Entrepreneurial ladies, are you looking for a list of small business grants for women starting a business? This list of business grants, with links to applications and guidelines sites, will help you start up your new women-owned business.
Men, keep on reading because many of these grants are not exclusively for women. You too could be eligible for one of these business grants to start your business.
In the fast-changing modern market, entrepreneurs need access to new funds for new product ideas, research funds, and raw materials and inventories.
While large businesses that have fared well can rely exclusively on their own profits to reinvest. However, to grow, all businesses need loans to endure rough business quarters. This is particularly true for smaller businesses.
Though it can be challenging enough for startup businesses to become profitable, small companies led by women are at a disadvantage.
Data from the loan market indicates that female entrepreneurs are 5 percent less likely for conventional small business loans. This tendency also pertains to women who apply for the government-supported loans of the Small Business Administration.
Normally, women who manage to secure a loan also receive smaller amounts than male borrowers. This means that companies with female owners struggle to receive credit, which is an essential part of becoming competitive in any market.
Economists, sociologists, and market analysts have analyzed many elements to learn why women entrepreneurs struggle to receive credit. Some researchers think that women might be more reluctant to financial risks than men, and others say that girls simply apply for fewer loans.
These are important topics to take into account, but the reduced loan amounts for girls clearly demonstrate that bias is a vital element. Fortunately, many lenders and corporations have confessed to female entrepreneurs’ advantages. They’ve attempted to decrease gender inequality and build the market with these small business grants for women.
Need help calculating your startup costs?
Learn how to correctly estimate your startup budget and capital needs – including costs list by industry in my guide here
Small Business Grants for Entrepreneurial Women
Federal Government Grants
This website is a comprehensive directory of federal grant funding programs. Thousands of business grants are listed from all of the US Federal government grant-making agencies including the SBA Small Business Administration, USDA Department of Agriculture and DOE Department of Energy. Open to men and women entrepreneurs.
You can search for grants using their search engine and filter results by; opportunity status, eligibility, and category (such as agriculture, arts, business and commerce, community development, education, environment, and science technology. Plus you can sort by posting date range of closing date.
The site Grants.gov is a goldmine of information on how to find relevant grants, learn about the grant process, how to apply for business grants and track your applications.
NOTE: You can search for grants free, however, in order to apply for federal grants you will need to do these three things first – all are FREE:
- Get a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet for your business
- Register with the US Government System Award
- Set up an account at Grants.gov
Yes, there’s an app for that too!
Grants.gov recently launched a mobile app. Check out this video on how to search for business grants on your cell phone.
USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant
These business grants are issued by the US Department of Agriculture to fuel rural area economic growth. Requirements are that your business must have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in annual gross revenue.
There are many different grant programs including:
- Rural business development grants – For rural public entities including towns, non profit corporations and institutions of higher education.
- Rural microentrepreneur assistance program – For businesses located in an eligible rural area (town population fewer than 50,000 residents) with less than 10 full time employees, nonprofits and federally recognized tribes.
- Value added producer grants – For agricultural producers to create new products and expand marketing opportunities with value-added activities related to processing.
- Rural Economic development grant program – For business incubators, community development groups. Funds can be used for startup venture costs, equipment, working capital and business expansion.
- Rural energy for America program renewable energy systems – For agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems to make energy efficiency improvements.
The InnovateHER Challenge is sponsored by the SBA – US Small Business Administration. This women-only business grant offers new entrepreneurs to the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a group audience and a panel of judges. It is like a real-world version of the TV show Shark Tank. A $70,000 grant is the national winners prize that they can use to turn their dream of entrepreneurship into reality.
Small Business Innovation Research
For those who get a cutting-edge idea that you think will satisfy the requirements of the current market, apply for a Small Business Innovation Research grant. SBIR STTR is America’s seed fund powered by the SBA.
Your company can make a $150,000 grant to set up research and development objectives. If the goals are demonstrated to be feasible, you can get up to $1 million at a two-year window.
SBA Office of Small Business Development Centers
This division of the SBA promotes entrepreneurship and small business growth with funding, business grants, education and support via their national network of Small Business Development Centers.
Currently, there are 63 centers, one or more in each state, including Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa and the US Virgin Islands. Find your nearest Small Business Development Center here
Business grants are awarded which are often matching fund contributions from state legislatures, private foundations, state and local chamber of commerce, public and private universities, vocational and technical schools and community colleges.
SCORE Office – Service Core of Retired Executives
Another division of the SBA, SCORE primarily focuses on education and mentoring. Plus it also connects entrepreneurs with funding sources, offers collateral guarantees, helps the business owner apply and then provides expert financial advice.
Corporate Business Grants
FedEx Small Business Grant
The FedEx corporation grant program has proven particularly fair on grant distribution to women. To pick the grant recipient, FedEx enables the public to choose for their favorite entrepreneur to win.
The company with the most votes receives a $25,000 small business grant, plus they get millions in free publicity from FedEx’s media channels. Learn more and apply for business grant here
Chase for Business – Small Business Expansion Entrepreneurs of Color Fund
Banking leader Chase provides over $3 million in grants to 20 companies every year to celebrate American small businesses. The sponsors are known for their commitment to progressive goals in the past, and women and minorities have successfully acquired financing.
Kimberly Clark – Mom Inspired Grants
Huggies diaper manufacturer offers its Mom Inspired small business grants to ladies who create innovative items that are “inspired by the joys of motherhood.” Every year 12 moms are awarded $15,000 business grants. Huggies parent corporation runs the Kimberly-Clark Foundation.
The Halstead Grant – Jewelry Business
If your small business idea is selling jewelry made of silver, you could get a Halstead Grant. The company was founded over 40 years ago and knows that the vigor of their industry is fueled by new talent and creativity.
Each year, a $7,500 is granted to a jewelry designer who displays outstanding talent with silver jewelry creations.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
This grant is awarded to female business owners from all over the world. Focus is on early-stage women entrepreneurs. 18 finalists are selected, of whom 6 get $100,000 in grant funding with expert counseling from top executives and the remaining 12 finalists each get $30,000 grants.
Learn more and apply here
Idea Cafe Small Business Grant Program
Idea Cafe offers grants to small business owners that are “deserving entrepreneurs” according to their mission statement. Throughout the entire year, you are able to apply for grants that are $ 1,000 each that come out of their own pockets.
They run a website that supports beginner entrepreneurs, and new business owners with advice, tips, and free resources. It is super easy to apply and there is no charge to apply.
Foundation & Non-Profit Business Grants
Open Meadows Foundation Grants
The Open Meadows Foundation awards business grants to women on a biannual basis to promote justice in gender, race and economy. To qualify for this grant, your business must promote racial, sex or economic equality in some manner.
Your company’s operational budget can’t exceed $75,000. If your organization is selected by the board, you can make a $2,000 grant.
37 Angels Small Business Grants
37 Angels is an association that recognizes the disadvantages that women entrepreneurs have encountered in the small business loan market. They are a community of women investors and venture capitalists whose mission is to educate and support entrepreneurs.
To help fight this issue, 37 Angels gives women small business grants from $50,000 – $150,000 with a typical investment of $25,000.
Belle Business Capital Grants
Belle Capital offers grants to companies headed up by women for early-stage funding needs. They specifically focus on the underserved capital markets in the US, which includes female entrepreneurs. The grant sizes vary.
In addition to money to launch and grow your business, you get insider access to an expert angel investment fund with talented professionals to be your mentors.
Grants for Minorities to Start a Business
USDA Social Disadvantaged Groups grant
This grant is to provide technical assistance to people who are socially disadvantaged (individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic or cultural bias within American society because of their identities – source ).
Funds can be used for feasibility studies, business plans, strategic planning, and leadership training.
Minority Business Development Agency
These grants are issued by a department of the US Department of Commerce specifically to fund the growth of minority-run small businesses. It connects business owners to finance resources, elected officials, US federal contracts and marketing opportunities. Find your local MBDA Business Center for available grants by searching on this website.
National Minority Supplier Development Council
This group of corporate executives works to advance business opportunities for certified minority businesses and liaisons with them to corporate decision-makers for supplier diversity. They match up 12,000 minority-owned businesses with corporate members who want to purchase their products and services.
Plus they operate and manage the Business Consortium Fund, a not-for-profit group that exclusively finances and supports minority firms.
SBA Small Business Development 8 (a) Business Program
The federal government program to grant at least five percent of all federal contracts to disadvantaged businesses annually. The be grant-eligible at least 51% of the company must be owned by US citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged (which included minorities).
To be awarded contracts you first must get certified as an 8 (a) small business. Find out if your business is eligible by answering these few questions in the SBA website
Operation Hope – Small Business Empowerment Programs
This program is aimed at helping entrepreneurs located in low-wealth neighborhoods, which include some minority communities. A 12-week business training program, financial counseling and small business finance options are included.
AAUW Grant – American Association of University Women
If you have a college degree you can apply to get a Career Development Grant which will fund career changes, reentering the workplace after children and starting a business.
Preference is to women of color and those women advancing their education in nontraditional fields. Apply here
Grants for Single Parent to Start a Business
Amber Grants are fitting for women entrepreneurs who plan to launch small businesses in their local area.
Every month, one woman-owned company is selected for a $500 small business grant. At the end, one of the monthly winners is chosen for a $2,000 grant. The application process is simple, just explain the idea of your business here.
SBA US Small Business Administration – Office of Women’s Business Ownership
This special division of the SBA is focused on empowering women entrepreneurs with education and support. Grant opportunities are available for women-owned companies.
They operate Women’s Business Centers throughout the nation (find your local center here) Small businesses that get assistance from WBC (Women Business Centers) have a dramatically higher rate of success than those without support.
The Eileen-Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
Female entrepreneurs that are in need of funds to expand a company may apply for the Eileen-Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant. Eileen-Fisher awards five ladies with grants up to $100,000.
To be considered for this grant, yours must be a woman-owned firm that promotes environmental and social change and is past the startup phase. Your company should have existed for at least three years, and you can’t have earned more than $1 million in yearly profits.
Apply for business grant here
Grants for Veteran to Start a Business
Veterans Business Outreach Center Program
There is a special dedicated division of the SBA to support veterans called the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD). It exclusively promotes veteran entrepreneurs, reservists, active-duty service members, service-disabled veterans and their dependents and survivors.
They connect veteran small business owners with federal contract procurement opportunities and commercial market supply chains.
This program is administered through a network of national Veterans Business Outreach Centers – find your nearest office here.
Vets First Verification Program
This program of the US Department of Verteran Affairs, is part of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
The program sets aside a percentage of lucrative federal contracts for firms owned by veterans and service-disabled to fairly compete and get contract awards. Learn more and how to apply here
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Program
Disabled veterans are given award preference for up to 3% of all federal contracting dollars annually. These are set-aside contracts and your veteran owned firm can also compete for contract awards under other SBA programs.
Qualifications for the disabled veterans program include:
- Small business – Typically under 500 employees. The SBA has different designation depending upon industry. See if your business qualifies by taking this quiz
- Majority owned by Service-disabled veterans – 51% or more of the firm must be owned by one or more service-disabled veterans.
- Operated by Service-disabled veterans -Daily business operations and management decisions must be make by service-disabled veterans
- Disability to be Service Connected
Read more about your eligibility and application requirement here
The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL)
This program grants loans of up to $2 million to meet business costs due to the loss of an essential employee called to active duty in the Reserves or National Guard.
Boots to Business
Offered by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Active duty service members, National Guard, Reserve, all veterans and spouses are eligible. This entrepreneurial education training program teaches small business owner skills.
The program consists of multiple types of veteran business support including:
- Boots to Business – For those exploring business ownership or self-employment. Teaches entrepreneurial fundamentals and resources to access startup capital funds taught on military installations. Upcoming class schedule and details
- Reboot – The Boots to Business class off of the military installation for veterans of all eras and military spouses. Here you will learn foundation knowledge required to launch a business including how to develop a business plan, access available resources, technical assistance and government contracting opportunities. Upcoming class schedule and details
- B2B Revenue Readiness – Continuing entrepreneurial training and support for those who completed the Boots to Business or Reboot, delivered online. There is no cost for this cost to veterans. This six-week online classroom program takes students from business ideas to ready to execute business models. Upcoming schedule and details.
- Follow-On Support – Continue to get support on your entrepreneurial journey at Veterans Business Outreach Centers, SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers (find your center) and the SBA Learning Center online courses.
Learn more about the SBA Boots to Business program for veteran entrepreneurs in this video
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-Wise)
Designed to help women veterans become successful entrepreneurs in three phrases. Starts with a 15-day online training course, 3-day in person conference and ongoing professional business mentors all focused on training female vets to launch and grow their own business. Learn more about this business support here
Empowering veterans in business, and their families, by giving startup grants, connecting funding sources, personal mentors and connection to a vital veteran entrepreneur community for ongoing support. Apply for a veteran business grant here
Veteran Small Business Award by Street Shares Foundation
This private, nonprofit foundation provides educational programs, financial grants, mentoring coaches and holds networking events for military entrepreneurs nationwide. Their financial grant program gives $25,000 to veterans, military spouses and family members.
Applicants must be a US citizen, over 21 years old and own at least 51% of the business entity described in the application.
The grant funding awarded is approved for veterans and military spouses who are low-income or otherwise lack financial means and have a goal to start or grow an early-stage business or nonprofit venture. Apply for these veteran business grants here
Grants for Disabled Person to Start a Business
US Department of Health and Human Services
This federal government agency offers funding grants for many different needs of individuals, families and communities including disabled persons. They award billions of dollars in grants to promote economic growth of those physically and socially disadvantaged.
Read about current funding opportunity announcements here
Office of Acquisition and Grants
This department of the federal government, Social Security Administration is the procurement office for grants, which can be used for business startup capital, including Old Age Survivors programs, Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program.
In addition they give research and demonstration grants which include specific programs for the disabled such as Retirement and Disability Research Consortium (RDRC) and
Analyzing Relationships between Disability, Rehabilitation, and Work (ARDRAW).
Plus they award service grants to support disabled to return to work and gain self-sufficient including these programs Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program (WIPA)
Protection, Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) and
Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries (SPSSB/Rep Payee.
Read more about these grants and how to apply here
Financial Aid for Disabled Persons Grants
If part of your entrepreneurial plans includes returning to school or learning a new trade, there are grants and financial aids available for you. The US law – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – main intent is to make sure that the 50 million disabled Americans have more accessibility and mobility in the United States.
The benefits include grants and free disability scholarship awards through universities and agencies. Get more information and learn how to apply here
Grants for Felons to Start a Business
Inmates to Entrepreneurs
This non profit group helps people with criminal backgrounds to start their own business with free courses and online resources.
Their vision is to reduce the rate of recidivism and reentry back into prison by teaching a way out to financial security and business success. They believe that entrepreneurship is the best way for felons to succeed because it helps them rise above the systemic discrimination many ex-cons face in the job market.
Learn more about the online resources, correctional facility workshops and in-person courses to help you start your business here
Federal Pell Education Grants
If you want to learn new skills or a vocation in which to use to start your own company, then a federal education grant could be ideal. The Federal Pell grant is available for undergraduate students who have financial needs – is not a loan and thus does not need to be repaid.
The Pell Grants are the largest source of federally funded grants that are awarded solely on financial needs. Your academic grades are not a factor. The maximum Pell Grant award for 2020 is $6,195. Learn more and apply here
SBA Microloan Program
This SBA funding program grants up to $50,000 to small businesses and not for profit childcare centers both startup and expand operations. An average microloan is $13,000.
These microloan grants can be used for startup capital, inventory, supplies, machinery, equipment, fixtures and furniture. Get more information and learn how to apply here.
In conclusion, this list demonstrates that there are many organizations, corporate, private and government, that are offering grants for women to launch, build and innovate in business.
Apply for a small business grant today. Good luck future entrepreneur.
BONUS: Check out this of small business loan options for women from the experts at Chamber of Commerce
Discover low-cost startup business ideas here
My Favorite Business Startup Tools
To help you start your business right, I recommend that you use the tools I use every time I launch a successful new venture.
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