It can be difficult to fund a small business, whether you’re just starting or you’ve been in the game for decades. For women and minorities, starting and running a business can be even more challenging. The lack of funding often is a major hindrance. Thankfully, there are grant programs that can help resolve this problem.
Women Business Owners
In the past few years, the number of women-owned businesses has exploded, and it is expected to continue to increase. Female entrepreneurship statistics for 2021 show that:
- Women in the US-owned 27% more small businesses than last year.
- In the past year, women-owned firms saw twice the growth compared to other businesses.
- Approximately 10.1 million people worked for women-owned businesses.
- Women own 31% of small businesses in the US.
- Over 17% of black women plan to start or run a business.
- 16.6% of American women are entrepreneurs.
- About 14% of women-owned businesses have between 11 and 50 employees.
Women-owned businesses require capital, just like any startup. Small business grants are an alternative to traditional bank loans or other types of lending.
Why Are Grants Important?
Financial backing is necessary for even the most creative and well-planned business ideas to succeed. Insufficient capital can kill a startup or prevent the expansion of a fledgling business. Unfortunately, data indicates that women entrepreneurs may have difficulty qualifying for traditional small business loans, and when they do, the funding may be less generous than that received by others.
According to Biz2Credit’s 2020 Women-Owned Business Study:
- Due to supply chain disruption, the cost of doing business rose significantly in 2021, particularly labor costs, fuel costs, and raw materials and inventory prices.
- Supply chain shortages negatively impacted the earning potential of small businesses.
- Average annual revenue for women-owned businesses dropped by 4%.
- Average earnings of women-owned businesses decreased by 26%.
- The average loan size for women-owned businesses was 33% lower than for men-owned businesses.
- These economic pressures hurt women-owned firms especially hard due to a 3% increase in operating expenses.
This is where grants come in. Grants are like gifts instead of a traditional loan, which you must pay back with interest. If you qualify, you get the money and don’t have to pay it back. Grant funding can be a great opportunity for women who have challenges qualifying for traditional funding and equal opportunities to compete in the entrepreneurial playing field.
How Grants Work
Grants are preferable to loans since they’re basically. The application process can be long and intensive and often involves a significant waiting period. You’ll also have to meet specific requirements to qualify.
The grantor will determine the qualifications and stipulations of the grantee. The requirements for state grants may not be as stringent, and more options may exist than with federal funding. Each state will have a website with a business section detailing available grants for women and minority businesses.
Many states also have grant programs for women-owned businesses in traditionally male fields, like construction. So, start with your state’s website and check out available options.
Grants for Women-Owned Businesses
Check out the following grant options available to women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses.
The Amber Grant Foundation
Amber Grant Foundation was formed in 1998 to provide grants to women-owned businesses. The Amber Grant Foundation awards a $10,000 grant to a women-owned business each month. In addition to the monthly grant award, one of the awardees will receive a larger grant amount ($25,000) at the end of the year. Awardees of the grant are selected by the board and rewarded for their entrepreneurial ideas and passion.
USDA Rural Business Development Grants
USDA Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG) are federal funds that provide technical assistance and training to rural businesses. RBDG grants typically range from $10,000 to $500,000, although there is no maximum.
If you are eligible for this USDA grant, your company must earn less than $1 million per year (gross revenue) and have fewer than 50 new employees. On the USDA website, you can find information on how to speak with a Business Program Specialist in your state if you think your business may be eligible. If you need assistance completing forms and applications, the specialist can provide you with guidance.
Asian Women Giving Circle Grants
The Asian Women Giving Circle (AWGC) is a network dedicated to raising funds for Asian American women-led projects. Asian American girls, women, and families situated in New York City, are eligible to apply for funding for projects related to arts and culture.
The grant committee may award grants up to $15,000 per project. Funding availability determines how many grants are awarded. To apply, all you have to do is fill out an application online. Applications for the 2022 cycle have already closed, but the program resumes if additional funds become available.
Moms running employers-based small businesses with two or more employees are eligible for micro-investments from Kitty Fund. Kim Folsom, the CEO of Founder’s First, created the award in memory of her mother, Catherine “Kitty” Abrams Tadlock Webster, who passed away in March of 2020.
As of 2020, the fund has made its first investment of $13,000 in 50 Moms running small businesses. The amount increased in 2021 from $250 to $500 for the 50 recipients. Each business will receive a grant of $500 for a total of $25,000 in 2022.
Foundation for a Just Society Grants
Grants are offered throughout the year by the Foundation for a Just Society. It supports initiatives and businesses throughout several regions, including the Southeast of the United States and New York City. Promoting ideas led by women, girls, and LGBTQ can create a more just society. Keep checking the website for current opportunities.
Sage Invest in Progress Grant
The Invest in Progress Grant from Sage supports Black women entrepreneurs in their early stages of business development. As part of its collaboration with the BOSS Impact Fund, Sage has established a three-year, $1.5 million grant fund this year. Between the two organizations, 35 grants will be awarded in 2022. There will also be opportunities to apply on an annual basis.
Annuity Freedom BIPOC Small Business Grant
Due to the impact of the pandemic on BIPOC-owned businesses, Annuity Freedom developed its BIPOC Small Business Grant Program. Multiple grant opportunities are available through the organization, including marketing grants and microgrants.
Verizon Small Business Digital Ready
As part of the #VerizonSmallBusinessDigitalReady program, StartupNation has partnered with Verizon to offer small businesses access to professional development, technology tools, and networking opportunities. To be eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant, you must complete two courses or coaching events.
Grow by Invoice2go
Grow by Invoice2go gives small business owners from underrepresented groups a way to recognize their contributions and untapped potential. They are doing this because they want to provide $200,000 so that small business owners from minority communities can take their next step.
Small Business Innovation Research
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs to support small businesses whose research is focused on solving scientific problems in agriculture that can substantially benefit society. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program offers grants to qualified small businesses competitively. Among the program’s objectives is to stimulate technological innovations in the private sector and to strengthen the role of federal research and development in supporting small firms. In addition to this, women-owned, socially disadvantaged, and economically disadvantaged businesses are also strongly encouraged to participate in SBIR programs.
You can get a $150,000 grant if you set up specific research and development goals for your company. If you demonstrate that your goals are feasible, you can receive up to $1 million at the start of the project.
Kimberly Clark – Mom Inspired Grants
Among its many programs, Huggies offers its Mom Inspired small business grant program to women with innovative ideas for products related to motherhood. Each year, 12 female entrepreneurs are given a $15,000 grant to encourage the development of their small businesses. The parent company of Huggies runs the Kimberly-Clark Foundation.
The Halstead Grant – Jewelry Business
You might be able to get a Halstead Grant if your small business idea involves selling silver jewelry. Over the past 40 years, the company has seen the vigor of its industry grow because of the creativity and talent of new people. $7,500 is presented to a jewelry maker who demonstrates exceptional talent when creating silver jewelry creations every year.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
The grant is intended to support women entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe. Priority is given to women entrepreneurs in the beginning stages of their businesses. The competition consists of 18 finalists selected by a panel. Six awardees will receive a $100,000 grant and professional counseling from top executives, and the remaining 12 will receive $30,000 grants each.
Idea Cafe Small Business Grant Program
Per its mission statement, Idea Cafe grants money to entrepreneurs who are “deserving of support.”. Throughout the entire year, you can apply for $1,000 grants. They run a website that offers advice, tips, and other free resources to beginners in entrepreneurship and new business owners.
Open Meadows Foundation Grants
The Open Meadows Foundation provides grants for business to women on a biannual basis to promote gender equality, economic development, and social justice. To qualify for this grant program, your company must be committed to promoting racial, gender, or economic equality.
There is a limit to the amount of money you can spend on operating your business. The board may select your organization for a $2,000 grant if it is selected for the grant.
37 Angels Small Business Grants
The 37 Angels is a group that recognizes the disadvantages that women entrepreneurs have faced when they have sought financing for their small businesses. Its mission is to educate and support entrepreneurs in their quest for success through a community of women investors and venture capitalists.
It is hoped that 37 Angels will be able to help combat this issue by giving women small business grants between $50,000 and $150,000, with an average investment of $25,000.
Belle Business Capital Grants
The Belle Capital Foundation offers grants to companies that women head up d up to provide them with early-stage funding. The organization specifically targets underserved capital markets in the US, which also encompasses female entrepreneurs. Grant amounts vary from one grant to the next.
You not only get money to launch and grow your business, but you are also provided with the opportunity to have insider access to an expert angel investment fund with talented professionals to be your mentors.
The Eileen-Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant is available to women entrepreneurs who need funding to expand their companies. A $100,000 grant is awarded to five ladies by Eileen Fisher.
If you want to be considered for this grant, your company must be a women-owned company that works to promote environmental and social change. If your business has been around for more than three years, and you don’t make more than $1 million in profits, you don’t qualify for the competition.
With the Eileen Fisher Grant Program heading into 2020, the focus is solely on its Supporting Women in Environmental Justice program, which aims to support women who are taking action in the name of environmental justice. Grant applications can be submitted to the grant committee from April 1 through April 30.
Living in California and in need of a grant? Check out our article about business grants for women in California.
Are you interested in learning more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation? Check out the rest of Gov Relations’ blog section today!