Ohio has $10M loan fund for women-owned businesses in budget

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time ever, Ohio has a $10 million loan fund dedicated to women-owned businesses in its operating budget.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed the budget earlier this summer.

The fund was made possible by the efforts of the Ohio Women’s Coalition. Its a non-profit organization that works towards improving the economic condition of women throughout the state of Ohio through advocacy with state legislators and corporate entities.

Tiffany L. Hollinger is the chair for the OWC. She said they saw women and minority owned businesses in Ohio needed help during the pandemic.

“So a group of women, we got together and thought ‘how can we really help to advance that mission?’ The governor and his department heard us, they heard us loud and clear,” said Hollinger.

This summer, when DeWine signed the state’s operating budget, included was the $10 million dollar women-owned business loan fund, and a matching fund for microenterprise minority businesses.

“Imagine a woman business owner being able to have access to the larger loan pool, and there was a piece of equipment that needed to be purchased, so that she can exponentially excel her business,” said Hollinger.

Loans starting out at $45,000 and maxing out at $500,000 will be available through the women-owned business loan fund. Loans between $10,000 and $45,000 will be available for the microenterprise loan fund for minority businesses.

A business that fits both criteria is Dornee Natural Body Luxuries founded by Torrian Denise 16 years ago.

Denise started the business in her basement, then opened two retail locations before transitioning into an e-commerce business over the course of the pandemic.

“This year I was able to transition into my new warehouse space here in Twinsburg,” said Denise.

Business is going well. Denise said sales have been up 25-30% over the pandemic.

But it was a tough road to get there.

“There is a difference in the way in which a woman has to do business, as it relates to how our counterparts have to do business,” said Denise.

One of the biggest barriers reported by women-owned businesses is a lack of access to capital to build and grow their businesses.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, less than 5% of venture capital funding went to startups solely owned by women as recently as 2018.

“A lot of times, women are not taken as credible,” said Hollinger.

Hollinger and the OWC’s goal is to eliminate those perceptions and help women business owners thrive.

“It is our goal to help work with them so they run out of money, so we can show and justify why this is needed and show the economic impact so that we can almost double or maybe triple those dollars for the future,” said Hollinger.

Denise has two employees, so she qualifies for both loans.

She said it’s definitely something she would look into to further invest into her passion.

“Currently the Dornee brand is experiencing growth. And with that, having access to capital would allow me to see that through whatever that looks like,” said Denise.

Application guidelines and loan terms will be available in the near future.

For now, if you’re interested in the loan fund, reach out to the Ohio Women’s Coalition.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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