The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all businesses, but women-led firms are particularly at risk. While representing a minority of businesses in the US (40%), women-owned businesses make up a majority of growth over the last decade. They also make up a majority of the businesses in some of the most vulnerable and essential industries right now: healthcare, hospitality and food service, and administration. Even in good times, female entrepreneurs face structural barriers that mean women start fewer businesses and make less money when they do. Despite this, women-owned businesses led the recovery from the last economic crisis in 2008, disproportionately thriving while male-owned businesses shed jobs.
In other words, women-owned businesses are some of the most needed right now—and the most at risk. So how can female entrepreneurs protect their organizations?
We’ve compiled a list of resources specifically for women-owned businesses. Some resources are directly related to the pandemic, and some are more general. We’ve added details about some popular options that are unfortunately no longer available—though second rounds of funding may come through later.
Tory Burch Foundation
The Tory Burch Foundation has turned its site into a clearinghouse of resources for navigating the pandemic. Of particular interest is the webinar from Tory Burch and the US Chamber of Commerce on how to apply for pandemic relief funds and tips specifically for female entrepreneurs.
The National Association of Women Business Owners has lobbied for women-owned businesses since 1975. For the pandemic, they have compiled resources through the NAWBO Institute, and it’s free to sign up for an account.
Hello Alice Business For All
In conjunction with Verizon, the business networking organization Hello Alice is offering grants of up to $50,000, including $10,000 emergency grants available immediately. According to the updated rules, applications for the COVID grants will close on July 16.
IFW COVID-19 Relief Fund
IFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform (like Kickstarter) for women-owned businesses, is offering microgrants to those affected by the pandemic. All you have to do is start a campaign on their platform. It also has the added benefit of allowing your friends and supporters to donate to your business online. The website says the microgrants will be awarded on a rolling basis and does not have information on the size of the grants.
Facebook Small Business Grants Program
Facebook is now giving back with $100 million in cash grants and ad credits. Eligible businesses will have to meet certain qualifications regarding operation size (fewer than 50 employees, much smaller than the SBA’s upper limit for a small business) and have experienced hardship due to the coronavirus, among other requirements. And according to Facebook Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams, the company is “prioritizing 50% of grants to eligible minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses due to the disproportionate negative impact that COVID-19 will have on these businesses, their employees, and the communities that they serve.”
Red Backpack Fund
Sara Blakely became the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world at the time after developing Spanx. The company was supposedly started with $5,000 and her favorite red college backpack, giving the name to her philanthropic organization. In the face of the global pandemic, Blakely has pledged $5 million to female entrepreneurs. GlobalGiving is administering the fund, distributing 1,000 grants of $5,000 each, and you can apply on their website. Each recipient will also get their own red backpack stuffed with goodies and a free annual all-access pass to MasterClass.
SheaMoisture Entrepreneur E-Lab
While SheaMoisture’s grant application may be closed (see below), it is still accepting registration for its entrepreneur e-lab. The program is meant to help women of color plan for the economic downturn and recovery with the help of online seminars, chats, and resources. Experts will include contributors from Sundial Brands (Unilever) and Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business.
They are too numerous to list here, but almost every locality has resources to support businesses. Check for organizations to support women-owned businesses in your city, county, and state to find geographically-based loans and grants.
Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program
Remember, just because there’s a pandemic happening doesn’t mean that all relief efforts are pandemic-related—many SBA programs existed before the quarantine. That includes this program to provide equal opportunities to female entrepreneurs in “industries where women-owned small businesses (WOSB) are underrepresented.” Under this contracting program, certain contracts are awarded with limited competition.
Women’s Business Centers
Another long-running program from the SBA, Women’s Business Centers “offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance, and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing, and procurement,” according to a recent press release. There are almost 150 across the country, so visit the SBA website to find the one covering your region.
Funds To Check Back On
Bumble Community Grants
As of April 6, Bumble had closed applications for grants in the US. Applications were still open for the grants for a maximum of $5,000, in Germany, France, and Russia.
The Local Initiative Support Corporation closed the applications for their latest round of grants on April 28. The organization aims to help small businesses, “especially those in underserved communities, including entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses that often lack access to flexible, affordable capital.”
SheaMoisture Community Commerce Fund
The company is awarding grants to businesses owned by women of color that can continue to operate virtually or remotely. Applications closed April 13.
Anonymous Was A Woman
AWAW was granting up to $2,500 to “women-identifying visual artists over the age of 40 in the US” who lost work due to the pandemic. Other opportunities are still available through the NYFA.