Managing Your Business
Small Business Grants for Women-Owned Businesses
It’s common for small business owners to struggle with managing finances. The inconsistent cash flows and unforeseen circumstances of running a business can hit the bank account hard. Making matters worse, women-owned businesses face extra challenges, including negative biases and stereotypes with potential customers, employees, and investors.
Fortunately, women-owned business grants and resources make it a little easier. A grant is money provided by the government or corporations. Unlike loans, you don’t have to pay back the money you receive from a grant. Female entrepreneurs can apply for as many grants as they are eligible for and get the money they need to succeed.
There are hundreds of federal, local, or private grants available for women business owners seeking financial support. Whether you own a 200-employee up-and-coming tech startup or a solo side hustle making custom Etsy jewelry on your dining room table, there’s a grant made for you. To help you get started, here are a few small business grants geared towards women-owned businesses.
Federal small business grants are offered by the government and help businesses in specific sectors. Most of these grants are designed for certain industries or environments, such as rural or industrial areas.
If you’re interested in applying for a federal grant, grants.gov is a great resource to get started. This database lists every federally sponsored grant available, making it easy to find one that you are eligible for. You can even narrow your search by filtering the different tabs. For example, there’s an option to filter for small business grants under the “eligibility” tab.
Before applying for one of these grants, you must obtain a DUNS number for your business. This is a unique nine-digit number used for business credit reporting purposes. You can request a DUNS number through the D&B request service and will typically receive your number within two business days. You’ll also have to register your business with the U.S. System for Award Management and create a grants.gov account.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers two competitive grant programs for small businesses that contribute to federal research and development — the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. These grants range from $150,000 to over $1 million in award money. To qualify, you must be a for-profit business with no more than 500 employees, among other eligibility requirements.
State and Local Grants
Some state and local governments provide grants to small businesses in their areas. These grants are typically less competitive than federal grants and include programs specifically for women-owned businesses.
Women’s Business Centers
The SBA has created more than 100 Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) to provide free and low-cost training for women who want to start and grow their businesses. This network of entrepreneurship programs includes various sources of funding to level the playing field for female entrepreneurs.
WBCs also promote the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program, an SBA program designed to help female business owners across the U.S. Some businesses can take it a step further by being certified as an economically-disadvantaged women-owned small business (EDWOSB). If you’re interested in applying for the program, you can use the SBAs Am I Eligible tool to get started.
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
The WBENC is a nonprofit organization designed to help female entrepreneurs succeed by providing networking and training opportunities. WBENC also offers financial resources, scholarships, and grants for women-owned businesses. From business competitions to educational programs, there are several options available for women to receive financial support.
After reviewing federal, state, and local grant programs, the next step is to research private grants. There are hundreds of private grants available from various organizations and businesses across the country, and many are only available for women-owned businesses. Here are 12 well-known private grants to consider as you begin your search.
1. Amber Grants
The Amber Grant is a monthly $10,000 grant designed to help women reach their entrepreneurial dreams. WomensNet founded the grants in 1998 in memory of Amber Wigdahl, a young entrepreneur. In addition to their monthly grants, there are two annual Amber Grants, the Marketing Grant, the Nonprofit Grant, Business Category Grants, and Mini Grants.
You only need to submit one application to apply for each WomensNet grant. Selected grant recipients are announced on the 23rd of each month, so keep an eye on your inbox.
2. Dream Big Awards
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts their Dream Big Awards every year to highlight the achievements of American small businesses. One grantee is named that year’s national Small Business of the Year and receives a $25,000 cash prize. Alongside the primary grantee, there are an additional 18 small business achievement awards.
The application form opens each year in March and closes in July. To apply, you must be a for-profit business operating for at least one year with less than 250 employees or less than $20 million in annual revenue during the past year. You can also submit a referral for another business you think should apply.
3. IFundWomen Universal Grant Program
IFundWomen is a go-to funding marketplace with resources for women-owned small businesses. As a member of IFundWomen, you can get immediate access to capital funding, small business grants, expert business coaching, and join a growing network of businesswomen.
IFundWomen offers a variety of grants for women-owned small businesses, including a Pay-It-Forward crowdfunding grant and grants from large partnered corporations such as Visa and Adidas. You can apply for any that you are eligible for on their Apply for Grants page.
4. SoGal Startup Grant
Black women entrepreneurs receive less than 0.50% of venture capital funding. The SoGal Foundation is on a mission to change that statistic with their SoGal Startup Grant. By teaming up with various sponsors, they provide $10,000 and $5,000 cash grants to Black women or nonbinary entrepreneurs. Selected recipients also receive lifetime access to the SoGal team for coaching and advice.
To qualify for the SoGal Startup Grant, you should self-identify as a Black woman or Black nonbinary entrepreneur. You should also have a legally registered business, plan to seek investor financing, and have a scalable, high-impact business idea to present.
5. Stacy’s Rise Project
Stacy’s, the household name for pita chips, supports small businesses with the Stacy’s Rise Project. The company selects ten female entrepreneurs to receive $10,000 in financial support and a direct line to PepsiCo and Frito-Lay leaders.
To be eligible, your business must be 50% female-founded and have between $25,000 and no more than $1 million in annualized sales. You must also be willing to participate in PepsiCo’s virtual Mentorship Program.
6. Tory Burch Foundation Fellowship Program
The Tory Burch Foundation offers a year-long educational fellowship program to help for-profit, women-owned businesses scale and grow. The Fellowship Program includes virtual classes, networking opportunities, a $5,000 grant, and a trip to the Tory Burch office in New York City.
If you’re interested in joining the program, you must be a woman-identifying entrepreneur who owns more than 50% of their business and a legal resident of the U.S.
7. Women Who Tech
Women Who Tech is a nonprofit organization on a mission to increase accessible capital to female tech entrepreneurs and close the funding gap. Since their founding, they have raised over $200 million and helped over 8000 women-led startups across the country.
The Women Who Tech Startup Grants Program is a fun competition designed to help fund women-led startups. Each grant period has a different theme, and female entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply if they fall into the selected theme. Five finalists will be selected to participate in a pitch competition and win a special grant for their business idea.
8. National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grants
The NASE is a nonprofit organization that provides resources to self-employed individuals and small businesses. Their yearly growth grants are worth up to $4000 and can be used for marketing, hiring employees, expanding facilities, and other business needs.
To apply for a NASE grant, you must be a member of the NASE for at least three months. A basic NASE membership is $120 per year and includes business management coaching, discounts on business products, and tons of other benefits made for small businesses. Applicants are required to submit a business plan that outlines a specific business need and how the grant will satisfy it.
9. FedEx Small Business Grant
The FedEx Small Business Grant is a national competition based on a voting system. Out of all applicants, 100 finalists are chosen then voted on for the top 10 recipients. Three grand prize recipients will receive a $50,000 grant, and seven first-place recipients will receive $20,000. Grantees will also receive up to $4000 in FedEx office and printing supplies, among other prizes. Additional grants are awarded for specific categories, such as “young entrepreneur owner” and “sustainability-focused business.”
To participate in the competition, you must be a for-profit business in operation for more than six months with no more than 99 employees. The business also needs a valid 9-digit FedEx shipping account number and a shipping and printing need.
10. American Association of University Women Community Action Grant
The AAUW is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing equity for women. Their Community Action Grant promotes innovative programs that encourage girls to choose a career in science or engineering before college. If selected, grants range from $3000 to $10,000 in award money.
Applicants can be individuals, AAUW branches, AAUW state organizations, or community-based nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The submitted application should include a proposal signed by an organization’s executive director. Projects focused on K-12 education, community college, or STEM will receive special consideration.
12. Halstead Grant
If you work in the jewelry industry, you might be interested in the Halstead Grant. This small-business grant helps jewelry entrepreneurs kick-start their studios. One business will win $7500 in startup capital and $1000 in merchandise. Halstead also recognizes five additional finalists with $250 to $500 awards, and all applicants receive a personalized feedback report from the judges.
To be eligible, you need to be a student or full-time designer pursuing a career in jewelry design. Applicants also need a cohesive metal jewelry collection that includes sterling or fine silver elements.
12. Nav Small Business Grant
The Nav Small Business Grant helps small businesses that need extra funding to get to the next level. Each year, five finalists are selected from the pool of applicants to discuss their business with the judges. One grantee will receive $10,000. The runner-up gets $5000.
To participate, applicants must fill out the form on Nav’s website and post on social media about their business and how the grant can help. Then, it’s up to voters and the judges to choose the grantees.
Whether you’re a growing firm or a garage startup, there’s a grant perfect for you. Read the requirements carefully before you apply, and be sure to submit your application on time. Most importantly, keep your hopes high and your fingers crossed — that grant might just be able to help you take your business to the next level.
Starting and managing a small business isn’t an easy job, but applying for grants can help remove some of the weight. If you need some extra motivation, check out these inspirational stories from some of our favorite female entrepreneurs.