Small Business Grants for Women

Small Business Grants for Women

Of the 33.2 million small enterprises in the United States, nearly 13 million of them are women-owned. These enterprises employ almost 10 million people and generate nearly $1.8 trillion in revenue. Despite generating significant economic growth, female-founded companies received just 2.1% of venture capital funding in the U.S. in 2022.

With more women launching into entrepreneurship, there’s a growing need for funding to support women-owned enterprises. These organizations are answering the call.

Private Small Business Grants for Women

Amber Grant

Each month, WomensNet gives away $30,000 in Amber Grant funds to a women-owned business or nonprofit. They also award three year-end grants of $25,000 each to one of the 12 monthly recipients of the Monthly Amber Grant, the Startup Grant, and the Business Category Grant.

To be eligible, you must be age 18 or older, and your business must be 50% women-owned, operating in the U.S. or Canada. WomensNet’s uncomplicated procedure makes it simple to apply—just share your business narrative and how you would plan to use the grant.

IFundWomen Grant

The IFundWomen marketplace has a mission to close the funding divide for women-led enterprises. Simply complete out the Universal Grant Application, and anytime IFundWomen partners with a new brand, they’ll match that partner’s grant criteria to businesses in the database. If there’s a match, they’ll notify you immediately.

Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition

The Fast Pitch Competition provides $55,000 in cash grants and more than $100,000 in professional services to tech-focused business-to-business (B2B)/business-to-consumer (B2C) companies and consumer-focused businesses.

To qualify, the founder/CEO must be a woman or the business must be majority-owned by a woman, and the company must be domiciled in the U.S. It admits pre-revenue proposals but excludes life sciences, nonprofit, and cannabis/CBD companies.

NASE Growth Grant

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) chooses four champions each quarter to receive up to $4,000 in grant support. You can use your grant award for a range of development purposes, including employing employees, purchasing equipment, or investing in marketing.

To enroll, you must be a NASE member in good standing. The NASE evaluates your application based on identifiable business need, how you plan to use the grant money, and its prospective impact on overall business growth and success.

Freed Fellowship Grant

Every month, one small business owner in the U.S. receives a $500 Freed grant to invest in their enterprise. Just by applying, you’ll get feedback on your business and two months of complimentary mentoring in the Freed Studio virtual community.

Winners get access to additional business mentoring and an opportunity to receive an end-of-year incentive grant of $2,500.

HerRise MicroGrant

HerSuiteSpot and The Yva Jourdan Foundation partner to assist women-of-color entrepreneurs establish or develop a business. The HerRise MicroGrant selects a recipient each month to receive $1,000 to use for business requirements such as computers, equipment, marketing materials, software purchase, and website creation.

To apply, your business must be currently registered in the U.S., 51% owned by women of color, and have less than $1 million in cumulative revenue. This grant excludes nonprofits, franchises, direct sellers, authorized resellers, and independent consultants.

FoundHer Program

The FoundHer Program accelerates growth for women-founded enterprises in Hawaii. The six-month program includes a $20,000 grant, a $4,000 care stipend, weekly educational seminars, a national network of business mentors and advisors, and monthly retreats.

You must be a for-profit, Hawaii-based small business that is 50% Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women-led. The program concentrates in five main sectors of Hawaii’s economy: technology, fashion, health and wellness, food systems, and keiki/education. Applications for Cohort 3 are closed, but keep a watch out for the next round of applications commencing in 2024.

Cartier Women’s Initiative Award

13 Business Grants For Women: Receive Free Money – Forbes Advisor

All women-run and women-owned enterprises can register for the Cartier Women’s Initiative award, regardless of country or sector. For consideration, your business must demonstrate a significant and sustainable social and/or environmental impact.

Grants within this program include nine regional honors and two thematic awards: the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award (open to all genders), and the Science & Technology Pioneer Award. The next call for applications will run from May 22, 2024, through July 3, 2024.

Beyond Open Small Business Grant

This grant program concentrates on diverse-owned small enterprises within six underinvested areas in Charlotte, North Carolina, known as the Corridors of Opportunity. In partnership with the Foundation for the Carolinas, the Beyond Open program will award three rounds of grants at around $5 million per round, for a total of $15 million.

This highly competitive grant program received thousands of applications for each of the first two phases. The final round will take place in 2024. Eligibility requirements include: at least 51% ownership by minority, woman, veteran, LGBTQ+, or people with disabilities; physical location within one of the Corridors of Opportunity; annual revenue from $30,000 to $5 million; fewer than 200 full-time and/or part-time employees, and at least one full year of operation beginning on or before Aug. 1, 2022.

Tory Burch Foundation Fellowship

In partnership with the Fearless Fund, the Tory Burch Foundation Fellowship selects 75 women-of-color-owned enterprises to receive $10,000 and $20,000 grants. Winners also receive access to education and community.

For eligibility, your business must be operating in the United States as a for-profit company and be at least 51% woman-of-color-owned. Preference goes to enterprises in the first five years of operation, with a minimum annual revenue of $100,000.

Launch Program by Ladies Who Launch

If you’re a women- or nonbinary-owned business in the consumer packaged goods sector, check out the Launch Program by Ladies Who Launch. The program provides a $10,000 financial grant, mentorship from industry experts, and six months of complimentary education to support you on your business voyage.

Interested businesses must have an annual total revenue from $100,000 to $499,000 and cannot currently be raising, have previously raised funds from, or intend to pursue venture capital or angel investment, or a liquidity event, in the next 12 months.

Women’s Business Development Council Equity Match Grant

For Connecticut residents, the Women’s Business Development Council gives away equity matching grants from $2,500 to $10,000 to qualified woman-owned small businesses. If awarded, you’ll need to provide a minimum match of 25% (unless located in distressed economic municipalities).

The awards committee is looking for a clear use of funds, with a direct link to development and job creation potential. Additionally, you must have a record of annual sales of $25,000 to $2 million in the last 12 months.

High Five Grant for Moms

The Mama Ladder’s High Five Grant program is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for parent entrepreneurs to gain financial support for expanding their enterprises. In 2023, The Mama Ladder awarded grants totaling $38,500 to 24 worthy recipients, with a grand prize of $10,000

Anyone who is a mother and proprietor (or 50% co-owner) of a revenue-generating enterprise can register. This includes foster mommies, expecting parents, stepmoms, and mothers of adult offspring.

Federal Business Grants for Women

13 Business Grants For Women: Receive Free Money – Forbes Advisor

Here you can search an extensive list of available grants, plus get guidance on how to apply, locate available documents, and monitor your application. The database lists grants from government agencies and funding instruments from the Department of Energy, NASA, Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, Native American tribal governments, and others.

SBIR and SBTT Programs

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs support small U.S. enterprises in doing research that could lead to new products. To be eligible, a business must be organized in the U.S., mostly owned by U.S. citizens, and have fewer than 500 employees.

STTR involves collaborating with a U.S. nonprofit research institution. STTR has some additional requirements, like agreeing on who controls the ideas that arise out of the research and specifying how the work is shared between the small business and the research institution.

Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME)

Congress established PRIME grants as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999.

The program provides low-income entrepreneurs access to capital to help establish and expand their modest enterprises.

In 2023, individual PRIME grants ranged from $100,000 to $400,000, for a total of $8 million in awards. With emphasis on entrepreneurs in rural areas, PRIME grants typically require at least 50% in reciprocal funds or in-kind contributions. 

Additional Resources for Female Business Owners

Office of Women’s Business Ownership

The Office of Women’s Business Ownership, established by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), empowers women entrepreneurs in the U.S. by providing advocacy, outreach, education, and support. Through Women’s Business Centers across the country, the office offers comprehensive training and counseling, access to credit, and marketing opportunities.


DreamBuilder offers free online courses in both Spanish and English to help women establish or develop their enterprises. The program includes a step-by-step framework for establishing a small business and a course explicitly focused on financing, providing a personalized business plan, and a Capital Action Plan.

Belle Capital USA

Belle Capital USA is an early-stage fund investing in fast-growing enterprises founded by women. Their aim is to accomplish top returns by working closely with these companies, helping them develop rapidly, and prepare for success. The fund also encourages other women to become early-stage investors, recognizing the significant impact it can have on influencing the funding landscape for entrepreneurs.

Professional Associations and Industry Organizations

Small business grants: 20 options to apply for free funds for your business  | LegalZoom

Joining a professional women’s organization can make a significant difference in a woman’s career. Whether you are just commencing your professional journey, making a transition to a new field, or considering launching a new enterprise, it’s likely there is an organization that can assist. Some professional women’s organizations focus on minorities, some on specific industries, and some are general. Examples include:

Minority Business Development Agency

Asian Women in Business Association for Women in Science Financial Women’s Association American Business Women’s Association Business and Professional Women International

National Women’s Business Council (NWBC)

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) advises the president, Congress, and the Small Business Administration on issues affecting women business owners. The NWBC concentrates on overcoming challenges like limited access to money and supports women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through activities like webinars and roundtables, seeking to create a more inclusive entrepreneurial environment.

This site hosts a comprehensive directory of all the organizations and foundations that offer grant funding to women. The database includes federal, corporate, private, and professional grants, plus general information about the process.

Funding Alternatives to Small Business Grants

Aside from grants, there are a number of alternative funding options available for women-owned enterprises, such as:

  • Traditional bank loans

  • Microloans

  • Venture capital and entrepreneur investment

  • Crowdfunding

  • Asset or invoice financing

  • Bridge financing

  • Peer-to-peer financing

  • Term loans

What Defines a Woman-Owned Business?

If your business is at least 51% woman-owned and woman-operated, it may be classified as a woman-owned business. The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) defines two options for official certification: women-owned small business (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small business (EDWOSB).

Businesses may self-certify for free, or obtain certification from a Small Business Administration (SBA)-approved third-party certifier for a fee. The NWBC considers both approaches to be legitimate and equally beneficial.

To qualify as a WOSB, a woman must hold the highest officer position, work at the business full-time, and be engaged in making both day-to-day and long-term business decisions for the company. Qualifying as an EDWOSB means meeting all criteria of a WOSB, plus additional income, net worth, and asset requirements.

Obtaining this certification provides you access to federal contracts and economic resources, and adds credibility to your grant applications.

How Do I Write a Grant Proposal for a Small Business?

Applying for grants can be a bit of a waiting game. You complete out forms, submit them on time, and then cross your fingers as you wait for the decision from the committee or organization managing your request.

The key to a successful grant application is to follow instructions to a T. Failure to do so could mean removal from the consideration process. If you find the process a bit daunting, consider reaching out to a grant writer.

Follow these tips for a successful grant proposal:

Make sure you satisfy the minimum eligibility requirements.
Understand and tailor your application to the goals, values, and objectives of the institution offering the grant.
Have a distinct purpose for why you want the funds and how you’ll use them.
Build your company’s credibility through plain and comprehensive documentation, including business records, testimonials, and research to back up any claims.

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