For women entrepreneurs, raising capital from scratch is the most challenging part of implementing business plans. To encourage female entrepreneurs, private investors, non-profits, and government agencies put up grants for grabs.
Mostly, these grants are free financing—unlike loans which have to be secured and paid back with interest.
However, these grants are often not easy to earn to come by. The competitions for grants are often fierce, and it takes a lot in terms of time and effort to win a grant. So, understandably, very few women entrepreneurs end up winning these grants. With that out of the way, grant competitions are excellent opportunities for women to get free capital and therefore worth every effort.
Another thing worth noting at this point is that some grants are open to women entrepreneurs across all fields while others target women in particular areas.
At Brief, we endeavor to help small business owners make critical financial decisions that will help grow their businesses, with ease and confidence. In this post, we share 10 dependable go-to spots that give women entrepreneurs opportunities to win grants to start and sustain their businesses.
Grants.gov is one of the best-known go-to places for women entrepreneurs looking for federally sponsored grants. Well, the Grants.gov platform is not exclusively for women since the federal government doesn’t discriminate between men and women entrepreneurs.
To apply for this grant, you have to register to do business with the government and obtain a DUNS ID for your business. Once you have those boxes checked, visit the official federal government grants website and skim through the “grants for small businesses” section, mover further left to the “eligibility” section to see if you qualify for the grant.
FedEx grant is another grant opportunity that any woman entrepreneur in need of capital would want to pursue, fiercely. Every year, the FedEx awards ten entrepreneurs up to $25,000 each, and sponsorship to use FedEx business services over a predetermined duration.
When applying for this grant, one of the requirements is an overview of your business (using clear pictures or videos), an explanation of how you will use the grant if awarded and elaboration of your financial need.
To qualify for FedEx Small Business grant, you’ll need to submit proof that you have been running the business profitably over the last six months, with not more than 99 employees.
The Girlboss is a fast-growing private grant for women entrepreneurs which was launched in 2014 by Sophia Amoruso. Sophia is an American businesswoman who founded “Nasty Girl”, a women’s fashion retail which went on to be one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.
Though highly competitive, winning the grant earns you a funding of $15,000. This grant is exclusively for women business owners in the fashion industry. Successful applicants are evaluated by a panel of judges based on their creativity, experience, plan, and financial need.
Created in 2006 by two established companies and business school; Cartier, McKinsey and INSEAD business school, the Cartier award exclusively funds businesses started and run by women. Though highly competitive, it’s one of the most lucrative grants for women in the United States offering $100,000 to the winner and a $30,000 second-place award for runners-up.
The application opens for only a few months every year, and you can apply by filling Cartier Women’s Initiative application form.
Did you know that every state and most cities across the United States have Economic Development Resources which you can take advantage of to improve your business? Now you do.
All states offer Economic Development Resources (EDR), which are often in the form of grants that you can apply for, win, and use to take your business to the next level. All you have to do is head over to the national EDR website and see the resources up for grabs in your city or state, then apply for them.
The federal SBA supports over 100 Women’s Business Centers in the United States. This vast network of women’s business centers is run by the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC); an organization that works to secure entrepreneurial opportunities for women running small businesses, mentoring, training and financing them.
The Women’s Business Centers grants benefit more than 145,000 women every year, across the country. Besides grants, AWBC also lends money to women entrepreneurs and helps them pursue other grants opportunities.
As the name hints, this grant is exclusively for women entrepreneurs. Created by Eileen Fisher, an accomplished clothing fashion retailer, the grant aims to benefit 10 women entrepreneurs across the country to a total tune of $100,000, annually.
To qualify for this grant, the majority of your business’ ownership and leadership must be women; your business must have been running profitably over the last three years—making less than a million dollars per year in revenue. The grant’s board is keen on innovation, social change, and environmental conservation.
Started in 2006, the Halstead Grant for women entrepreneurs targets small business owners, specifically in the jewelry industry, in the US. To win this grant, you’ll have to go out of your way to showcase your prowess in jewelry design.
If you apply for this grant, you will have to face a panel and answer a series of questions around your business, your objectives, and the strategies you intend to use to achieve the objectives.
With this grant competition, you stand a chance of winning $7,500 in cash, and an additional $1,000 worth of Halstead Jewelry supplies and publicity.
9. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (SBTTP)
These are two supportive programs offered by SBA to provide small business owners in America with grants and to complement researches done by the federal government.
Under these programs, twelve federal government agencies endeavor to provide grant opportunities on the SBIR website, where any qualified candidate can access them and file an application.
However, to qualify for these grants, you must meet a whopping eight requirements.
10. The Amber Grant
This is a private organization’s fund that aims to support women small business owners around the United States. The Amber Grant puts $2,000 up for grabs—every month, all year round. That gives you twelve opportunities every year to earn $2,000 for your business.
Besides the monthly draws, one lucky winner gets to walk away with an additional $25,000. So, if your business is impressive, you stand a chance of winning $27,000.
To apply for this grant, you must pay $15 in application fees then submit an overview of your business, and explain how the grant would help improve your business. If shortlisted, the Amber Grant board will invite you to tell your story.
Even though we only reviewed the ten best, there are many grants out there that women business owners can apply for to help grow their businesses. Try these, and your only regret might be that you didn’t try earlier.
All the best at it.