Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said New York City is putting bucks behind its belief in female entrepreneurs.
The mayor’s office is to unveil Friday a small business loan program to help women entrepreneurs expand their businesses.
The initiative, called WE Fund: Growth, will dole out a total of $5 million in low-interest loans, in amounts ranging from $25,000 to $125,000. The city is investing $2.5 million in the initiative and relying on various small business lenders to finance the roughly 60 to 80 loans in question.
Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic growth, said the new program builds on the city’s efforts to help women overcome bias in securing capital for their businesses.
“Women own 30 percent of the small businesses in the country, but only 4.4 percent of the small business loans that are made go to women,” said Glen, who is spearheading the program. “We want to attack this from every angle because women are absolutely discriminated against in terms of raising money.”
The WE Fund: Growth will issue traditional, asset-backed loans, but with with lower interest rates because the city is taking on a portion of the risk, Glen said.
“The city of New York is willing to say we believe in that women-owned business, and we’ll take that risk,” said Glen. “I’m willing to bet that these women are going to run good businesses and pay back their loans.”
LaChena Clark, who owns the laundry service Sudsy Water and a pet washing business called Mia’s Bathhouse for Pets, aims to be one of the first loan applicants. The Harlem resident would like to use the financing to add Sudsy Water wash-and-fold locations in various apartment buildings.
“Women are going into business now more than ever,” said Clark. “Anything that supports our entrance into entrepreneurship is great and comforting.”
The city recently started a crowdfunding campaign to help women business executives get microloans. And the city Department of Small Business Services plans to launch an initiative to extend more working capital to women, to help entrepreneurs fund day-to-day expenses without racking up credit card debt.