for getting money to grow the business? Venture capital might be out of reach, but crowdfunding and grants can give you the financial boost you need.

To get your business started, you might lean on family and friends for small investments. But once your business takes off, what are your options for getting money to grow the business? Venture capital might be out of reach, but crowdfunding and grants can give you the financial boost you need.

How to find business funding, even when you’re starting small

When you launch a business, sometimes you have little more than a vision and a willingness to work hard. For seed money, you might do what many small-business owners do: Look to family members and friends for the funds needed to open your doors and create your first products. But once your business gets off the ground and you’re ready to expand, what’s the next funding source beyond family and friends? Can you find investment besides what loan providers offer?

In a recent blog post, we looked at the barriers that women face when trying to obtain loans, especially when compared to male entrepreneurs. As it turns out, this is also a problem in the area of business funding – even in the venture capital (VC) world, where women are usually well-connected to business leaders. The percentage of women-owned businesses receiving venture capital hit 17 percent in 2012, and hasn’t budged higher since, according to research from Crunchbase. The percentage of VC-backed, women-led firms has remained stagnant since 2012. In addition, women entrepreneurs raise $82 on average for every $100 raised by a business founded by a man.

The big issue here is that women are underrepresented in VC firms (64 female partners out of 752 at the top 100 firms). Fortunately, some venture firms are trying to address the funding/gender gap, such as Female Founders Fund and Rethink Impact, and they seek out women-owned businesses in which to invest.

If you’re not ready to ask for a large VC investment, there are other options. Crowdfunding – where many people give you small amounts of money that can add up to a big investment – is one option. According to a recent study by PwC and The Crowdfunding Center, women were 32 percent more successful at reaching their fundraising targets than men were. “Female crowdfunders also tend to use more emotional and inclusive language in their videos and pitch descriptions than men [do],” the study says. “This language is more appealing both to female and to male backers, and positively correlated with fundraising success.”

There are many options for crowdsourced funding, including Kickstarter and GoFundMe. iFundWomen is aimed specifically at women-led startups and small businesses, and also offers advice on how to conduct a successful crowdfunding campaign. Their website features hundreds of campaigns launched by women-owned businesses of all kinds, from cookies to coding.

Grants might also be an option for getting money for your business. This NerdWallet list summarizes many federal and state grant programs for women, as well as some grants from nonprofits and corporate programs. Keep in mind that grants are competitive: You’ll be in competition with lots of other applicants, and if you receive a grant, you’ll often need to account for spending and show business results.


Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org.  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Visit us online at http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Opportunity Fund. Working Capital for Working People. opportunityfund.org