14 Small business grants all women entrepreneurs can apply for
BONUS: Here’s one more grant for women entrepreneurs, but applications are closing soon! Ladies Who Launch’s Launch Program offers a $10,000 cash grant plus six months of mentorship, education, community and amplification to grant awardees. Get the details here.
In the rapidly changing modern economy, entrepreneurs need access to fresh capital for new products, research goals and fluctuating inventories. While large companies that have fared well on the open market for several years can rely solely on profits to reinvest, new businesses need to be resourceful. There are start-up costs like furniture and equipment, business insurance, and inventory. Then they may need financing to get through the first few slow quarters.
This is especially true for small businesses. While it can be difficult for startup companies to become profitable, small businesses led by women are at a disadvantage.
Women entrepreneurs face funding challenges
Data from the loan market suggests that female entrepreneurs are 5% less likely to receive conventional business loans than their male counterparts. This trend also pertains to women who apply for the government-supported loans of the Small Business Administration.
On average, women who manage to secure a loan also receive smaller sums than male borrowers. This means that businesses with female owners struggle to obtain credit, which is a necessary part of being competitive in any market. Economists, sociologists, and market analysts have examined many factors to learn why women entrepreneurs struggle to obtain credit. Some researchers believe that women may be more averse to financial risks than men, and others state that women simply apply for fewer loans. These are important topics to consider, but the lower loan amounts for women clearly show that bias is a critical factor.
Fortunately, several lenders and corporations have acknowledged female entrepreneurs' disadvantages. They have attempted to reduce gender inequality and build the economy with these 14 small business grants and funding opportunities for women.
Visa’s She’s Next program
She’s Next is a business grant program for Black women-owned businesses offered through Visa. Some of the qualification to apply include: you must be a black woman and business owner, have been in business for at least two years, be a B2C company, have a minimum revenue of at least $24k, and locations restrictions apply. To learn more about qualifications, visit the Visa She’s Next program website.
Amber Grants are suitable for female entrepreneurs who are planning to launch small, local businesses. Each month, one female-owned business is selected for a $10,000 grant. At the end of the year, one of the monthly winners is selected for a $25,000 grant. To apply for an Amber Grant, you simply need to explain the purpose of your business.
Small Business Technology Transfer Program
Your company may be able to obtain funds from the federal Small Business Technology Transfer Program for research and development needs. To obtain a research grant from the federal government, your company must have fewer than 500 employees. You can earn up to $250,000 during the startup phase, and you can receive an additional $750,000 if your research yields positive results.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)
V-WISE offers two low-cost entrepreneur training programs to women veterans or women who are spouses of veterans. It is sponsored by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. While not a grant program, V-WISE offers valuable skill-building courses to help women start and grow businesses. The V-WISE program is a 15-day online course that costs $75, and the V-WISE IGNITE program is an accelerated course that lasts one day and costs only $25. Both V-WISE and V-WISE IGNITE offers agendas full of networking opportunities, training with expert instructors, mentorship and more. Visit the website for details.
Small Business Innovation Research
If you have a cutting-edge idea that you believe will satisfy the needs of the market, apply for a Small Business Innovation Research grant. Your company can earn a $150,000 grant to establish research and development goals. If the goals are proven to be feasible, you can receive up to $1 million in a two-year window.
Ms. Foundation for Women
The Ms. Foundation offers several different awards to women who own businesses that further the advancement of women and girls. In the past, recipients of the award have had businesses that work to prevent domestic violence, advocate for reproductive health, promote access to affordable childcare, and more. In addition to funding, the foundation provides grantees with mentorship support, networking opportunities, and trainings. Learn how you can apply on the foundation’s website.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Award
Since 2006, Cartier has been awarding 21 female entrepreneurs with the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award. Each year, winners receive one-on-one expert coaching, business workshops, media coverage for the entrepreneur and their business, and prizes ranging from $30,000 to $100,000. To learn more about how you can apply for this grant, visit the Cartier Women’s Initiative website.
IFundWomen Universal Grant program
The IFundWomen program partners with tons of organizations to bring grant opportunities to women-owned small businesses. You can peruse their site to find applications for all kinds of grants, or you can apply directly to IFundWomen, which has a grant pool of over $8M.
Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program Grants
Each year the Tory Burch Foundation chooses 50 women as Foundation Fellows. These women take part in professional development and networking opportunities in addition to being awarded a $5,000 grant to apply towards their business education. These women are presented with an opportunity to share their business plan with potential investors. To be eligible, you must be a woman-identifying entrepreneur owning the largest or equal stake in a qualifying business that is majority (51% or more) owned and controlled by women. The business must be for-profit, generating at least $75,000 in the past year. See full details on their website.
If you’re looking for funding opportunities for your business, GrantsForWomen.org is a good place to start. The website is a database of grants specifically for women. They also have lots of information about the different types of grants available, such as private, corporate, federal, etc. Not all grants are specifically for business owners, but they offer funding options in a wide range of industries.
37 Angels is an organization made up of female angel investors that invest in women-owned small businesses. The organization recognizes the disadvantages that female entrepreneurs face in the loan market and seeks to close that gap. To help women keep their companies afloat, 37 Angels offers grants as large as $150,000.
Belle Capital is an investment firm focused on companies led by women. Their mission is to help mitigate the unfair gap in funding that women receive compared to men. Although women continue to prove themselves as successful entrepreneurs; their businesses even proving to do better than that of their male counterparts’ in some cases, they still receive less funding than men. To learn more about Bell Capital’s investment criteria, visit their website.
FedEx Small Business Grant
FedEx has demonstrated through its previous grant competitions that it is fair with its distribution of funds to women and men. To determine the winner, FedEx allows the public to vote for their favorite company in the competition. The winners with the most votes receive a $50,000 grant, FedEx Office® print services credit worth $4,000, and more.
Hiscox Small Business Insurance
Learn more about how women are changing the business world in The Rise of Women Entrepreneurs study from Hiscox. And make sure to check out small business insurance options from Hiscox to help protect everything you've worked hard to build.
Originally published in 2017 but updated in March 2022 to include current grant opportunities and links to current websites.