Are you a female-identifying business owner who could use an influx of funds to grow your company? While passion, a plan and sweat equity will get you far, capital can take you to the next level. That’s where grants for women-owned small businesses come in handy.
Grants are financial gifts that don’t need to be repaid, and several organizations offer them specifically to female business owners. Here is a handful that you should add to your business planning.
Apply to these 5 grants for women-owned businesses
As an entrepreneur, your hands are full with building your business, marketing your budding company and taking orders. Where do you begin looking for opportunities for small business grants?
Opportunities exist at both federal and state levels and in communities across the country. You don’t need to bootstrap alone. Here are five popular grants for women-owned businesses, where to find additional grants and how the application process works.
1. WomensNet Grants
WomensNet offers $450,000 worth of women’s business grants each year, including the Amber Grant.
The Amber Grant was launched in 1998 to remember a young entrepreneur, Amber Wigdahl, who died at age 19 before her business dreams came true.1 Now, in her honor, a whole lineup of grant programs help many women each year, including:
- The Monthly Amber Grant: Each month, one winner receives a $10,000 grant and four finalists receive $1,000 each.
- The Annual Amber Grant: At the end of the year, the organization awards an additional $25,000 grant to one of its monthly Amber Grant winners.
- The Marketing Grant: Each year, two women receive hands-on marketing help.
- The Non-Profit Grant: Each quarter, a non-profit business or organization receives a $10,000 grant.
- The Business Category Grant: Each month, the organization chooses a business category and one entrepreneur with a business in that category to win $10,000. At the end of the year, one of its monthly winners will also win an additional $25,000 grant.
- Mini-Grants: Advisory Board members award smaller grants of $2,000 throughout the year. 2022, for example, offers a pool of $48,000 Mini-Grants.2
You only need to fill out one application to be considered for all of the WomensNet Grants.3 Further, if you don’t win, you can keep applying each month.
2. IFundWomen Grants
IFundWomen is a funding marketplace for women-owned businesses. It helps women access capital for their companies and provides access to a lineup of small business grants.4 Two of the available grants are:
- The IFundWomen Entrepreneur of the Year Grant is the organization’s biggest annual funding program. It awards one grand-prize winner a $100,000 equity investment in their company and a year of educational services. Six other winners will each get $5,000 grants and a year of educational services.5
- Vista x IFundWomen ReferHer Program: IFundWomen partnered up with Vista to offer this program. They choose ten women to attend an exclusive dinner, receive access to resources and tools such as an exclusive co-working space in their areas, and get a chance to win a monetary grant.6
IFundWomen frequently partners with different corporations to offer new grants for women, so check back regularly.
3. Cartier Women’s Initiative Regional Awards Program
The Cartier Women’s Initiative offers a Regional Awards program for businesses run or owned by women. The initiative chooses three winners from each of 10 regions to receive a combination of financial, human and social capital support.
The first-place winner gets a $100,000 grant, second place gets $60,000 and third place gets $30,000. The application period typically runs from mid-May to the end of June.7
4. Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program
The Tory Burch Foundation offers an annual Fellows Program that helps female entrepreneurs grow and scale early-stage companies. As a program participant, you receive a one-year fellowship, access to an online community full of other founders and a $5,000 grant to advance your business education. You’ll also get an invitation to an end-of-the-year networking event in New York City.
The program’s impact includes 29% of members surpassing $1 million in sales, 14% raising venture capital and only 6% closing their business (compared to the national average of 50% in the first five years). Applications typically open at the end of September and close in mid-November.8
5. Women Founder’s Network Fast Pitch Competition
The Women Founder’s Network offers a Fast Pitch Competition where female founders, co-founders and CEOs pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. The first-place winner of each application track receives a $25,000 grant, and one Junior Judge winner receives $5,000. In 2022, its two tracks include one for tech and tech-enabled businesses and a second for consumer products, consumer packaged goods and other business types.
The top ten finalists also receive a variety of other benefits like one-on-one coaching for the event, a financial mentor, feedback on your pitch, an invite to a VIP private pitch event and more. The application period typically runs from mid-April to the end of May.9
All five of these grant programs offer women business owners an opportunity to win cash for their companies. However, many go far beyond that, offering additional levels of support.
How to find grants for women-owned startup businesses
The five grants listed here are just the beginning. Many organizations help women-owned businesses get the support they need to grow.
SBA-Sponsored Women’s Business Centers
To find more grant opportunities, get in touch with the SBA-sponsored Women’s Business Center in your local area.10 These centers are designed to help women start and grow small businesses and help you find local grants. Plus, they offer business training, counseling, access to credit and federal contract opportunities.11
EDA local offices
Another government agency to check out is the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). It has offices across the U.S. and supports regional economic development.12 You can find the office nearest you using the EDA’s directory tool.13
Grants.gov is a database of federally sponsored grants that includes grants for small business owners. You can find the grants for small business owners by using the filtering options on the left-hand side of the website.
State and local governments
State and local government websites are also good places to check for grants. For example, Idaho offers a lineup of grants, including the Wild Rivers Grant, given to those who help to promote whitewater river tourism in the state.14 Often, they’ll have grants to support initiatives aligned with their current goals.
Search engines like Google can help you find some of the latest and most popular grant programs available for women business owners.
How to apply for grants for women-owned small businesses
To apply for a woman-owned small business grant, follow these steps:
- Find the right grant for you: In most cases, grant programs have a dedicated website where you can learn all you need to know. Look for grants that match your financial needs, application process, timeline and eligibility requirements.
- Note the application window: Keep in mind that many grant programs have application open and close dates, and you’ll have to apply during the given window. It can be helpful to create a spreadsheet that lists grant programs you’re interested in, along with their award amounts, fees and application windows.
- Apply: Application instructions will vary from one program to the next. At a minimum, you’ll need to complete an application that asks you questions about yourself and your business. The Amber Grant, for example, requests:
- Your name, email, business name and website
- An overview of your business or business idea
- How you plan to spend the grant money15
- Pay any fees: Be aware that grant programs may have application fees — and they can add up fast. Consider analyzing which grant programs best fit your situation and applying for those first.
Once you submit your application, it’s a waiting game. The grant provider will let you know when you can expect to hear the results.
Grow and protect your small business
Grants can help women take the next step in your business and are a wonderful catalyst for expansion. However, as you grow, you’ll have more to protect. Small business insurance can protect the business you’re working hard to build.
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- Amber Grants For Women. Get An Amber Grant Page.
- Amber Grants for Women. All Grants Page.
- Amber Grants for Women. Apply Now Page.
- IFundWomen. About Us Page.
- IFundWomen. Entrepreneur of the Year Grant 2022.
- IFundWomen. Vista ReferHer Grant.
- Cartier Women’s Iniative, Regional Awards.
- Tory Burch Foundation, Fellows Program,
- Women’s Founder Network. About Fast Pitch.
- Small Business Administration. Local Assistance.
- Small Business Administration. Women’s Business Centers.
- Economic Development Administration. About.
- Economic Development Administration. Directory Tool.
- Idaho Commerce. Grants.
- Amber Grant. Application Page.