|All content presented here and elsewhere is solely intended for informational purposes only. The reader is required to seek professional counsel before beginning any legal or financial endeavor.|
Small business grants for women help launch a range of unique business opportunities and ideas, yet they also help solve problems that impact many female entrepreneurs. For example, a start-up called Female Founders revealed that only 2.7% of venture capital funds went to women-owned businesses at last count, with the rest going to companies led by men. This means women-owned ventures are at a major disadvantage when it comes to accessing funding so they can grow.
What Types of Small Business Grants are Available to Women?
When it comes to women-owned small business grants, it's important to know that these grants can help you grow your business for free. This is due to the fact that, unlike small business loans, small business grants for women typically do not have to be repaid.
While competition for small business grants for women is stiff, there are so many grant opportunities to explore. Some of the best options for women from all walks of life are outlined below.
|Organization||Grant Amount||Eligibility||Learn more here|
|Amber Grant||$10,000 to $25,000||Available to all women-owned businesses who apply|
|Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards program||$30,000 to $100,000||Available to all women-owned businesses who apply|
|Comcast RISE Investment Fund||$10,000||Available to business owners who identify as Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian American, or a woman|
|FedEx Small Business Grant Contest||$30,000 to $50,000||Available to all small business owners including women|
|IdeaCafe Small Business Grants||$1,000||Available to women entrepreneurs|
|IFundWomen Universal Grant Application Database||Varies||Available to women-owned companies and women entrepreneurs|
|The GirlBoss Foundation Grant||$15,000||Available to women entrepreneurs in industries like the arts, design, fashion, and music|
|The Halstead Grant||$7,500 plus $1,000 in merchandise||Available to emerging silver jewelry artists|
|Grants.gov||Varies||Available to all women business owners|
|Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs||Varies||Available to all small business owners|
|SBA Women's Business Centers|
|Available to all women business owners|
|SBA Small Business Development Centers||Varies||Available to all small business owners|
|Asian Women Giving Circle||$8,000||Available to Asian American women and/or gender-expansive people and individual artists in NYC|
|Fearless Strivers Grant Contest||$20,000||Available to black women who are legal U.S. residents (including DC), 18+ and the principal owner of a U.S.-based small business|
|Ford Foundation for African American Women||Varies||Available to women entrepreneurs and business owners|
|Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center for Native American Women||Varies||Available to native and indigenous women|
|SoGal Start-up Grant||$5,000 to $10,000||Available to black female entrepreneurs and black non-binary founders|
|National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grants||$4,000||Available to self-employed women|
|Second Service Foundation||Varies||Available to eligible military spouses and veterans|
Private small-business grants for women
A range of private companies offer small business grants for women, and some of them are offered on a regular basis.
The Amber Grant is available to multiple women-owned companies every month of the year, and it has the option to apply for a monthly grant of $10,000, an end-of-month grant of $25,000, a start-up grant of $10,000 each quarter, two annual grants of $25,000, and more.
These grants are available to women-owned businesses who fill out an application and explain their business and its goals. From there, a board of directors select grant winners on a regular basis.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards program
The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards program has been offering grants for women entrepreneurs for 15 years with the goal of helping launch start-ups that work toward the collective good. This grant opportunity is worth $100,000 to a first place winner, $60,000 in grant funds to a second place winner, and another $30,000 in grant funding to a female entrepreneur who wins third place.
Other prizes awarded through the initiative include executive coaching and specialized training.
Comcast RISE Investment Fund
The Comcast RISE Investment Fund is available to small businesses who are at least 51% owned by someone who identifies as Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian American, or a woman. This funding opportunity comes in the form of $10,000 in grant funds per approved applicant.
Other requirements apply for female entrepreneurs to apply, such as being established in business for three years or less and having 25 or fewer employees.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
FedEx offers its own small business grant contest that's open to anyone, which makes it a solid option for those seeking business grants for women. This grant opportunity is worth $30,000 in funding for ten different winners each year, and one veteran winner will receive an additional $20,000 in grant funds from USAA Small Business Insurance.
Other perks for grant recipients include $1,000 in print credit at a FedEx location, a packaging consultation, a digital sales consultation, and mentoring opportunities.
IdeaCafe Small Business Grants
IdeaCafe Small Business Grants are typically offered in amounts of $1,000, and they're available to women in all types of business. You can apply for grant opportunities throughout the year, and you don't even have to prepare a complete business plan. Signing up as an Idea Cafe Regular is all that's required to become eligible.
IFundWomen Universal Grant Application Database
IFundWomen is a grant marketplace that aims to connect private companies with women entrepreneurs while offering other resources. Applicants interested in women-owned small business grants can fill out an application on this platform once and get connected with grant opportunities that match their needs.
Available grants through IFundWomen include the Visa She's Next Grant Program, the Johnnie Walker First Strides Grant Program, and more.
The GirlBoss Foundation Grant
The GirlBoss Foundation has awarded $130,000 in grants to female entrepreneurs since its founding in 2014. Grant winners are awarded with $15,000 in funding each, which they can use to grow their businesses in industries like the arts, design, fashion, and music.
GirlBoss grants are awarded bi-annually, so there are opportunities to apply throughout the year.
The Halstead Grant
The Halstead Grant offers $7,500 for women who are silvery jewelry artists. This grant is awarded once per year after a lengthy application process, and it also comes with $1,000 in merchandise and the chance for recognition in the industry.
The deadline to apply for this grant is May 1st each year, and the winner is selected by a panel of expert judges with experience in the silver jewelry industry.
Federal small-business grants for women
Some grants for women starting a business are offered through the federal government directly while others are facilitated by a government agency.
Grants.gov is a database that lists an array of grants for women business owners and others, and it offers a search function that makes it easy to locate grants for specific endeavors. Before you can apply, however, you need to request "Unique Entity ID" for your business and register to do business with the U.S. government through its System for Award Management website. You also need to create an account on the Grants.gov website to apply for grants your business might be eligible for.
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs
Powered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs offer various grant opportunities to small businesses and women-owned companies.
The website for the organization also offers a search function that lets you find grants based on topics of interest or the industry a business operates in.
State and local small-business grants for women
Some government grants for women are offered through state and local governments, including the following.
SBA Women's Business Centers
SBA Women's Business Centers exist to provide free or low-cost counseling and training for women who want to start or grow a small business. In addition to offering resources that help women get their business off the ground, these centers also offer access to credit and capital, including the chance to apply for various grants through the SBA and elsewhere.
SBA Small Business Development Centers
SBA Small Business Development Centers help small business owners and entrepreneurs scale and grow their businesses through various initiatives. For example, these centers offer problem-solving strategies, business counseling, and assistance with financial management and planning.
The centers also connect entrepreneurs with a range of local funding options and capital opportunities, including SBA grants for women.
Business Grants for Minority Women
Grants for minority owned businesses also exist, and they can be a good option for women entrepreneurs who need funding to grow or scale their company.
Asian Women Giving Circle
The Asian Women Giving Circle is an all-volunteer group of Asian women in New York City who share the joint goal of empowering Asian women and other underrepresented groups in their business ventures. Grants are for $8,000 each, and applicants can apply throughout the year for eight to ten total available grants. This grant opportunity is available to Asian American women and/or gender-expansive people and individual artists in NYC.
Fearless Strivers Grant Contest
This grant contest is one of the best grants for black female business owners available today. Offered through a partnership with Mastercard, this skills-based grant competition awards four black entrepreneurs with $20,000 in grants and various digital tools throughout the year.
Ford Foundation for African American Women
The Ford Foundation offers a range of grant opportunities that can be accessed by female entrepreneurs and especially women of color. According to the Foundation, 80% of their U.S. grants went to companies led by women, and 60% of grants awarded have gone to people of color. Current grant opportunities through the foundation are available year-round.
Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center for Native American Women
The Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center aims to assist native and indigenous women and provide them with as many resources as possible. Since its founding in 1988, the organization has worked toward preserving the local culture, ending violence against native women, and fighting for both reproductive and environmental justice.
Startup Business and Expansion Grants for Women
Some small business grants for women are geared specifically to start-ups and brand new women-owned companies that are finding their way.
SoGal Start-up Grant
The SoGal Start-up Grant is for black female entrepreneurs who need capital to get their start-up off the ground. Several grant opportunities are offered through this organization on an annual basis, and all funding opportunities are worth $5,000 to $10,000 each.
National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grants
The National Association for the Self-Employed offers several grant opportunities for small businesses who want to grow and expand. Each grant is worth up to $4,000, and approximately $1 million in grant funds have been awarded to recipients since 2006.
Military Spouse Business Grants
Several grant opportunities are available for women-owned companies run by military spouses.
Second Service Foundation
The SecondService Foundation (formerly the StreetShares Foundation) offers grant opportunities for eligible military spouses and veterans. All grants are offered through the foundation's Military Entrepreneur Challenge, and grant amounts vary.
Business Training and Counseling Opportunities for Women
A range of business training and counseling opportunities also exist for women entrepreneurs, and some are tied in with grant programs. This means women who apply can receive counseling, mentoring, and other types of support to help their businesses reach the next level.
37 Angels is a foundation that aims to help female entrepreneurs learn new skills and get the funding they need. This organization offers a bootcamp to help women learn the art of angel investing, as well as mentorship for female business owners.
Get Venture Ready Program
The Get Venture Ready Program (GVR Program) is a 12-week intensive training program for business owners who are also women of color. This program is offered in conjunction with JP Morgan Chase, and 50 women are accepted in each training cohort.
Eligible businesses must be at least 51% owned by a woman who identifies as Black or African American, and they must also have at least 12 months in business so far. Other qualification requirements include at least 12 months of steady business income and at least three years of revenue including projections for the coming year.
Second Service Foundation
The Second Service Foundation also offers services like speed coaching for entrepreneurs and pitch competitions for capital. These opportunities are for veterans and military spouses who are launching a start-up or small business idea, as well as eligible military women who are trying to grow an existing business.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)
The V-Wise program is a business training program for veteran women and military spouses who have a business idea, a thriving business, or a start-up that needs help to get off the ground. This training program requires a $75 fee, but it includes mentorship, a vast community network, and more than 20 distinct modules of training.
College Scholarships and Other Education Opportunities
Women seeking small business grants may also be in college, or they may be considering going back to school in order to learn new business skills. The following scholarship opportunities could be a good fit for women entrepreneurs.
Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation (AWAF) Scholarship
The Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation (AWAF) offers a scholarship for women pursuing training and careers in the automotive and mobility industry. Scholarships are awarded on a quarterly basis, and female students with a 3.0 or higher GPA are eligible to apply.
Eileen Kraus Scholarship
The Eileen Kraus Scholarship awards $5,000 to an exceptional woman within the state of Connecticut each year. This scholarship is available to first-year students at colleges and universities within the state, and it is awarded on an annual basis.
Harriet Fitzgerald Scholarship
The Harriet Fitzgerald Scholarship is worth $10,000 for one eligible applicant each year. This scholarship is for women attending an undergraduate women’s college in the United States or Canada. Applicants should have a GPA of 3.7 or higher and a SAT score of at least 1350 or a composite ACT score of at least 27.
Nucamp + Google Cloud Women in Tech Scholarship
The Nucamp + Google Cloud Women in Tech Scholarship is geared to women who are pursuing studies and future careers in a technology field. The scholarship is awarded in the form of 25% off tuition to a Web Development Fundamentals Bootcamp, a 17 Weeks Front End Web and Mobile Development Bootcamp, or a 22 Weeks Full Stack Web and Mobile Development Bootcamp.
Women Giving to Women Scholarship
The Women Giving to Women Scholarship is geared to women with diverse backgrounds who want to become community leaders. This scholarship is available to women with a GPA of 2.5 or higher who are enrolled in a college or university part-time or full-time. Applicants must also be a resident of Birch Run, Bridgeport-Spaulding, Frankenmuth, Millington, Reese or Vassar school districts in the Saginaw, Michigan area.
The FinImpact Women's Empowerment Grant in honor of International Women's Day March 8th 2023
The FinImpact Embracing Equity Women’s Empowerment Grant is an initiative to go a step further with our intended mission of not only providing the necessary informational tools but also to facilitate direct funding to a much deserving demographic of professional women.
The grant offers:
- US$ 10,000 grant for the first-place
- US$ 5,000 grant for the second-place
- US$ 2,500 grant for the third-place
Applications are open from now until May 1st 2023. The winner's announcement will be on June1st 2023.
To apply please follow this link. Please note that this is a one time grant in honor of International Women's Day and it is not offered annually.
How Do Business Grants Work?
Business grants are a type of funding that typically does not need to be repaid. This makes business grants better than small business loans that need to be repaid via monthly payments over time.
That said, competition for grants for women starting a business is fierce, so you may have to apply for several grant opportunities before you get any funding. Also note that thousands of applicants can apply for a single grant, so you may not hear back on every opportunity you pursue.
Challenges faced by women entrepreneurs
If you're a woman who is seeking funding for your business, data from the Federal Reserve’s 2021 Small Business Credit Survey shows you may also have trouble getting a loan from a bank or a traditional lender. In fact, the study found that only 12% of women business owners got the full amount of funding they applied for with small business lenders, compared to 14% of male-owned companies.
In addition to problems accessing capital and financing, other challenges faced by women entrepreneurs include the following:
- Limited access to professional networks: Many professional networks are still a "good old boys club," and women entrepreneurs may not be invited.
- Cultural and societal attitudes: Women entrepreneurs deal with patriarchal attitudes and misogyny on a regular basis.
- Gender pay gap: According to the United States Government Accountability Office, women earned just 82 cents for every dollar men earned in 2021.
- Limited access to business training and resources: Just like with professional networks, many business training opportunities are offered by invitation only and often only to men.
- Balancing family and business responsibilities: Today's women are expected to work full-time and still take on more than half of household responsibilities, including child rearing.
- Lack of upward mobility for women: Data from the United States Government Accountability Office shows that women made up 44 percent of the workforce in 2021, but only 41 percent of managers.
Grants for women entrepreneurs can help solve these problems and pave the way for more women business owners to succeed. They do this by evening the playing field for business owners who need assistance, and by providing funding and training opportunities for women in business.
How to Choose the Right Business Grant to Apply for?
With so many women owned small business grants available today, you'll want to limit the number of opportunities you apply for. Consider the following tips as you decide which grants to apply for:
- Compare grants based on your eligibility. The first step to narrowing down grants is comparing all your options based on eligibility requirements. For example, some grants are only available to businesses that have been in operation for a specific amount of time, whereas others are targeted to start-ups only.
- Consider grants for minority owned businesses. If you're a woman of color, look for small business grants for minority women that may be targeted to your demographic and industry.
- Look for industry-specific grants, Also look for grants that are targeted to the specific field your business operates in, whether that's technology, the automotive industry, coding, or something else.
- Search for grants that offer additional resources and training opportunities. Also look for grants that offer additional resources you personally need, which could include mentoring, business planning support, and more.
- Consider the application process. Finally, take stock of what each small business grant for women actually requires when you apply. While small business grants with a simple application process are easy to try for, you'll want to be selective when it comes to opportunities that have a long list of hoops to jump through.
Tips on Applying for Women Business Grants
- Align your proposal with the grant objective. Make sure your grant application is written specifically for the opportunity you're applying for, and that your message is targeted at the organization itself. If you're applying for grants for minority owned businesses, for example, make sure your mission statement explains how being a minority impacts your ability to grow and expand your company.
- Be specific. Be as specific as possible when you explain what you plan to use the funding for and how a small business grant could help your business thrive.
- Check all eligibility requirements. Read over all grant eligibility requirements so you don't spend time applying for grants you don't meet the requirements for.
- Proofread your application carefully. Read over your grant application several times, and ask another trusted friend to do the same. This can help you avoid typos and formatting errors that can make your application seem unprofessional.
- Try to make your submissions stand out. Make your submission unique and thought-provoking if you can, but without being cheesy. You want the professionals who read over your application to remember you, and to feel that you could truly benefit from funding.
What You Can Use Business Grants for Women For?
Like with other types of business funding, some grants have limitations when it comes to how the money can be used. For example, some business grants for women can only be used for initial start-up expenses, whereas others are meant to be used for marketing purposes, training for the business owner, or product development.
While funds from business grants can often be used for any purpose that helps your business grow, you'll want to make sure you understand the limitations of funds you receive before you accept payment.
Business Grant Repayment - What You Need to Know
Most business grants do not need to be repaid, and this is what helps grants stand out from other types of business funding. However, that doesn't mean the grant recipient can accept the grant money without any strings attached.
The following tips for women entrepreneurs break down what may be expected you after you are awarded a small business grant for women:
- Understand the terms and conditions of the grant. Since every funding opportunity for women entrepreneurs is different, you should make sure you understand grant repayment terms if required. Chances are high you will not be asked to repay any part of the grant funds you receive, but you should double check so you know for sure.
- Keep accurate records. Keep records of where and how you spent the small grant funds that were awarded to you. Keeping this information could help you qualify for small business loans later on, or prove your grant funds were not mishandled or squandered.
- Report regularly (if required). The organization that provides you with grant funding may want to receive regular updates on your progress, or an accounting of how the money is spent.
- Maintain a good relationship with the grantor. It may be possible to receive multiple small business grants from the same organization, or that you'll be referred to additional grant opportunities by the grantor. In either scenario, it pays to maintain a positive relationship with the organization that awarded you with funding.
Alternatives to Small-Business Grants
Whether you plan to apply for start-up business grants for women or not, there are additional funding sources to be aware of. Your best options include the following:
- Small business loans for women: Small business loans can help anyone get funding for their company, and repayment terms can be flexible. Consider small business loans from the best business lenders, as well as loan options through the SBA.
- Microloans: Platforms like Kiva help small business owners apply for microloans that are paid by investors around the globe. These small loans can be used for a number of purposes, including the purchase of inventory or investments in product development.
- Crowdfunding: You can also try to get your loan crowdfunded, which essentially uses small amounts of money from a range of small investors.
- Angel investing: It may be possible to get your business funded through angel investors, which are wealthy entrepreneurs who invest in various start-up companies.
- Venture capital funding: Venture capital funding can also be accessed by small business owners, although it can be difficult to get access to financing without some sort of connection.
- Business lines of credit: Many lenders offer business lines of credit you can borrow against when you need to. This type of funding lets you borrow only what you need with monthly payments that are based on your loan amount.
Business Mentoring Organizations That Could Help
There are quite a few business mentoring programs that can help women entrepreneurs with companies in all stages of operation. Some of the best mentoring organizations out there today include the following:
- 8(a) Business Development program from the SBA
- National Women’s Business Council
- National Association of Women in Construction
- National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses (NAWRB)
- National Association of Women's Business Owners (NAWBO)
- Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO)
- Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) from the SBA
- Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Federal Contract program
- Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
- Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)
- Women's Presidents' Organization (WPO)
There are many grants for women entrepreneurs available today, although some of them are geared to women in certain groups. For example, you'll find a range of Latina business grants, Native American female business grants, grants for Black female entrepreneurs, and other small business grants for minority women.
Any of the grants featured in this guide could be exactly what you need to grow your company or start a new one, but don't take our word for it. Consider applying for some of the business grants for women you may be eligible for, and your business could become an overwhelming success in no time.