13 Best Small Business Grants for Women

13 Best Small Business Grants for Women

13 Best Small Business Grants for Women

Women are a core pillar in business, but in far too many cases women face inordinate challenges and find themselves behind their male counterparts based on several measures when it comes to business ownership and incomes. While there are many incredibly successful female entrepreneurs that come to mind when discussing women in business, women remain underrepresented at the workplace and often earn less than their male counterparts for the same work. 

Business owners already struggle to qualify for business loans or other forms of financing as they try to build business credit and build their businesses, and women business owners moreso. When loans are tough to come by, money can be in short supply and small businesses struggle. 

These 13 grants are doing something to solve that problem. If you are a woman looking to start or grow a business, these small business grants for women and other resources may be just what you need to get to the next level.

The 13 Best Small Business Grants for Women

  1. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program
  2. Girlboss Foundation
  3. Amber Grant
  4. FedEx Business Grant
  5. Idea Cafe Grant
  6. AAUW Community Action Grants
  7. Cartier Grant
  8. Nav Small Business Grant
  9. Open Meadows Foundation
  10. Halstead Grant
  11. 37 Angels
  12. Belle Capital
  13. Grantsforwomen.org

1. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program

The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant is one of the best known women focused grant programs around. Since 2004, this grant program has helped women-owned non-profit companies that are already beyond the business startups phase expand their business, with attention paid to social and environmental impact.

Eileen Fisher is a women’s clothing brand, and it awards $100,000 in annual grants. Up to 10 recipients get at least $10,000 injected into their business. Learn more at Eileen Fisher.

How to Apply

In order to qualify for this grant, your business must be an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) organization with financial statements to demonstrate one full year of operations. You must also serve a demographic related to the grant’s initiatives and executive leadership should reflect the target demographic. 

Your business will not be eligible to apply if it promotes the views of a specific political party or religion, does not have a female executive leader, or a number of other specifications. You can visit this page for more details. 

2. #GIRLBOSS Foundation Grant

Relatively new, the #GIRLBOSS grant targets female entrepreneurs in creative fields. They award two $15,000 grants each year, which includes exposure on Girlboss’ website and social media channels. 

How to Apply

Being a grant for creative entrepreneurs, the application consists of samples of your work. To show your business acumen, you’ll also need to provide a well-thought-out plan as to how to use the money, how it will help your business, etc. You can find more details here

3. Amber Grants for Women

The Amber Grant is a monthly $500 grant, with larger grant opportunities in some rare cases. While the dollars are not as big as the five-figure award you may be after, every dollar counts. Women can apply at the Amber Grants for Women website, and winners are picked from a judging panel from WomensNet.

This grant started in 1998 when a 19-year-old young woman named Amber passed away before reaching her entrepreneurship dreams. The grant is designed to help women reach that same goal in her honor.

How to Apply

The application process for the Amber Grant is a bit more simple. They just ask for information about your business, what you would do if awarded the money, and ask you to speak from the heart. Find more information here

4. FedEx Small Business Grant

While the FedEx Small Business Grant isn’t exclusively for women, the sponsoring company makes a point to fairly distribute awards between men and women. 10 winners total take home a price, up to $25,000 for first place. Winners also get access to free FedEx Office print and copy services on top of their cash prize.

This grant recognizes “incredible small businesses from across the country.” If you are a woman that runs such a business, make sure to apply! Learn more at FedEx.

How to Apply

Another simple application process, FedEx just asks for your business name, that you’ve been in business for more than 6 months, have less than 99 employees, and are not a franchise, direct seller, or non-profit. You’ll then need to provide information about your business plan, business story, and what you would do with the grant. Find more information here.

5. Idea Cafe Grant

Idea Cafe offers grants of $1,000. The quick and easy grant application is highly competitive, but if you have a great business idea that is “ground-breaking or a simple, but yet creative solution to an everyday problem, [Idea Cafe] would like to hear about it.”

This one is not specific to women, like the FedEx grant, but is very friendly to women applicants. The last three winners are women, as a matter of fact. Learn more and apply.

How to Apply

Idea Cafe doesn’t require a purchase or even a complete business plan to enter. As long as you sign up as an Idea Cafe Regular, you can enter for their grant and many others they advertise on their site. 

6. American Association of University Women Community Action Grants

The American Association of University Women, or AAUW, offers Community Action Grants for one or two year community-based projects. These grants are more focused on education than general business ownership and entrepreneurship, but if your business idea overlaps with any clearly defined activity that “promotes education and equality for women and girls,” you are in the running.

This grant is part of a long string of funding going back to 1972. As it comes from a women’s business organization, it is only fitting that this grant is woman-focused. Recent winners include programs like ECO Girls, a Michigan based organization that seeks to connect minority girls with the environment through a unique and exciting program.

How to Apply

Applicants must be women who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Non-profit organizations must be based in the United States, and special consideration is given to women’s and girls’ achievements in STEM initiatives. 

7. Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards seek to advance women entrepreneurs all across the world, including North America. They will review all applicants and choose 21 finalists, who will receive personalized business coaching prior to Awards week, media visibility, and a scholarship to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Programme.

From the pool of 21 finalists, 7 laureates will be chosen and will each receive $100,000 in prize money along with one-on-one mentoring, while the 14 remaining will receive $30,000. Get more information and apply with Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

How to Apply

A business must be for-profit and early stage to be eligible to apply. The main leadership position must be held by a woman with good command of the English language. Applicants should be willing to give 3-4 hours a week from January to April to participate in the Cartier program, and be prepared to attend a 1-week workshop in early may.

8. Nav Grant

While not exclusively for female entrepreneurs, the Nav Grant is a great opportunity for a growing business looking to take the next step. First prize winners take home $10,000, and there are multiple opportunities to apply each year.

How to Apply

Applications are accepted through Facebook, and should demonstrate a real issue that your business is facing, and very specifically how you would use the money if your business was selected. You can find more information here.

9. Open Meadows Foundation

Open Meadows Foundation grants are biannual awards of $2,000. The grant is awarded to smaller organizations with an operating budget of under $75,000 per year. Grants are specifically for women-led projects that benefit women and girls.

The foundation looks for projects that are designed and implemented by women and girls, and focus on building community. Those with limited financial access have the best odds of taking home the prize. Learn more at the Open Meadows Foundation website.

How to Apply

Being by filling out this cover sheet and emailing it into the Open Meadows Foundation, along with all requested information. From there, someone may be in touch with you. 

10. The Halstead Grant

This women focused grant is also industry focused. The Halstead Grant is an annual grant awarded to an exceptional jewelry designed working in silver. For 2018, the winner takes home $7,500 and $1,000 in supplies, plus a trip to Halstead’s offices in Prescott, Arizona.

This grant is certainly not for everyone, but it is great for women working with silver jewelry. If that sounds like you, learn more and apply.

How to Apply

Begin by downloading an application here, submissions are due by August 1st. 

11. 37 Angels Grants

A group of women investors came together to create 37 Angels. They recognize that just 13 percent of angel investors are women, and work to bring that to 50 percent. 37 Angels grants come with an accelerator program to bring your entire business to the next level.

While the capital inflow comes in the form of an investment, not a grant, it could be just what your business needs to grow and succeed. Learn more at 37 Angels.

How to Apply

Getting a grant from 37 Angels isn’t so much an application as a networking opportunity. Begin by joining their network here and engaging in educational opportunities, you may find what you need to get your business rolling. 

12. Belle Capital

Belle Capital offers investments in early stage, women-led companies. Like 37 Angels, they want a return on their investment. The Belle Capital fund is targeted to invest in 10 to 15 high growth companies. Like other venture capital firms, they want to participate and bring expertise to help grow your business. This is no handout.

How to Apply

Learn more at Belle Capital, including the strict investment criteria. They are looking for small businesses that can reach $20 million in revenue within five years. Some others on this list are good for small businesses, but this investment is just for the big girls.

13. GrantsforWomen.org

New, smaller grant opportunities are always popping up, GrantsforWomen.org can help you find new opportunities for business or working capital help that may otherwise slip by unnoticed. While this database is not business-specific, you can put in the time to find business grants and possibly help your business get off the ground. 

Business Resources for Women

Women in business have more opportunities than ever before. With these grants, you have a little more ammunition to reach the next level in your business adventure. If you are looking for additional grant opportunities, be sure to read our list of grants for small businesses for a general audience. Keep in mind that business isn’t all about grants. While they help, remember to focus on your revenue, bottom line, and business credit score to keep other borrowing and capital opportunities available to you and your business. Learn more about more resources, including development centers federal initiatives, and business loans for women here.

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This article was originally written on January 30, 2020.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Linsey Knerl

Linsey Knerl

Linsey Knerl is a Midwest-based author, public speaker and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources through awareness of the latest financial and tech services.

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