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Business Grants for Women: 13 Options

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Content was accurate at the time of publication.

Business grants for women help women-owned businesses get access to capital. Unlike a business loan, grants are free money, which means that you usually don’t have to pay the money back. Applying for grants takes a lot of effort, and competition is stiff — but if you’re up to the challenge, here are several business grants for women to consider.

Private business grants for women

1. National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants

  • Grant amount: Up to $4,000.
  • Eligibility requirements: You must have a paid NASE membership.
  • Application process: Apply on NASE’s website after logging in.

As an organization that offers resources for entrepreneurs and business owners, NASE awards Growth Grants of up to $4,000 to four recipients every quarter. This could be a good option for women-owned businesses, because NASE funds can be used for expenses related to growth and expansion, including hiring new workers, marketing your business, investing in equipment and more. To be eligible, you must be a NASE member who’s been in good standing in the three months leading up to your application if you’re paying on a monthly basis. You can apply directly through the NASE website.

2. IFundWomen

  • Grant amount: Varies
  • Eligibility requirements: Varies
  • Application process: Complete a universal application to be matched to other grants that you can apply for.

IFundWomen is a platform that connects female business owners with a variety of funding options, including potential grant opportunities. Business owners submit their applications to a grant database. If your application is a good match for one of IFundWomen’s grant partners, you’ll be invited to apply. Grant amounts vary from partner to partner, but past awards have ranged anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000.

3. Amber Grants for women

  • Grant amount: $10,000, with the possibility to earn one annual $25,000 award.
  • Eligibility requirements: You must be 18 or older, female and at least the 50% owner of a U.S. or Canadian business.
  • Application process: Pay a $15 application fee and apply on the website.

Three $10,000 Amber Grants for women are awarded each month and, at the end of the year, three monthly grantees can win an additional $25,000 grant. To apply, you’ll need to fill out an application, pay a $15 fee and answer some questions about your business and what you would do with any grant money.

4. Tory Burch Foundation

  • Grant amount: $5,000, live mentorship event in New York City and access to zero-interest business loans.
  • Eligibility requirements: To qualify, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old, female, proficient in English, a legal U.S. resident, be at least the 51% owner of a business and have started a U.S. business within the past five years, earning at least $75,000 annually.
  • Application process: Apply online during the fall of each year.

The Tory Burch Foundation runs an annual fellows program for 50 woman-identifying founders of early-stage, for-profit businesses. It’s a yearlong program providing a wide range of support that includes workshops and a $5,000 grant. The 2024 application period has closed. In the past, applications for the upcoming year have opened in the fall.

To qualify, you must own the largest or equal stake in a qualifying business that is majority owned and controlled by women. You must also be a legal U.S. resident, proficient in English and at least 21 years old. Minimum revenue of $75,000 is preferred.

5. Halstead Grant

  • Grant amount: $1,000 or $7,500, plus a $250 or $1,000 gift card.
  • Eligibility requirements: You must have started a silver jewelry business within the past five years.
  • Application process: Apply online by May 1.

Up-and-coming silver jewelry artists can apply for the Halstead Grant. The annual award gives a $7,500 grant every year to one winner, plus a $1,000 Halstead gift card. The family-owned jewelry company also presents finalists with a $1,000 grant and a $250 Halstead gift card, plus extra help to promote their businesses. Jewelry artists must share their design portfolio and complete an online application that includes a collection of business-related questions.

6. EmpowHer Grants

  • Grant amount: Up to $25,000.
  • Eligibility requirements: To qualify, you’ll need to be at least 22, female and have a business registered and operating in the U.S. that’s less than three years old. Businesses must address certain social needs, such as building stronger communities or environmental sustainability.
  • Application process: Apply online with a business plan and budget.

You can apply for up to $25,000 in grant funding to expand your existing business with the Boundless Futures Foundation’s EmpowHer Grant. Applications are reviewed quarterly, and if your grant proposal is selected, you’ll need to undergo a formal background check. In addition, funding is only available as a reimbursement for expenses you’ll need to pay for first — you won’t get cash up front, and you’ll need the receipts for your business expenses.

7. Enthuse Foundation

  • Grant amount: $2,500.
  • Eligibility requirements: The grant is open to full-time female business owners in the U.S. who can demonstrate financial need.
  • Application process: Apply online with a written plan for the grant funds. May need to participate in an interview.

Each year, the Enthuse Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting female business owners with educational resources, networking events and grants, awards $2,500 to 24 female entrepreneurs. Award information for the 2025 grant cycle will be announced on the website when available.

8. High Five Grant for Moms

  • Grant amount: $1,000 to $10,000.
  • Eligibility requirements: This grant is open to mothers (including stepmoms and foster moms) who are at least 50% owners in a business that’s been operational for one year or more.
  • Application process: Apply online during the fall of each year.

The Mama Ladder bills this as the “World’s Longest-Running Grant Program for Mom Entrepreneurs,” having launched in 2018. Applications open every year in the fall, and in 2023, 24 moms were awarded grant money and valuable business prizes worth a collective total of $38,500. Any mother is welcome to apply, whether you’re currently pregnant or if you have grown children.

9. Brown Girl Jane with SheaMoisture

  • Grant amount: $10,000 to $25,000.
  • Eligibility requirements: This grant is open to Black women who own a beauty or wellness business that is registered and based in the U.S. and has been in operation for at least one year
  • Application process: Applications open in Fall 2024. Information will be available on SheaMoisture’s website.

Brown Girl Jane, a vegan perfume brand, has partnered with SheaMoisture to offer grants to Black-owned beauty businesses. The companies have partnered to offer over $400,000 in grants since 2020. SheaMoisture has also offered additional grants on their website, so it’s worth checking to see which ones are currently accepting applications.

10. Ladies Who Launch

This one’s not technically a grant, but it can help you find one. Grant opportunities are always changing, which makes it tough to stay up to date with any one static resource. That’s why checking in with a grant database on a regular basis can be helpful, and the one compiled by Ladies Who Launch is one of the best.

This nonprofit was founded in 2013 to support women and gender-diverse small business owners. Along with networking and online training events, it also maintains a list of small business grants for women that it updates on a weekly basis.

As of this writing, it lists 116 grant opportunities.  

Federal business grants for women

11. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs

  • Grant amount: $50,000 to $750,000.
  • Eligibility requirements: Open to small U.S. businesses with 500 or fewer employees.
  • Application process: Varies depending on the agency offering funding through this program.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs award federal grant funding for research and development. They don’t provide funding solely for women, but part of their mission is to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among women and socially or economically marginalized groups, so they can be a great option to consider if your business does anything related to technological innovation.

To be eligible for a grant, you must have a for-profit business based in the U.S., employ no more than 500 workers and meet certain business ownership requirements. Awards can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the grant and specific project.

12. USDA Rural Development Business Program Grants

  • Grant amount: Varies by program.
  • Eligibility requirements: Varies by program.
  • Application process: Varies by program.

If you run a small business in a rural area, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development Business Program could unlock much-needed financing. It isn’t limited to women-run businesses but certainly applies to them. The program provides funding and technical assistance for a wide range of rural businesses.

13. Grants.gov

Grants.gov is a central database for federal grant programs, including hundreds of grants for nonprofits that support small businesses. The federal government does not typically fund business owners directly, except to fund certain research and development projects from individual companies. Although it is not exclusively for women-owned businesses, it can be a great resource and starting point to help you find funding opportunities by locating organizations that have received funding to help people who have similar goals as you.

Other resources for women-owned small businesses

In addition to business grants for women, female entrepreneurs can also take advantage of other resources. Here are a few alternatives to small business grants:

Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program

The Small Business Administration (SBA) runs the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting program with the goal of awarding at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned businesses. To be eligible, your business must be at least 51% women-owned and operated and you must apply for certification through the SBA.

The SBA sets aside contracts for women who are participating in this federal contracting program, deliberately choosing industries where female-owned businesses are either disadvantaged or underrepresented. Participants in the program then vie for these contracts.

8(a) Business Development Program

The 8(a) Business Development Program is a program established by the SBA that gives minority-owned businesses the ability to compete for federal contracts. To be eligible, you must get certified through the SBA, and your business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged.

Small Business Development Centers

As an extension of the SBA, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are local chapters that offer coaching and training to entrepreneurs. These centers can help women-owned businesses with business planning, strategy and accessing capital. There are SBDCs in every U.S. state and territory, with more than 900 service locations — so you’re bound to find one near you.

How to strengthen your grant application

Like college scholarships, small business grants can be tremendously competitive. Here are a few tips to boost your chances of getting free funding:

  • Read the grant eligibility criteria and requirements carefully.
  • Include detailed information about how you’ll use the grant funds.
  • Save all business grant applications so you can reuse materials later as needed.
  • Hire a grant writer if you’re not confident in your own skills to put together a winning grant application.
  • Tailor your application for each grant organization, especially how your business’s story and goals relate to that organization’s mission.
  • Grants that include educational opportunities may be less competitive and provide additional valuable opportunities to learn and grow.

Alternatives to grants

Small business grants are an excellent way to fund your small business, but they’re not the only way. Business owners may need to obtain funding from different sources, including:

  • Crowdfunding: Popular platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe allow you to raise funds for startup or established businesses from people interested in your product, with little risk if you fail.
  • Angel investors: A person who has a high net worth may opt to invest funds in new businesses as a way to help other entrepreneurs become successful, offering funding and guidance in exchange for a share of the profits.
  • Personal savings: Many business owners launch small businesses with personal savings or assets, such as home equity or a 401(k).
  • Small business loans: Banks, credit unions and online finance companies may offer funding to businesses in the form of a loan, which must be repaid with interest.
  • Starting small and scaling up: Launching on a micro level — such as with a booth at your local farmer’s market — lowers the barrier to entry and allows you to test the waters before jumping in with a more advanced financing tool like a loan or outside investor.

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