Small Business Grants for Women
A grant is free money that is given to a person, business, nonprofit, or corporation from federal, state, county, or local governments, or private businesses or corporations.
Small business grants for women are a great way to grow your business with essentially free funding.
What is a Small Business Grant?
Grants do not require repayment of any kind and are usually provided by another company, nonprofit, or government agency.
Grants are formed to target businesses based on a variety of factors such as; women-owned businesses, minority owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses, types of nonprofits, and so on.
Other grants are created to provide relief for small businesses of all types during recessions, or in this case, a global pandemic like COVID-19.
In today’s post, we are going to cover some small business grant options specifically offered to women owned businesses.
If you are a woman looking to start or grow a business, these small business grants for women may be just what you need to get to the next level.
If you are a women entrepreneur or small business owner, read on to see if any of these small business grants can help your women owned business!
Small Business Grants for Women:
Grants.gov is the federal government agency’s landing page for all federal government grants across agencies.
It is a great resource for finding a grant opportunity, but small businesses may be disappointed to find that many of the grants are closed to them.
The site mainly includes grants for larger organizations like school systems, local governments, individuals, and nonprofits as well.
Federal grants available to small businesses tend to have specific requirements when it comes to business size.
You can read more about how the federal government determines which businesses qualify as “small” businesses in this article.
Receiving a government-funded business grant is tricky, so here are some general guidelines and requirements that the federal government uses to determine who they grant money to:
- Grants are not for “starting” a business
- Grant money is not to be used to pay off debt or cover general operating expenses
- State and local grants that are provided by the federal government may be awarded to organizations that assist with economic development.
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs
The SBA facilitates these two competitive programs, which provide grants to small businesses that contribute to federal research and development.
Twelve federal agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Health and Human Services, post grant opportunities on their websites.
You can search current grant opportunities on the SBIR website.
To qualify, you must operate a for-profit business with no more than 500 employees and meet other eligibility requirements .
The #GIRLBOSS Foundation Grant
Launched in 2014 by entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso, the Girlboss Foundation awards grants twice a year to female and female-identifying entrepreneurs.
Each grant recipient receives funding of $15,000. Grants are exclusive to female business owners working in design, fashion, music and the arts.
Selections are judged by creativity and innovation, business acumen and planning, and demonstration of a financial need.
GrantWatch is another database of grants of every kind, though it’s a subscription-based service you will need to pay for.
The site has a wide variety of grants offered by federal, state, and local governments, as well as foundations and corporations.
The site is constantly being updated, and grants that have closed are archived.
You can filter the more than 25,000 grants by category to narrow down the ones targeting small businesses like yours.
Small Business Development Centers
Small Business Development Centers are a business owner’s best friend.
Local, regional, state, and national offices mentor small business owners and help them understand business financing options, craft marketing strategies, and connect to other local business owners (and much more – these guys do it all).
SCORE is a nonprofit organization backed by the Small Business Administration that promotes free tools and mentorship for American small business owners.
Like SBDCs, SCORE is a free resource for entrepreneurs looking for help or expertise and they have many local experts that you can connect with.
A SCORE mentor may help you identify local grant opportunities, or review your pitch to help you make it as compelling as possible.
GrantsforWomen.org can help you find new opportunities for business or working capital help that may otherwise slip by unnoticed.
While this database is not business-specific, you can put in the time to find business grants and possibly help your business get off the ground.
Women’s Business Centers
The SBA sponsors about 100 Women’s Business Centers nationwide, designed to help women entrepreneurs with business development and access to capital.
Some, such as the California Capital Financial Development Corp. , lend money directly, while others help you find small-business grants and loans that you may qualify for.
Economic Development Administration
Every state and many cities have economic development resources focused on promoting strong local economies.
For example, California has several economic development districts, such as the Superior California Economic Development District , which provides financing to local entrepreneurs.
Eileen Fisher Grant Program
Eileen Fisher is a clothing line for women whose founder has a personal passion for helping women entrepreneurs.
All grants exceed $10,000 and are awarded to up to 10 applicants each year.
Businesses must be in operation for a minimum of three years and meet other various requirements.
The Amber Grant Program
The Amber Grant is a $10,000 cash grant awarded to qualifying female entrepreneurs each month.
At the end of the year, monthly grant recipients will have the opportunity to win an additional $25,000 grant.
FedEx Small Business Grant
FedEx awards up to $25,000 to 10 small businesses annually.
In 2017, the contest provided a total prize pool of $120,500.
Winners also receive money to use toward FedEx Office print and business services.
The application requires an explanation of your business, how you’d use the money, photos of your business and – this part is optional – a short video explaining your business.
To be eligible, you must operate a for-profit business with fewer than 99 employees and at least six months of operating history.
National Association for the Self-Employed
This nonprofit trade association awards $4,000 per month in growth grants to small businesses that can be used for a variety of business needs, including marketing, advertising and hiring employees.
Idea Cafe Grant
Idea Cafe offers grants of $1,000.
The quick and easy grant application is highly competitive, but if you have a great business idea that is “ground-breaking or a simple, but yet creative solution to an everyday problem, [Idea Cafe] would like to hear about it.”
This one is not specific to women, like the FedEx grant, but is very friendly to women applicants.
The last three winners are women, as a matter of fact. Learn more and apply .
American Association of University Women Community Action Grants
The American Association of University Women, or AAUW, offers Community Action Grants for one or two year community-based projects.
These grants are more focused on education than general business ownership and entrepreneurship, but if your business idea overlaps with any clearly defined activity that “promotes education and equality for women and girls,” you are in the running.
This grant is part of a long string of funding going back to 1972.
As it comes from a women’s business organization, it is only fitting that this grant is woman-focused.
Recent winners include programs like ECO Girls, a Michigan based organization that seeks to connect minority girls with the environment through a unique and exciting program.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Award
The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award seeks to advance women entrepreneurs all across the world, including North America.
They will review all applicants and choose 21 finalists, who will receive personalized business coaching prior to Awards week, media visibility, and a scholarship to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Program.
From the pool of 21 finalists, 7 laureates will be chosen and will each receive $100,000 in prize money along with one-on-one mentoring, while the 14 remaining will receive $30,000.
Get more information and apply with Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards .
Open Meadows Foundation
Open Meadows Foundation grants are biannual awards of $2,000.
The grant is awarded to smaller organizations with an operating budget of under $75,000 per year.
Grants are specifically for women-led projects that benefit women and girls.
The foundation looks for projects that are designed and implemented by women and girls, and focus on building community.
Those with limited financial access have the best odds of taking home the prize. Learn more at the Open Meadows Foundation website .
The Halstead Grant
This women focused grant is also industry focused.
The Halstead Grant is an annual grant awarded to an exceptional jewelry designed working in silver.
For 2018, the winner takes home $7,500 and $1,000 in supplies, plus a trip to Halstead’s offices in Prescott, Arizona.
This grant is certainly not for everyone, but it is great for women working with silver jewelry.
If that sounds like you, learn more and apply .
37 Angels Grants
A group of women investors came together to create 37 Angels. They recognize that just 13 percent of angel investors are women, and work to bring that to 50 percent.
37 Angels grants come with an accelerator program to bring your entire business to the next level.
While the capital inflow comes in the form of an investment, not a grant, it could be just what your business needs to grow and succeed.
Learn more at 37 Angels .
Belle Capital offers investments in early stage, women-led companies.
Like 37 Angels, they want a return on their investment.
The Belle Capital fund is targeted to invest in 10 to 15 high growth companies.
Like other venture capital firms, they want to participate and bring expertise to help grow your business.
If you are are a women who owns a business, small business grants for women are such a great way to take your business to the next level and help you grow.
They are an entrepreneurial dream and are worth pursuing.
We always like to tell woman owned business participants or minority businesses to take advantage of grant funding option resources when possible!
The grant competition can be high, but the odds are much better than grants that are open to all applicants.
Grants are a great financing option because you are essentially getting free money that you don’t need to pay back like a small business loan.
If you are looking for additional grant opportunities, be sure to checkout our list of grants for small businesses here.
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