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Bank Opens Women's Credit Line
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Wells Fargo Bank is opening a $1 billion credit line
for experienced businesswomen nationwide.
The lender program follows a recent survey that found one-third of female
business owners believed financial institutions had discriminated against
them as women, according to the National Association of Women Business
Owners, a partner in the loan venture.
Wells Fargo said the venture is meant to tap into a neglected but
flourishing sector of the economy. Nationally, an estimated 7.7 million
woman-owned firms employ 15.5 million workers and generate annual sales of
``We view this as a great business opportunity,'' said Terri Dial, a Wells
Fargo executive vice president. Other banks offer credit lines exclusively
for women entrepreneurs, but few are as large as Wells Fargo's.
The program will provide up to $100,000 unsecured loans to women applicants
who have run a profitable business for at least two years. That may mean
the program won't be of much use to new businesswomen, one small-business
``This sounds very good on paper, but the fact is that banks don't like to
lend to small businesses unless they see some kind of collateral or profit
history,'' said Cindy Turner, a Concord consultant. ``It would be very
interesting to track how much of that $1 billion Wells Fargo actually ends
up lending,'' Turner said.
The bank -- the state's second-largest -- expects most qualifying buyers to
have annual revenues of less than $750,000 and five workers or fewer.
Applications from male business owners will be accepted, for legal reasons,
but any loans to men won't be counted against the $1 billion.
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