Federal grant money is usually accessible to everyone in the US. Women who want to pay for their undergraduate or graduate school and give themselves the chance to pursue a professional job can apply for federal student scholarships.
Other federal government departments donate money to organizations for good causes, such as enhancing the position of women in business, the arts, or the sciences and technologies. These groups then create programs that are accessible to women. Both types of government grants require an application, a goal statement, and a guarantee that the money will only be used for its intended purposes.
In contrast to small business loans or other forms of debt-based finance that you must repay, business grants for women entrepreneurs are essentially free money.
Federal funding for women’s small businesses
Some federal subsidies for small-business owners are earmarked for particular initiatives, like R&D initiatives or firms in rural areas. Government funding often has to be used for something besides starting expenditures or ongoing expenses.
1. Go to the official website Grants.gov to register for support
A database of federally supported awards, including small business grants, is available at grants.gov. If you’re looking for free finance, this database is a terrific place to start, even though these awards are not only available to women-owned businesses but also the government invests in small business owned by men and other tribes.
To get support for your business, you must register at usgrants.org via the System for Award Management website, receive a Unique Entity ID for your company (a 12-character alphanumeric identification number), and create an account on Grants.gov to apply.
Apply the “eligibility” filter to the results on the left side of the page to see grants exclusively for small businesses.
2. Programs for Small Business Technology Transfer and Small Business Innovation Research
The SBA facilitates these two competitive programs, which award funds to small enterprises that support federal R&D. On their websites, eleven government departments—including those of Agriculture, Defense, and Health and Human Services—post possibilities for business grants. On the SBIR website, you can look up available grants.
You must operate a for-profit company with no more than 500 employees and fulfill all other eligibility standards to be eligible.
3. Microentrepreneur Investment Program (PRIME)
Although the SBA oversees a few grant programs, it rarely provides small firms with direct grant financing. However, the SBA offers federal subsidies to microenterprise development organizations through the PRIME program to give disadvantaged microentrepreneurs training, technical help and mentoring.
Nonprofit, private, state, local, or tribally operated organizations, particularly those that specialize in assisting women-owned small enterprises, are eligible for these awards. For instance, the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation received a grant of $200,000 in 2021.
State and local funding for women-owned small businesses
You may have better luck looking for grants for women at the local and municipal levels because federal small-business funds are scarce and frequently quite competitive. You’ll need to research to find specific grant opportunities in your area. Here are some resources to get you started:
4. Centers for Women’s Business
To assist female entrepreneurs with business development and access to funding, the SBA sponsors more than 100 Women’s Business Centers across the country. While some, like the California Capital Financial Development Corp., make direct loans, others can assist you in finding small-business grants and loans for which you could be eligible.
5. The Economic Development Administration
Resources for economic development geared toward fostering robust local economies are available in every state and many communities. For instance, New York has several economic development districts, like the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board, which aids regionally owned and operated enterprises by men and women in obtaining state and federal funding.
6. Centers for Small Business Development
Numerous Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) supported by the SBA are located at colleges and universities across the nation. SBDCs provide free, one-on-one business counseling services, including assistance with creating a business plan, analyzing markets, and locating funding options like grants, loans for startups, and crowdsourcing.
When competing in the public and private sectors, organizations like the New York SBDC provide tools expressly for women- and minority-owned businesses, such as the 8(a) and Minority and Women Business Enterprise Certification. These resources can assist firms in competing on an even playing field.
7. Centers for Minority Business Development
The MBDA runs a nationwide network of business centers to assist minority business owners in accessing money, obtaining contracts, and creating financial plans. You can work with your neighborhood MBDA business center to find the best funding sources for your company, including federal, state, and private small-enterprise grants.
The Enterprising Women of Color Initiative, or EWOC, is another program administered by the MBDA that aids minority women entrepreneurs. The EWOC gives women- and minority-owned businesses access to resources, events, and other possibilities.
8. Amber Grant
Every month, the Amber Grant Foundation gives $10,000 to a different company run by women. Each year, one of the 12 grant recipients receives an additional $25,000 after the year. The organization also provides a range of other grants all year round.
The application is straightforward: Include a brief explanation of your company, a grant funds plan, and a $15 application fee. The foundation’s advisory council selects the winners by looking for passionate women with exciting stories.
Additionally, this is an excellent choice if you’re seeking to start company grants for women because there is no time for business requirements. The United States and Canada-based companies are eligible.
9. The IFundWomen Global Grants Database
A grant marketplace, IFundWomen, provides cash and mentoring for women-owned enterprises. You only need to submit one application, and IFundWomen will match your application to the database when an enterprise partner adds a grant.
You’ll be informed and given an application invitation if your company matches. Previously, organizations like Visa, Neutrogena, and American Express were grant partners.
10. Cartier Awards for Women’s Initiative
Three grants are given out annually by Cartier to women-owned enterprises in nine different parts of the world. Various social, economic, and environmental development-related challenges are the focus of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards program, which is intended to encourage early-stage firms.
A $100,000 grant is given to the winning company, $60,000 goes to the runner-up, and $30,000 goes to the third-place company. Additionally, winners have access to executive coaching and various training sessions.
11. Grant for SoGal Black Founder’s Startup
Black women and nonbinary entrepreneurs can apply for startup funds from the SoGal Foundation and other corporate sponsors, including Bluemercury and Twilio. Grants are offered in either $10,000 or $5,000 increments.
Awardees also have lifetime access to the SoGal Foundation staff and fundraising support with an emphasis on investor finance. You can apply at any moment on the SoGal website because it is accepted continuously.
12. Contest for the Fearless Strivers Grant
Through the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, the Fearless Fund and Mastercard award $10,000 grants to Black women-owned businesses. The winners also receive one-on-one mentoring from a Mastercard small-business mentor and digital tools to help launch and maintain their firms online.
The Fearless Fund sponsors both a national grant program and city-specific grant competitions. You must operate in the United States, have 50 or fewer employees, and have annual revenue of $3 million or less to qualify for this small company grant.
It makes sense that winning small-business subsidies requires a lot of time and work, given the tough competition. Grants can be a fantastic method to finance your new or existing business if you’re up for the effort.