Indian women who want to follow their passion and start their own businesses are successfully becoming entrepreneurs.
As a young woman in India, you probably have some great business ideas that you want to see come to life as you start your entrepreneurial journey.
Is there an idea in your mind that can make you the next Ambani or Tata? If the answer is yes, then you know that the most important thing you need to start a business, apart from the idea, is capital.
Any business requires some initial investment. It might be used to set up an office or to buy raw materials or machines or even to pay employees.
And even if your idea is really good and your business takes off, there is still an incubation period at the beginning where you need to spend money from your own pocket.
If you’re an ambitious Indian woman who wants to start her own business or establish and expand an existing business, this no longer has to remain just a dream.
But when it comes to financing your business, not all women have the support of their family or spouse. So, what do you do if you don’t have the capital to fund your startup?
It’s normal for someone new to the world of entrepreneurship to face obstacles with funding their ideas, because they’ve probably started without a solid background, and it might even be their first attempt at running a business ever.
If you need to upgrade your business skills without taking a break, you can do an online MBA course from top business schools in India or abroad. This will give you the confidence you need to approach lenders for funding when you need it.
If the problem of financing your woman-owned business in India has been holding you back, there’s help available in the form of government loans and small business loans for women entrepreneurs.
Why Do We Need Business Loans for Women?
Traditionally, running a business has been considered a man’s domain. But with changing times, this notion is changing, too.
There is a popular misconception that women cannot handle money well and that any business run by a woman is bound to fail. This is one of the reasons why many women find it difficult to get the capital they need to start a business.
However, successful women entrepreneurs like Vandana Luthra of VLCC and Shahnaz Husain of Shahnaz Herbals, have shown that this notion is far from the truth and that they can run a business just as well, or perhaps even better than men.
As per the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2018, India was ranked 52nd out of 57 countries in terms of women’s ability to find capital to start a business, ranking only higher than Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Algeria.
This is a sorry state of affairs, and this low rank is partly due to a lack of support, financial assets, and knowledge, as well as the level of bias against women in the workforce.
The good news is that the Indian government and banks are aware of this situation and are trying to rectify it by offering a number of small business loans for women in India.
A business loan for women can be a lifesaver for enterprising women who want to start a business, says, Ekta Shah at deAsra Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that aims to enable entrepreneurs to start, manage and grow their businesses.
These government loans for women can really help tide you over a financially difficult time, but it’s important to be smart and careful with business loans in India, and know how and where to find the right investors.
New business loans for women that have lower interest rates and lower or no collateral requirements are always being offered by banks in India.
Business funding for women comes with a lot of benefits, and you can always finance your business ideas with small business startup loans for women.
As opposed to traditional lenders, such as venture capitalists, you’ll find that the criteria are much less restrictive for you to be eligible for a women entrepreneur’s loan.
A great number of businesses today prefer to raise funds via a government or bank loan for women’s business or via credit cards. This doesn’t make it a better or a worse option.
It’s only you who can determine what works best for you in the end.
How to Apply for Bank Loans and Small Business Loans for Women Entrepreneurs
Applicants for bank loans for women entrepreneurs are generally required to fulfil certain criteria, including good credit history.
That is, you should have made your credit card payments or other loan payments on time. This reflects your pay-back power and will help to increase your success rate while applying for loans.
You should have been filing your Income Tax returns on time and have all the relevant documents with you.
What’s important to know is if you’re trying to get funding via a bank loan for woman entrepreneurs, you’re going to need a first-rate business plan.
Another reason this is essential for your startup to get funding is when you fill out a loan application, you need to input every little detail from your business plan into the application.
You’ll also need a clear idea of how your business is going to grow in the days to come and the strategies you will use to make that happen.
So, if you want to apply for business loans for women, you must do a proper analysis of all the marketing strategies you plan to use when the time comes to grow your business.
Your business plan will show the bank or lender how you plan to earn enough to repay the loan, from the profits, or by expanding the business.
Your business’ net worth should be positive and there should be no outstanding debts. You can convince your lender that you’re in the position to pay back with your savings or assets if need be.
In order to get approved for a small business loan for women, you will require a guarantor. You need to select a reliable friend or partner from among your family or acquaintances to help you apply for the loan.
As a new business owner, there will be contracts to sign and legal decisions to prepare for, so you’ll also want to hire a lawyer for your business.
Hiring a competent professional is highly recommended in this case, as free advice on the internet could end up leaving you bankrupt.
You want to be aware of all the options you have, in terms of services, loan rates, and other factors, so that you end up with the best loan rate for your current situation.
You should also be aware that applying for a PAN card and having all your business registration paperwork and documentation ready will make it much easier for you to get a loan.
To sum up, here are the basic requirements to apply for small business loans for women in India:
- Good CIBIL or credit score (usually over 600)
- Regular Income Tax returns filing
- A first-rate business plan
- Positive net worth
- No outstanding debts
- Registered business name & PAN number
- A guarantor
- Some loans may require collateral
- A chartered account and/or lawyer to analyse your business loan application
Don’t forget to check all the costs that come along with your startup loans for women, as well as interest rates, because you don’t want to end up defaulting on your payments.
When opting for a women entrepreneurs loan, you have a number of options at hand.
You can either start your business using your savings and, as it begins its successful run, research the ladies loan schemes available to expand your business.
The other viable option is to get going with a startup business loan for women and repay it as your business grows.
Although there are various loan schemes for women entrepreneurs in India, they have not been able to maximise their benefits.
This is primarily because women entrepreneurs in India are not aware of the different avenues of business credit and government loans for ladies available to them.
In this article, we list a number of sources of funding for entrepreneurial ventures by women in India. These broadly fall under four categories:
1. Public Sector Bank (PSB) Loans
Schemes specially designed for women entrepreneurs funded by the public sector (nationalised) banks.
Advantage: relatively relaxed interest rates
Disadvantage: tons of red tape
2. Private Sector Bank Loans
Loan schemes designed for business women funded by private banks.
Advantage: higher quantum of loans
Disadvantage: higher rates of interest
3. Central/State Government Schemes
Grants and bursaries from Central and state governments for women entrepreneurs.
Advantage: being a grant, no need for repayment
Disadvantage: red tape, again, and the fact that grants only cover percentages of total monies required.
4. Grants from NGOs and other funding organisations
Grants and bursaries from private, developmental or philanthropic organisations.
Advantage: higher packages of funding
Disadvantage: usually highly competitive, and with the general requirement of the enterprise needing to be of a social or developmental nature.
Government grants for female business owners and grants for women’s small business start-ups are also available to those who operate a social or developmental enterprise.
You can successfully meet your capital requirements for starting a business with financial help in the form of loans for Indian women entrepreneurs.
Continue reading to learn about government loan schemes for women’s business, as well as bank loan schemes for women-owned businesses in India.
Government Loans For Women’s Business Ventures In India
Government and public sector banks (PSBs) in India have devised many women’s small business government loans to ensure hassle-free loan issuance to women entrepreneurs.
PSBs provide loans at lower interest rates and the government has offered many subsidies for women.
Starting from housing to education, and even for setting up Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), there’s a scheme for everything.
The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has always been a supportive structure for people involved and interested in the MSME sector, and it is especially liberal for women.
To encourage women to build up small business setups and use their skills, SIDBI offers government loans for businesses in India.
Several financial institutions, PSBs, private banks and NGOs are now offering to help aspiring women entrepreneurs like you, by offering various loan schemes for women through online marketplaces.
In the section below, we’ve listed women’s business loans from the government and public sector banks for Indian women entrepreneurs.
PSB Loans in 59 minutes is an online marketplace that enables In-Principle approval for MSME loans up to INR 1 Crore in 59 minutes from Public Sector Banks.
The loan processing turnaround time is from 20 to 25 days to 59 minutes. Post receiving of In-Principle approval letter, the loan can be disbursed in as little as 7 to 8 working days.
The loans are processed without human intervention till sanction and/or disbursement stage. On this platform, MSME borrowers are not required to submit any physical document for In-Principle approval.
There are several institutions such as Government Finance Schemes, Public Sector Banks, NGOs, Microfinance Institutions, and self-help groups, ready to offer schemes for women entrepreneurs on this portal.
You can choose any of these government loans for small business in India depending on the type of business funding you require.
Are you an uneducated housewife or unemployed young woman or student who wants to start a business?
Instead of paying high-interest rates by taking a personal or business loan for housewives, you can avail up to INR 2 lakh for marriage, home renovations and medical expenses, and a loan of up to INR 5 lakh, to start a business.
Since 1993, the Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), a scheme designed to provide government loan plans for unemployed in India, has provided finance to create and provide sustainable self-employment opportunities to educated unemployed youth.
Under the PMRY, the Government of India has introduced a special scheme for unemployed persons educated up to the 8th class or able to repay the loan amount.
The eligibility age is 18 to 35 years and extends up to the age of 45 years for women, SCs/STs, ex-servicemen, and the physically handicapped.
No collateral is required for projects costing up to INR 1 lakh. Group financing up to INR 5 lakhs is available through the scheme.
On 8th April 2015, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the very ambitious MUDRA Yojana Scheme for Women (also known as Modi loan scheme 50000).
Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Ltd. (MUDRA) is a non-banking financial company (NBFC) that supports the development of the micro-enterprise sector in India, under the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY).
This Govt loan for women’s business has special provisions for women entrepreneurs with the basic concept of “Funding the Unfunded.”
The MUDRA loan for women provides refinance support to Banks or Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs) for lending to micro units that require loans of up to INR 10 lakh.
In order to encourage women entrepreneurs, the financing banks or MFIs may consider extending additional facilities, including interest reduction on their loan.
The MUDRA loan is available under three schemes, each targeting businesses at different stages of development.
- Shishu scheme is for businesses that are just starting and the maximum amount available is INR 50,000.
- Kishor scheme is for businesses that are well-established and the loan amount ranges from INR 50,000 to INR 5 lakhs.
- Tarun scheme is for well-established businesses who want to expand their operations. The maximum loan amount available under this scheme is INR 10 lakhs.
At present, MUDRA loan for ladies extends a reduction of 25bps in its interest rates to MFIs / NBFCs, who are providing loans to women entrepreneurs.
How to Avail of the MUDRA Loan
A loan for women starting a business can be easily granted under the MUDRA loan scheme. Even the procedure to avail the loan is quite simple.
All you have to do is contact the local financial institutions of your respective region and they will guide you through it. Here is a list of financial institutions you can contact:
- Scheduled Commercial Banks (Public/Private)
- Regional Rural Banks
- Scheduled Urban Co-operative Banks
- State Co-operative Banks
- Micro Finance Institutions (such as Societies and Trusts)
You will have to go through a few formalities for verification and follow up after which a verified female candidate will receive a MUDRA Card, which is a credit system.
With this card, you can withdraw credit up to INR 10,000 at a time as business loans for women.
The number of women who benefit from these small business loans is expected to double or even tripled in the coming year. Government loans for women in India were never this easy.
- The scheme is launched by the government in collaboration with different banks.
- The loans are tailored to meet the requirements of the business depending on how established it is.
- Once the loan is granted, you will be given a MUDRA card.
- This card functions like a credit card, with the limit being 10% of the loan amount.
- The loans do not require any collateral.
- The interest varies depending on the banks from where you avail the loan.
The Stand Up India Scheme facilitates bank loans between INR 10 lakh and 1 crore to women or SC/ST borrowers for setting up a Greenfield enterprise (a work which is not following a prior work) in the manufacturing, services, or trading sector.
51% of the shareholding and controlling stake must be held by the woman or SC/ST entrepreneur.
This scheme provides government grants for women running NGOs in the realm of women development.
Successful applicants receive access to credit and financial assistance via a “Government Grant up to 30% of the total project cost as appraised by lending institutions which would finance the remaining 70% as loan assistance.”
How To Get Bank Funding for a Woman-Owned Business In India
Depending upon the business you want to set up, many financial institutions and banks have small business loan schemes available for Indian women.
The first of its kind in the banking industry in India, Bharatiya Mahila Bank was formed with a vision of economic empowerment for women in India.
The bank has designed many women-centric Mahila bank loans keeping in mind the core strengths of women to enable them to unleash their hidden potential, engage in economic activities and contribute to the economic growth of the country.
Most of the Mahila business loans, such as Govt loan for beauty parlour, are offered with a concession in the rate of interest for women customers.
Some of the Mahila loan schemes available under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust For Micro And Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) Scheme are:
- BMB Shringaar – Loan for beauty parlour/salon/spa
- BMB Annapurna Loan – Food catering
- BMB Parvarish – Loan for a daycare centre
- BMB SME Easy – Small business funding for women
You can find out more Bharatiya Mahila Bank loan details on the website.
Looking for a business loan for women in SBI (State Bank of India)? The Stree Shakti Scheme is an SBI loan for woman entrepreneurs, aimed at supporting entrepreneurship among women by providing certain concessions.
An enterprise should have at least 51% of its share capital owned by women to qualify for the scheme.
As per the concessions offered under this SBI business loan, the interest rate will be lowered by 0.5% in case the loan exceeds INR 2 lakhs, and the margin will be lowered by 5% as applicable to separate categories.
- You can avail loans up to INR 25 lakhs.
- If the loan amount is less than INR 10 lakhs, then no collateral is needed.
- Eligible units may be covered under CGTMSE, or other collaterals should be provided.
- Apart from business women, women who are working as chartered accountants, beauticians, doctors, and architects are also eligible for this loan.
- You should have taken part in the Entrepreneurship Development Programmes or EDPs organised by state-level agencies.
Dena Bank’s Dena Shakti Scheme is a Govt scheme for women for providing financing to women entrepreneurs by including certain sectors under the purview of the scheme so as to increase its outreach to women.
Women beneficiaries get a concession of 0.25% on the interest rate subject to certain conditions specified by the Bank.
This loan targets women who want to start a business in the manufacturing or agricultural sector, retail trading, education and housing, and also microcredit.
The sectors are covered on the basis of priority and include the following:
- Allied agriculture activities
- MSME for manufacturing and services industry
- Retail trade
The quantum of loans for all the sectors is in accordance with the directives of RBI for priority sector lending – such as 20 lakh for retail trading, 20 lakh for education and housing, and Rs 50,000 under micro-credit.
This scheme was launched by the Central Bank of India to help women start new businesses and also expand or upgrade their already existing businesses.
This is offered for micro and small enterprises that are engaged in manufacturing and service activity for handloom weaving handicraft, food-processing, garment making.
Professionals and self-employed women, doctors, chartered accountants, and engineers or those trained in art or craft, beauty clinics, fashion designing, beauty parlours, and canteens can also avail of this woman entrepreneur scheme.
- The maximum loan amount that can be obtained from this scheme is INR 1 crore.
- There are no processing fees
- Margin required is 20%.
- There is no need for collateral and guarantor as the loans are covered by Guarantee cover of CGTMSE.
The Punjab & Sind Bank Udyogini Scheme is one of the best ways to avail grants for women business owners.
It offers easy loan access on liberal terms and exclusive credit facility for direct agriculture activities. It also offers a loan for tiny SSI sector, business enterprises, retail traders, and self-employed professionals.
It can be availed by an individual woman, or as a group loan for ladies as long as they own not less than 51% of share capital. No collateral is required to avail a loan under this scheme, but for the hypothecation of assets bought with that fund.
The enterprises eligible for a loan under this scheme should have at least 51% shareholding by women shareholders.
- For loans up to Rs. 25,000, margin money is not required
- For loans up to Rs. 25,000 collateral is not required
- There is no processing fee
To aid in the financial empowerment of women, Syndicate Bank launched the product SyndMahila to extend credit facilities with a quantum of finance maximum of 5 crore rupees to women without a regular income.
This is what their startup business loan for women offers:
- Cash Credit to meet working capital requirements for existing or new units.
- Term Loan to set up a business, either manufacturing or service enterprise qualifying under Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises or to upgrade existing units.
Karnataka Bank Ltd. offers the Mahila Udyog Loan for women for the purpose of meeting credit requirements for any income generating activity.
Women can avail a maximum of up to INR 10 lakh as a loan either as an individual, or as women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs), or firms where at least 51% of the shareholding and controlling stake is held by a woman entrepreneur.
For small businesses such as setting up beauty parlours and salons, boutiques, and tailoring, Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) offers a scheme that gives women up to INR 10 lakh for furniture, equipment, working capital and day-to-day expenses to run the business.
The Oriental Bank of Commerce has two schemes designed for self-employed women and those who are keen on setting up a beauty parlour or salon.
- Scheme for Beauty parlours or boutiques
Want to set up a salon, boutique, tailoring centre or beauty parlour? Then you can avail a loan of up to INR 10 lakh under this scheme.
The loan amount can be used to meet any expenditure associated with setting up your business and for daily expenses.
- Scheme for self-employed women
As you a professional or self-employed woman who needs money for purchasing of fixed assets and other working capital?
You can avail a maximum loan amount of INR 5 lakh, with a repayment period ranging between 5 and 7 years.
This loan for women from the Tamilnad Mercantile Bank is suited for a wide range of entrepreneurial needs and exclusively tailored for women in business to give them that extra edge to succeed.
It can be availed of by women entrepreneurs who, individually or jointly, have a share of not less than 51% as shareholders of a private limited company or members of the co-operative society.
A loan may be taken for up to INR 10 lakh and the repayment period is fixed on the basis of income generation of the borrower up to the maximum of 7 years.
Primary security is in the form of hypothecation of assets and collateral security is also required to fully cover the advance.
The surprising thing about this loan for woman-owned business is that the bank requires (but does not insist on) a guarantee from the husband or father of the borrower.
We can only hope they eliminate that rather regressive stance from their loan requirements, as this disempowers rather than empowers women to make their own decisions.
Punjab National Bank offers a number of schemes for financial empowerment of women in India.
- PNB Mahila Udyam Nidhi Scheme
To assist women entrepreneurs in setting up new projects in tiny & small scale sector and rehabilitation of viable sick SSI units.
- PNB Mahila Samridhi Yojna
Four schemes have been launched under this umbrella for purchase of required infrastructure.
- Scheme For Financing Creches
The women will get assistance in the purchase of infrastructure for setting up creches and for recurring expenditure for one month.
- PNB Kalyani Card Scheme
This scheme is to empower farmers, landless labourers, agricultural labourers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, lessee farmers, by providing working capital credit requirements.
- PNB Mahila Sashaktikaran Abhiyan
Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD) Scheme provides an extension of credit by the bank and grant by the Govt of India to NGOs for lending to women either through SHGs or individually for setting up of small and micro enterprises in the non-farm sector.
Another example of a group loan for ladies is Jana Small Finance Bank’s Group Loan designed with the objective of helping women between the ages of 18 to 58 years meet their financial needs.
The minimum loan amount is INR 15,000 and the maximum amount is INR 50,000, and the loan tenure is for a maximum of 24 months.
Security is provided by the guarantee of a group of customers who are willing to guarantee each other for the repayment of the loan.
The processing fee is 0 to 1% plus applicable GST, and women can enjoy highly competitive interest rates ranging from 24% – 26% p.a.
Specially designed for rural women, the Sakhi Shakti Loans from IDFC Bank are special livelihood advancement loans only for women. As a group loan for ladies, it is tailor-made to help rural women in India grow their household livelihoods.
The loans come with a customer training initiative that makes women aware of the various aspects of Borrowing, Savings, Expense Management and Insurance.
Women can apply for a Sakhi Shakti Livelihood Advancement Loan, with any basic identity documents, like an Aadhaar Card, after which they undergo a group training that will educate them on all aspects and mechanics of the loan and its terms.
After successful completion of the training, the loan amount is disbursed to individuals in the women’s joint liability group.
This scheme of assistance to rural women in non-farm development (ARWIND) is being introduced mainly to support economic activities in the non-farm sector on a cluster or group basis by rural women.
This scheme provides women’s small business loans and grants to Registered Voluntary Agencies (VA), NGOs and other promotional organisations engaged in marketing the products of rural women.
The organisations should have been working for at least 3 years and have demonstrated a proven track record and experience in the production and marketing of rural products.
The VA or NGO should also satisfy the norms of the financing banks and NABARD prescribed from time to time.
Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) Loans For Women
Of course, the Indian government and banks are not the only places where you can get a loan for female entrepreneurs. A number of non-banking financial companies also provide loans for women to start businesses.
Cash Suvidha is a trading name of Usha Financial Services Pvt. Ltd., which provides women empowerment loans on a micro level to unbanked as well as underbanked women.
These microloans for women are specially designed for deprived, discriminated and economically neglected women and provided without sponsors, established banking histories or lengthy documentation.
They provide business financing for women to open beauty parlours, boutiques and other ventures with flexible and quick approvals and lower interest rates.
The loan tenure is from 6 to 24 months, loan amount from INR 50,000 to 3 lakhs and there are no pre-payment charges.
The requirements for the application are as follows:
- The first applicant must be a woman
- The applicant’s business must have a minimum operational history of 1 year.
- The applicant’s CIBIL score should be over 600.
For decades Indian women were encouraged to increase their involvement in the economic sector, but it has so far been in vain. Anything done this far has only marginally helped women stand tall and start their own enterprises.
But, since the last few financial years, the government and the Reserve Bank Of India (RBI), have been keen to walk their talk and introduced many new government grants for women and new business loans for women entrepreneurs.
The introduction of these Indian government schemes for women’s financial empowerment is already showing results and will, hopefully, bring a revolutionary change in the way the system works.
For further help and first-hand guidance, women can visit any financial institution near them and they will be happy to help you out.
You can also go through the website of MSME sector of the government of India, SIDBI and RBI for more information of these government loan schemes for women.
You can even file grievances directly with the PMO in case you face problems when availing of any of these schemes for women.
International Entrepreneurship Grants For Women
Besides the Indian government, there are a number of international organisations that offer grants and resources for women entrepreneurs looking for women-owned small business grants.
If you’re a social entrepreneur and your startup has a social or developmental focus, you can apply for one of these grants for female business owners.
Of course, since these are international organisations, the competition for these grants is much higher.
As the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, Ashoka Fellows champion innovative new ideas that transform society’s systems, providing benefits for everyone and improving the lives of millions of people.
The selection process is rigorous, but you’ll receive a life-long fellowship as long as you’re committed to championing new patterns of social good.
Ashoka Fellows receive a tailored stipend for up to three years, if needed, to dedicate themselves full time to the advancement of their idea.
They also get customized engagement opportunities that accelerate their impact, increased visibility and access to a global community of peers.
The Skoll Foundation focuses on providing grants to social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help solve the world’s most pressing problems.
They support large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurial organisations across the globe.
The Ford Foundation provides a wide variety of grants across several needs for both organisations and entrepreneurs. However, in a typical year, less than one per cent of unsolicited grant ideas result in funding.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of solutions – from government grants for women to microloans for women, to international grants – when it comes to financing your business ideas.
It’s up to you as a woman entrepreneur to determine which solution is the best way to finance your business and learn how to handle your business debt with clarity and confidence.
Did you fund or are planning to fund your growth with government loans for small business in India? What was your experience? Do share it with us in the comments below.
Disclaimer: All investments, including real estate, are speculative in nature and involve substantial risk of loss. The ideas and strategies on this website are based on personal opinion. They do not and should not be considered as professional financial investment advice and should never be used without first assessing your own personal and financial situation, or without consulting your professional investment advisor. We advise you to do your due diligence before acting on any information that we publish and do not, in any way, warrant or guarantee the success of any action you take in reliance on our statements or recommendations.
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About the author:
Priya Florence Shah is the publisher of Naaree.com and offers career coaching services for work-from-home moms. Sign up for her Free Job Interview Email course and learn secret interview strategies that only elite job applicants know about.
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