There are more than 13 million women-owned businesses in the US, four out of every 10 business entities, or 40 percent. It shows that women entrepreneurs are having a huge impact on the small business landscape nationwide. Moreover, these businesses generate more than $1.9 trillion in revenue every year.
However, to continue to be competitive and expand a business, female entrepreneurs must find funding for their ventures. Many apply for small-business loans, but most women prefer business grants. Federal, state and local, and also private grant programs give away millions of dollars in grants every year to small businesses and some of these grants are aimed specifically at businesses run by women.
If you’re a woman and currently have a small business, or you are only thinking about starting your own small business, or launching startups, it might be worth putting your time and effort into tracking down and applying for the grants. For you to help, we have prepared the guide reviews where we will take a close look at 10 popular grants for women business owners.
Federal small-business grants for women
If your business involves technology in some way, we recommend that you check out the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The SBIR funds small businesses in the research and development area. You can find current grant opportunities on the SBIR website.
To be eligible, you must operate a for-profit business with no more than 500 employees and comply with other requirements. Your company can earn a $150,000 grant to establish research and development goals. In addition, you can receive up to $1 million in a two-year window, if the goals are proven to be feasible.
Grants.gov is the biggest database of federally sponsored grants, including grants for small businesses. There are over a dozen federal government agencies participating. All government grants are open to both male and female business owners.
To apply, first, you should obtain a DUNS number for your business. Then you have to create an account at Grants.gov and check out their section on grant applicants to see if you meet all requirements.
3. The Girlboss Foundation Grant
Since 2014 the Girlboss Foundation has awarded grants twice a year to female entrepreneurs. Specifically, these semi-annual grants are for women in the fields of design, fashion, music and art. Each grant recipient receives funding of $15,000 to be used for a creative project. Keep in mind that the Girlboss Foundation doesn’t award grants to a business entity, only to individuals.
You can apply using their girlboss.com website. Submission dates are June and December.
State and local small-business grants
4. Women’s Business Centers
One of the ways that the SBA supports female entrepreneurs is through its support of a national center of women’s business centers, which offer businesses mentoring and networking opportunities, business development training, business plan development, and access to funding. Some of them can lend you money directly, while others can help you find small-business grants.
To find an SBA-supported Women’s Business Center, use the SBA’s lookup tool.
5. Small Business Development Centers
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are related to the local financing communities that are typically located at colleges and universities. SBDCs can guide you if there are any small business grants for women in your area from local corporations, philanthropic, or economic development organizations. They also offer free, personal business consulting, including help with developing a business plan and researching markets.
6. Economic development administration
There are economic development resources (EDAs) in every state and city. They are aimed at promoting strong local economies, therefore they provide financing to local entrepreneurs. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) can empower communities, so that entrepreneurs can launch companies and scale technologies.
Private small-business grants for women
7. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
The Eileen Fisher grant is funded by the popular women’s clothing retailer. They award grants up to 10 women business owners each year that vary from $10,000-$40,000. This grant is about initiatives specifically addressing environmental justice and rights of women in some way.
If your non-profit business has existed for at least three years, and you cannot have earned more than $1 million in annual profits, you can complete the application online for this grant.
8. Amber Grant
Launched in 1998, the Amber Grant helps women entrepreneurs who are planning to start small, local businesses. They are looking for women with passion and a good story operating their business in the U.S. and Canada. The Amber Grant awards $10,000 to a woman-owned business every month and at the end of each year, one of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $25,000.
All you have to do to apply is tell your story and pay a small application fee of $15.
Two other grant possibilities
9. National Association for the Self-Employed
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is a non-profit trade association that runs an annual grant program only to their 50,000 members. They award $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.
To qualify for their program you should provide a specific business need that could be aided by the grant and your business plan. You can apply online at NASE website.
10. FedEx Small Business Grant
The FedEx Small Business Grant isn’t a small business grant for women entrepreneurs only, but women small business owners are encouraged to apply. Every year they award up to $25,000 apiece to 10 small businesses. To choose the winner, FedEx allows the public to vote for their favorite company in the competition.
To apply you should have a business plan, or a short video explaining your business, operate a for-profit business with fewer than 99 employees and at least six months of operating history.