If you’re a woman who has been thinking about quitting her nine to five, or who doesn’t consider working for someone else as the path to fulfillment, it could be that starting a business is on your mind. You’re not alone. In fact, it was estimated in 2017, that women own over 11.5 million businesses. Or it could be that you already have your own business but know that it needs to grow, and you could use some financial assistance.
Maybe you’ve got your business plan laid out and know exactly what you would like to be doing or where you need to spend more, like marketing or you want to tie your company to a specific cause. You’re full of ideas but as the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money, and that’s where you’re coming up short. Money.And where to find some so that you can get started on the road to successful business ownership. You could go the traditional route and apply for a loan, but that means taking on debt. What if you could get some help in the form of free money?
Free money? It is possible in the form of a small business grant—no need to worry about the typical loan headaches like credit scores and repayment schedules. But, finding one can be tough because the can be very specific as to how they get awarded. You definitely need to do your research to find out what could be the right grant for you and your company’s goals. Also, competition for grants can be stiff since it’s money that you don’t have to be paid back, and everyone wants a piece of the pie. One silver lining about grants being very targeted for specific business owners is that as a woman, you can search for and find small business grants for women.
If you’re looking for small business grants for women, then why not start with the obvious? Head over to the grants.gov website to search for potential government grants. There’s a variety of categories that you could use to filter your results.
For example, you could search in the environment section and limit the eligibility to small business to see what kind of funding is available if your company has a product or service relating to the environment.
The Girlboss Foundation
Since 2014, the Girlboss Foundation has given grants to women and those who identify their gender as female to the tune of more than $130,000. You may be eligible to receive an award of $15,000 if:
- You’re at least 18 years old.
- You’re a resident of the United States.
- Your business focuses on the fields of the arts, music, fashion, or design.
- You can achieve a specific business goal with the grant within a year of receiving the funds.
U.S. Small Business Administration
Depending on what state you’re in, the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) may have a regional office in your area that can help you locate grant funding, training, and counseling. There are more than 100 Women’s Business Centers to help women start and grow a small business.
Also, the SBA sponsors a competition called InnovateHER that awards grants to women through the Office of Women’s Business Ownership for services or products that can help women and families. If your business plan is found by the SBA to have an impact on improving the lives of women and their families and can be commercialized, then you may receive one of the awards.
- First place receives $40,000.
- Second place wins $20,000.
- Third place earns $10,000.
Examples of some of the products from previous winners of the InnovateHER competition include a website for digital sewing patterns and a pacifier through which a baby can receive oral medication.
Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grants
Eileen Fisher has been supporting female entrepreneurs through the Women-Owned Grant Program since 2004. Past recipients of the grants have been involved in a variety of social, economic, and environmental issues like rebuilding bee colonies, providing living wages for Haitian artisans, and creating smoke-free natural blocks that can burn like wood to prevent health issues in Uganda.
Amber Grants For Women
Since 1998, every month, the Amber Grants for Women awards $1,000 to an applicant. At the end of the year, one of the lucky recipients of the $1,000 could win a $10,000 grant. To apply, you don’t have to be in a specific industry or have a company that has a particular number of employees. In their application, they stress that they want to know more about the woman who is the brains of her operation.
Belle Capital USA
Belle Capital USA is an angel fund that invests money in companies founded by a woman or that has a woman in their C-Suite (ex: CEO, COO, CFO). If your company is involved in IT, clean technology, digital health, or tech enabling services and products, and think your product or service can reach revenues of $20 million within five years, then you might qualify.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
Not exactly a small business grant for women in the traditional sense, but a potential source from which to receive funding, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is a contest built to finance and assist the plans of female entrepreneurs.
To be eligible to receive one of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, your female-led business should not be more than three years old, you should be at least 18, speak and write English well, and your business should be generating revenues. First place receives $100,000 and 14 finalists will receive $30,000.
The Patrina Foundation
If you’re in the New York Metropolitan area or surrounding counties, part of a tax-exempt organization like a nonprofit, and want to create an educational, cultural, or social service program to enhance the lives of girls and women, you might want to look to the Patrina Foundation for potential funding.
You can receive a grant as ongoing support, once to help solve a specific problem, or to help your start-up program and organization get going.
If you’ve got a tech startup and you’re located in the Southeast area of the country, then you might want to check out Startup Runway. Located in Atlanta, they connect up-and-coming companies founded by women or minorities to investors for grant opportunities. They look for team diversity, market validation, and a steadily growing presence.
The businesses need to have growing monthly revenues and a scalable business model. Successful recipients have received up to $10,000 and have been involved in cloud computing, healthcare, and blockchain among other tech industries.
Tory Burch Foundation
If you’re at least 21 years old, are U.S. resident, have a majority stake in and manage a U.S. business that still isn’t over five years old and is generating revenues of at least $75,000, then you might qualify for a grant from the Tory Burch Foundation.
The $5,000 grant is to further your business education, including for attending conferences and workshops.
You’ll also become a part of The Fellows Program which provides you with a year’s access to their online network of resources and other female entrepreneurs. Fellows take a four-day trip to Tory Burch headquarters for workshops and networking with business leaders. Certain Fellows will also be able to pitch to industry influencers.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
Although not specifically tailored for women, the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is still a potential source for free funds for your small business and awards grants ranging from $15,0000 to $50,000. To enter in the contest, you have to submit a video presentation.
Previous winners of the contest have included a mom who designed a child’s winter coat that could be rearranged to make it easier to strap your child into their car seat. Another grant recipient was a young woman who had her things stolen from her gym locker and used that experience to create a bracelet to store valuables in while you’re working out.
Small business grants for women can be a great way to secure funding to launch or grow your business. However, be prepared to do a lot of legwork. First, conduct your research to find the grant that applies to you and your company. Make sure you meet the guidelines and deadlines to apply. If you miss a date, you might get stuck waiting for another year until the grant comes up again.
Get ready to compete against other entrepreneurs, and if you win, you’ll probably have to meet another deadline on the back-end and prove that you’ve used the funds as set by the initial grant rules. Finding grants tailored for women-owned business can be tough, but it doesn’t limit you to applying for grants only for women, it’s an additional sector you can turn to for funds.
Joan Perry is the publisher of www.WomensWealth.money, the national authority site for women and money. She is a Best Selling Author of ‘A Girl Needs Cash’, Random House; and Living Proof, Celebrating the Gifts that Came Wrapped in Sandpaper (co-authored with Lisa Nichols). Joan is also the creator of The Women’s Wealth Model, A Heroine’s Journey to True Wealth,. As a pioneer in the field of women’s wealth, she founded the first female-owned investment banking firm that underwrote and traded municipal bonds for major governmental entities. Now as a women’s wealth advocate, she serves as a teacher, coach, writer and speaker.