10 Grants You Need to Know About for Your Woman-Owned Business or Organization

March 19, 2019 6 min read

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Four out of every 10 businesses, or 40 percent, in the United States are now women-owned, according to The 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express. These businesses employ 8 percentof the total private sector workforce and contribute 4.3 percent of total revenues

The combination of women-owned businesses and firms equally owned by men and women — 14.6 million — account for 48 percent of all businesses.

In addition, the number of women-owned businesses, 2007 to 2018, grew by 58 percent, the report said.

Related: 5 Unstoppable Female Entrepreneurs Making Their Dents on the World

These numbers illlustrate what we already know: Women entrepreneurs are having a tremendous impact on the small business landscape nationwide.

Yet to continue to be competitive and grow, these entrepreneurs have to find funding for their ventures. And, alarmingly, women business owners are having trouble getting bank loans. Thankfully, they still have other options, given the rise of technology-driven financial lending sources — such as online loans, peer-to-peer loans and crowdfunding.

Then there are government grants. While not widely known or used, these grants are another great option for women seeking extra funding for their business ventures. They just take a little more work.

 

Understanding grants

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Business owners often turn to grants because they are not required to pay them back; essentially, you can look at grants as “free money,” but they come with stipulations. Also, understanding and navigating the grant process can be complex.

First, you have to research and find a grant for which you’re eligible. Then, you have to understand the strict application and compliance guidelines you must meet, to be eligible. Third, you have to compete with other businesses for the same pool of money. Fourth, if you’re awarded a grant, you must report on how you used it. Finally, you must devote time and energy to the lengthy application process, then wait for approval. In a nutshell, you need to have all of your ducks in a row, up-front and afterward.

Finding federal and state grants

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Many business owners think that federal grants are just a click away. We have all seen the ads promoting free federal money to start businesses. But this is a huge misconception. While there are federal grants available in the areas of medical research, science, education and technology development, no such grants exist specifically for women-owned businesses. You may find grants that fund projects that empower women, but such funding is often set aside for nonprofit corporations, not for-profit businesses.

When researching grants specifically for a woman-owned business, start at the state level. Most states offer grants for women-owned businesses in some capacity. Each state website has a business section where you can find grant and funding opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses. A good example of this is the business section for the state of New York, which lists incentives and programs for businesses. Check out your state’s site to find out what is available for your business.

Related: U.S. Is No. 1 for Women Entrepreneurs, But There’s Still Room for Improvement

Another great resource to use in your research is the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The MBDA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that assists minorities and women in establishing and growing their businesses. On its site, you can research grants and access links to state agencies that work with women-owned businesses for funding opportunities. Click here to view all of the state agencies across the country.

Private grants for women

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To help in your search, we gathered information on these private grants for women entrepreneurs started:

The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program: These grants, for businesses that are 100 percent women-owned and have founding principles of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation, were put on hold but are expected to be revamped as of this spring of 2019. Check the website for details.

FedEx Think Bigger — Small Business Grant Program:

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Applicants to this Fedex grant program are encouraged to share their visions to receive a portion of the $200,000 awarded in grants (Hurry! the 2019 contest ends March 25!). Part of the judging involves the general public voting for the finalists, so participants may promote their businesses while garnering votes.

Idea Café Small Business Grant:

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The Idea Café is a free gateway that hosts different grants on its site. This Small Business Cash Grant of a $1,000 grand prize to a business with the most innovative idea has honored 20 businesses to date.

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards

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The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards represent a joint partnership created in 2006 by Cartier, McKinsey & Company, and INSEAD business school, It awards annual grants to support projects by women entrepreneurs and is one of the largest and most prestigious business grants for women, but the competition is steep. The first-place prize in this international women’s business competition is $100,000 for seven “laureates”; second place comes with a $30,000 prize for seven finalists. The competition is closed for 2019 but applications open in June 2019 for 2020.

Chase Google — Mission Main Street Project:

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The Mission Main Street Grants, a partnership of JPMorgan Chase and Google, awarded $250,000 to 12 winners this year (out of 35,000 applications. Recipients also received a trip to Google headquarters. Recipients include businesses like Edibles Rex, a company dedicated to providing nutritious food for children in Detroit’s charter schools. 

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR):

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The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and R&D that has the potential for commercialization. Multiple federal agencies are involved. As of Nov. 20, 2018, agencies could award a Phase I award up to $252,131 and a Phase II award up to $1,680,879 without seeking SBA approval.

Walmart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEE):

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Grants are available for nonprofot organizations that align with the Walmart Foundation’s key areas of focus: opportunity, sustainability and community. Globally, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave $1.4 billion in cash and in-kind contributions during fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2017. And, we did it one grant and one community at a time. Nationally, grants are $250,000 and above. Eligible nonprofit organizations must operate on a national scope through chapters/affiliates in many states around the country or through programs that operate regionally/locally but seek funding to replicate program activities nationally.

The Amber Grants

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he Amber Grants began in 1998, in honor of a young woman (Amber) who died at the age of 19 — unable to fulfill her entrepreneurial dreams. The Amber Grant helps women like you achieve the dreams that Amber could not. Each grantee receives a $2,000 grant and become eligible for the annual $25,000 grant, which will be awarded at the end of 2019 to one of 12 qualifiers. Hurry! This year’s application period ends March 31.

 

The Tory Burch Fellowship

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Up to 50 finalists a year in this grant competition receive a $5,000 grant for this year-long Tory Burch Fellowship, and four-day business workshop at Tory Burch Headquarters in New York City.The $5,000 grant must be used for business education. This year’s application process ends in June.

Related: Why Access Is the Key to Women’s Equality in the Workforce

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