5 Small-Business Grants for Women-Owned Businesses: Get Access to Free Capital
Starting your own business can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. While having the autonomy to run the business on your terms is quite a perk, being responsible for the funding can be a significant challenge for many.
You should know that, as a female entrepreneur, you have the option to apply for grants for women-owned businesses. This comes with many more advantages than applying for traditional business loans. Read on to find out why.
What Are Small Business Grants?
Small business grants for women are designed to help female entrepreneurs fund their startups. Unlike traditional small business loans and lines of credit, a grant is not meant to be paid back. For that reason, they are more challenging to acquire.
There are specific criteria one must meet to qualify, which vary across different grant offers. In many cases, there can be only one winner, although some of the finalists may also get awarded.
It also typically involves a long waiting period, from the time it takes for the applications to close to when the winners are announced. Nevertheless, the winners get free capital which can help kickstart a business or keep it afloat.
The Top Grants for Female Business Owners in 2024
Statistics suggest that as many as 38% of startups don’t succeed due to insufficient funds. That’s why it’s essential that you carefully review different funding opportunities. There are several options when it comes to grants for women starting a business, so let’s take a look at a list of grants with eligibility requirements, sums offered, and other important information.
Amber Grant for Women
The Amber Grant Foundation was established in 1998 with the aim of helping fund women's small businesses. To become eligible for an Amber grant, applicants must be at least 18 years old, and the company should be minimally 50% female owned. Lastly, only businesses located in the US or Canada are deemed eligible.
The foundation offers as many as six different types of grants. These include:
- Monthly Amber Grant
- Business Category Grant
- $25,000 Annual Amber Grant
- Non-Profit Grant
- Mini Grant
- Marketing Grant
The Monthly Amber Grant is awarded each month. First, five finalists are chosen; one is pronounced the winner and receives $10,000. The top candidate also becomes eligible for the $25,000 Annual Amber Grant. The remaining four finalists get a grant of $1,000.
The Business Category Grants are similar to the Monthly Amber Grant in that they provide $10,000 to one winner every month.
The difference is that in this type of grant, a specific business category is chosen each month, and only women-owned small businesses in that category are eligible. Some of the categories for the year 2022 include health and fitness, mental and emotional support, animal services, and fashion design.
When it comes to the $25,000 Annual Amber Grant, there are two recipients of the $25,000 prize each year. One of the winners is selected from the group of Monthly Amber Grant winners. The other is one of the previous winners of the Business Category Grant.
As expected, only non-profit organizations can apply for the Non-Profit Grant. One candidate in each quarter is given $10,000.
The Mini Grant gives women business owners smaller amounts of money than the grant types mentioned above. There is no set amount of winners, but the budget for 2022 is $48,000. The chosen candidates get up to $2,000.
Finally, the Marketing Grant has two recipients a year. It’s substantially different from the other women-owned business grants from the Amber Grant Foundation, given that the winners don’t receive funds. Instead, they are offered support in the form of professional marketing sessions.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Award
The Cartier Women’s Initiative gives out grants to female entrepreneurs annually. Here is what is required of the candidates to qualify:
- The applicant needs to be a woman who has taken on a leadership position, such as that of a CEO, General Manager, or Managing Director.
- The majority owners of the business must be its team members and founders.
- The applicant can’t be younger than 18.
- The applicant’s English must be at least at the B2 Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level.
- The business must generate enough revenue to support its operations, and it must have generated that much revenue for at least one year from the date of application.
- The business must have been registered for at least one year and up to six years.
- The business must not have raised more than $2 million in dilutive funding.
- The applicant must complete the fellowship program, which lasts for a year.
The first-place awardee is granted $100,000, the runner-up gets $60,000, and the third place is awarded $30,000. The grants are given out across nine different regions.
In 2020, Comcast NBCUniversal started a project with the goal of diversifying the pool of people who receive grants for their business ventures. For that reason, it’s offering business grants for women and people of color. The pre-requisites for the Comcast Rise grant applicants to qualify are:
- A minimum of 51% of the business must be owned by a person of color or a woman.
- The business must have 25 or fewer employees working full-time or part-time.
- The business must be established for at least three years.
The foundation offers 500 grants of $10,000. The winners are equally distributed across five different cities.
SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
The SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant was created by the SoGal Foundation to bridge the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and funding opportunities since, according to their website, only 0.5% of Black women entrepreneurs receive venture capital funding. The foundation gives out $5,000 and $10,000 grants to Black women and Black non-binary entrepreneurs. The eligibility requirements are as follows:
- The candidate should be a Black woman or a Black non-binary small business owner (this includes multi-racial Black individuals).
- The business needs to be legally registered.
- The candidate should have a plan to employ investor financing.
- The candidate should have a feasible business idea that has the potential to contribute to the exponential growth of the business.
To make these Black women small business grants possible, the foundation has partnered with Walmart.org’s Center for Racial Equity, bluemercury, twelveNYC, Winky Lux, Twilio, and several other companies and organizations.
Women Who Tech
Women Who Tech offers grants for women-led startups in the technology sector. Currently on offer is the Tech Startup Grant. The eligibility requirements are as follows:
- There must be at least one female founder or co-founder in the company.
- The company’s product must be at least in the beta stage.
- The company shouldn’t have raised more than $7 million.
- The business should be experiencing growth.
- The company must use technology that allows scaling beyond the limitations of traditional small businesses.
- All business ideas must be original or developments of existing ones without plagiarism.
The prizes include a $15,000 Innovation Grant, a $5,000 Impact Grant, and one-on-one coaching. Businesses from all around the world are eligible. Non-profits may also apply as long as they meet the criteria outlined above.
On a Final Note
As you can see, there is a range of attractive options regarding female business owner grants. Women may also try for other grants for small business owners that do not necessarily cater solely to women, such as the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.
How can a woman get money to start a business?
An excellent option for women to collect funds to start a business is to apply for women's business startup grants. However, that’s not the only solution. Alternative options include crowdfunding, small business loans, business lines of credit, SBA loans, equity financing, and business acquisition loans.
Where is the best place to look for grants?
The best place to look for grants depends on who you are and what kind of business you run. Some good women's small business grants include the Amber Grant, Cartier Women’s Initiative, and SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant.
Is the Amber Grant a real grant?
Yes, Amber Grant is a legitimate grant. It offers six types of grants for women-owned businesses. For instance, the Monthly Amber Grant gives one winner $10,000, while the other four finalists get $1,000.
For years, the clients I worked for were banks. That gave me an insider’s view of how banks and other institutions create financial products and services. Then I entered the world of journalism. Fortunly is the result of our fantastic team’s hard work. I use the knowledge I acquired as a bank copywriter to create valuable content that will help you make the best possible financial decisions.