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9. Curves for Women
Curves for Women
Number of SBA loans : 371
Total dispersed: $36.4 million
Average loan size: $98,094
Failure rate: 16%

Women like the "no makeup, no men, and no mirrors" philosophy and 30-minute workout regime: Curves has grown exponentially since its first location launched in Texas in 1992. It now claims 10,000 locations in 70 countries and 4 million members.

The overhead costs are pretty low, but the investment can be risky. Curves' fast expansion goes hand in hand with a relatively high churn rate, and almost 16% of its SBA-backed franchise loans this decade failed. The company topped Entrepreneur magazine's annual "fastest-growing franchises" list in 2003 and 2005, but this year, it didn't make the top 100.



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Source: Loan data is from the Small Business Administration, covering loans made from October 2000 through September 2009. The failure rate represents the number of loans in liquidation or charged off, divided by the number of loans disbursed.
LAST UPDATE: Apr 26 2010 | 4:53 PM ET
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