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15 Minority Small Business Grants
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Minority small business grants can help business owners who belong to historically marginalized communities obtain the capital resources they need. People of color often face more challenges related to securing funding than their white peers, and minority business grants help close the gap. They’re available from public and private entities and, unlike loans, which must be repaid with interest, grants typically do not require repayment.
15 minority small business grants
Some small business grants have very specific requirements or are limited to different industries and communities, so if you do not find a grant that fits your business, consider applying for a minority business loan. Here’s our list of 15 minority business grants.
- USDA Rural Business Development Grants
- Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Grants
- Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs
- Health and Human Services Department Office of Minority Health Grant Programs
- National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants
- FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
- Coalition to Back Black Businesses Grants
- Ureeka PowerUp Program Grants
- First Nations Development Institute Grants
- National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Scale-Up Pitch Challenge
- NAACP Black-Owned Business Grants
- Galaxy Grants
- Comcast RISE
- Visa She’s Next Black Women-Owned Business Grant Program
Grants.gov is a federal database that allows users to search for and apply to nationally-funded grants. You can narrow your search based on factors like eligibility, such as Native American tribal organizations, and categories, such as health.
Before applying, you will need a DUNS number, which functions like your company’s Social Security number as you search for grants. Some opportunities may also require that you be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM).
2. USDA Rural Business Development Grants
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers Rural Business Development Grants for non-urban entities, including small businesses, towns and nonprofit corporations. The grant award typically ranges from $10,000 to $500,000 and can be used to purchase real estate, machinery and equipment; to develop business plans, job training programs and more.
It is not limited to minority businesses, but there are three main qualifications:
- You must have fewer than 50 employees
- You must generate less than $1 million in annual gross revenue
- You must live in a rural area or town
The USDA defines rural as an area having less than 50,000 inhabitants, that doesn’t neighbor an urban area with 50,000 or more inhabitants. Before applying, check out any state-specific requirements with your state’s USDA’s Rural Development office.
3. Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Grants
The Office of Indian Economic Development funds business feasibility studies to help tribal leaders pinpoint economic opportunities and provide documentation for lenders and investors. Most award amounts are between $25,000 and $75,000, but there is no set minimum or maximum. To apply, you must complete the Application for Federal Assistance SF-424.
4. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs
The SBIR and STTR programs are two federal grants that help small businesses in the research, development and commercialization of new technology. They are administered by several agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation and NASA. You do not have to be a minority-owned business to qualify, but your organization must be for-profit, based in the U.S., have less than 500 employees (including affiliates) and be at least 50% owned and operated by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
The award amounts depend on the research phase. Phase I awards typically range between $50,000 to $250,000. Phase II awards are typically $750,000 for two years.
5. Health and Human Services Department Office of Minority Health Grant Programs
The Office of Minority Health seeks to help organizations use data, develop and implement strategies that have a positive impact on the health of minority populations. Grant receivers focus on minority access to and/or use of health programs and their outcomes. A currently-funded project focuses on advancing COVID-19 public health information in minority populations.
6. National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants
NASE Growth Grants help small businesses to expand by providing $4,000 for small business growth initiatives, such as training new employees, expanding marketing efforts and investing in new equipment. To be eligible, you must be a member of NASE in good standing. A regular, annual membership costs $120.
7. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
The application window for the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest has closed for 2022 but may open again in February next year. This year, FedEx will award ten winners. The three grand prize winners receive $50,000 in grant funds and $4,000 worth of FedEx Office print services. Seven first-place winners receive $20,000 in cash and $1,500 worth of FedEx Office print services.
To be eligible, you must be a legal resident of the U.S., have no more than 99 employees and not be in competition with FedEx.
8. Coalition to Back Black Businesses Grants
This program supports Black-owned small businesses with funds to help recover from the pandemic’s impact, and mentorship and educational resources for longer-term guidance. Awarded funds include $5,000 grants and $25,000 enhancement grants. Applications are due in September and grant payments are expected to clear before December.
- You must have been financially harmed by COVID-19
- You must employ between three and 20 people
- Your business must be located in a “distressed community”
- Your business must have at least 51% Black ownership
9. Ureeka PowerUp Program Grants
The PowerUp Program is geared toward Latino-owned small businesses located in California, Texas or New York. Grant awards are for $5,000 and include business coaching that focuses on the small business’s foundation, gaining customers and financial stability.
10. First Nations Development Institute Grants
First Nations Development Institute provides financial and technical resources to Native tribes and non-profit organizations. Their grant opportunities include a green jobs initiative that is built to award $100,000 to 10 entities fighting climate change effects, and a Food Pantry Initiative that will award $10,000 grants to 12 groups.
11. National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Scale-Up Pitch Challenge
This grant competition allows Black entrepreneurs to pitch their start up to early-stage investors and venture capitalists. There are four winners, with first place receiving $50,000; second place, $10,000; third place, $7,500; and the “people’s choice award,” receiving $1,000. To apply, you must have an original idea, your business must be in the early stages of development, at least 33% of the company ownership must be Black and one founder must be a member of NBMBAA. Application dates for 2022 haven’t been announced yet, but last year’s submission deadline was in July.
If competing in a pitch challenge isn’t appealing, here are startup business loan options.
12. NAACP Black-Owned Business Grants
The NAACP partners with several organizations to award grants for Black business owners across industries. Award amounts and eligibility criteria depend on the specific grant. Two ongoing programs are:
- NAACP and Hello Alice: Provides grants of $25,000 and assistance with design and marketing to Black-owned small businesses.
- NAACP x BACARDI: Awards $10,000 grants to Black-owned businesses in the alcohol service, sales and hospitality industries.
13. Galaxy Grants
Galaxy of Stars is an online platform built for minority and women entrepreneurs, offering business advice, networking and free website hosting. The Galaxy Grant is worth $2,750. Applicants must be an ethnic minority or a woman who currently owns a business or wants to start one, and has a free Galaxy of Stars membership.
14. Comcast RISE
Comcast RISE provides cash grants, services and equipment to small businesses owned by people of color and women who have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Grants are worth $10,000 and applications are due in June. To be eligible, businesses must be at least 51% owned by a person of color or a woman, independently owned and operated, registered in the U.S. and located within the Comcast Business or Effectv service area.
15. Visa She’s Next Black Women-Owned Business Grant Program
Visa, in partnership with IFundWomen, offers the She’s Next grant program to award 60 Black women entrepreneurs with $10,000 in funding and a one-year coaching membership to help them start, manage and grow their company. Applicants must have their business in one of six U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Miami, Chicago, Detroit or Atlanta. If you’re curious, here’s a study on the places with the most Black-owned businesses.
Other resources for minority small businesses
In addition to grants, there are entrepreneurship coaching or contract assistance programs available specifically to minority-owned small businesses.
SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
The Small Business Administration’s 8(a) business development program is not a loan or a grant, but a benefit for minority-owned businesses provides business development assistance and allows small businesses to compete for federal contracts. To qualify, you must have minority owned business certification with the SBA.
The eligibility criteria:
- Be a small business. The SBA generally defines a small business as having fewer than 500 employees. This can vary depending on the industry; you can check your business size here.
- Not have previously participated in the 8(a) program. The SBA 8(a) program lasts for nine years and its graduates are generally not allowed to repeat the program.
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are socially and economically disadvantaged. According to federal regulations, a person is economically disadvantaged when they have less access to capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same or similar line of business. This includes Indian tribes, Alaskan native corporations, community development corporations and native Hawaiian organizations.
- Fall under a maximum amount of worth, income and assets. Have a personal net worth of $750 thousand or less, adjusted gross income of $350 thousand or less and assets totaling $6 million or less.
- Demonstrate good character. Examples of good character include a lack of criminal activity, being up-to-date on federal taxes and not violating SBA regulations. If you do have a criminal history, there are business grants for felons available.
- Demonstrate the potential for success. You typically must have been in business for at least two years.
Operation Hope Programs
Operation Hope is an initiative to provide current and future Black business owners with the training and industry-expert connections that can help them to succeed in starting or revamping their company. Three main services are available: the HOPE Business Plan Builder that addresses company foundations like market research and financial planning; entrepreneurship training, which is an eight-week program; and one-on-one coaching on topics like credit and money management.
Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
The MBDA is a federal agency that focuses on helping minority-owned businesses access capital, contracts and markets. It does not offer grants or loans directly to small businesses but instead supports local Minority Business Centers that offer consulting, procurement matching and financial assistance.
National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
This agency primarily offers to help minority-owned businesses tap into larger corporate and public-sector supply chains to increase their sales. NMSDC has over 1,500 corporate members and 13,000 certified minority-owned businesses registered.