Affirmative Action for Women? A Business Loan for New You

Here we have an excerpt on the topic of women in business (in the 1980’s) or really, the impediments to starting and financing a small business, in this case a fitness center for women.  Not so long ago….  Got me wondering, if affirmative action may be of benefit to minorities who have started at a disadvantage, how about women of all kinds, at a disadvantage in the business world pretty much forever?

From: Blue Eyes In Black Wonderland  (Nora and Anita are waitresses at the Grand Marsh Inn. Anita dreams of starting her own business with a partner, Shelly, while Nora hopes to work there when it opens.)
     She met Anita at the end of the shift, carrying their plates into the break room, mostly deserted by the time they got there. In spite of working so hard, Nora had little appetite for the pork chops in an apricot, mushroom sauce.

            “This thing is turning into such a headache,” Anita began, after a short prayer. “But I am determined, one way or the other, that this is going to happen.  We haven’t forgotten you.  This time next month the doors will be open, I promise.”

            “So, what’s the hold up, anyway?”

            “Oh, it’s too stupid.  I can hardly even say it without getting all steamed up.  I told you about the bank loan, right?”

            Nora nodded, chewing slowly. 

            “I’ve had my savings and checking account with this bank since I was ten years old.  I have saved up quite a little sum over the years, and I have never bounced a check.  But they won’t give me credit, not on my own.  They’re saying I have to have my father co-sign the loan for me.  I’m thirty-five years old!  Ugh!”

            Her eyes were blazing. But now Nora knew how old she was, if she was telling the truth….

            “What about that other woman, Shelly?” Nora asked.

            “She’s just recently divorced and all her credit was in her husband’s name.  They said we don’t have enough credit in our own names.  She’s got to get her father to co-sign, too.  It’s humiliating, and it’s wrong.  We’re not irresponsible.  We’re….we’re mothers, for God’s sake.”  Then she blinked. “Forgive me, Lord.”

            This was all very interesting to Nora, who had little knowledge of the business world. 

            “So, will they?” she asked. “Will your dads sign the loan?”

            ‘’Well, yes they will.  But that’s beside the point.  And that’s not even the worst of it. When we take over the lease of the store at the strip mall, the landlord says he won’t meet with us unless there’s a responsible male present.  Just in case ‘we don’t understand’ what we’re doing.  It makes me so mad, I could spit. But I keep having to tell myself, ‘keep your eyes on the prize’, just do whatever has to be done to get started, and give the rest over to Jesus.”

            Nora nodded in sympathy.  If it was as difficult as this just to get started, she wondered if they really were going to be able to make it.  For a moment she sat silently, wondering about this whole thing about credit and loans. And then there was an interesting image of Jesus sitting in at the meeting about leases and fitness equipment; maybe he could be the responsible male.

            “I hope it all works out,” she said. “Just keep me informed and let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

            “Thanks, sweetie.” said Anita. “I will.”