Here’s the Scoop on Small Business Grants for Women

5 min read • Mar 01, 2021 • Grant Olsen

The past decade has been monumental for women who own businesses. Not only are such businesses growing faster than any other kind, but these strong female leaders are achieving astounding results. With a woman at the helm, businesses are more efficient with their capital, see better ROI, score more revenue, and outperform male-led businesses by more than 60%.

And all this is accomplished despite the egregious gender gap in funding! Seriously, if you aren’t impressed by these statistics, you don’t have a pulse. Thankfully, the funding disparity is less severe now than in the past. But it’s still a stark reminder of the difficulties women face in the world of entrepreneurship. And it’s essential that female entrepreneurs are aware of the special resources and grants available to help level the playing field.

Every year, tens of millions of dollars are given away in the form of grants. Most of these small business grants come from the federal government or private grant programs. A select number are earmarked as business grants for women and startup business funding for women.

Ready to jump in? The great news is that there are federal grants for women and other sources of free money for women starting businesses. Here are some prime examples:

  • The Eileen Fisher Women in Environmental Justice Grants: Does your business make a positive impact on environmental justice? If so, you might qualify for these women-owned business grants of up to $40,000.
  • The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards: Each year, 7 women are awarded these $100,000 grants to develop their businesses. If that weren’t amazing enough, an additional 14 grants worth $30,000 apiece are also given out.
  • Amber Grants for Women: Awarded monthly, these grants for women provide $10,000 to businesses across the country. At the end of the year, a top recipient is chosen from the 12 winners to receive an additional $25,000.
  • The Tony Burch Foundation’s Fellows Program: With its focus on empowerment, this program is quite impressive. Women entrepreneurs can apply for a shot at 100 grants of $5,000 each.
  • #GIRLBOSS Foundation Grants: These grants are valued at $15,000 and 2 are awarded annually. If you’re a woman who works in the creative world, you should definitely consider applying.
  • Open Meadows Foundation: Organizations doing meaningful things to help other women should apply for these small business grants for women. They’re worth $2,000 and can provide a boost for your efforts.
  • SBA Community Organization Grants

You’re probably familiar with the borrower-friendly loans facilitated by the SBA, but these community organization grants can be an excellent way to secure additional funding.

  • Grants.gov: Federal grants are among the best ways for small businesses to secure additional funding. And this database serves as a sort of “Amazon.com” for these grants.
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grants: These grants support tech-related research and development. You can peruse the current options to see if your small business qualifies.

It takes work to secure government grants for women and other free money for women starting businesses. First, you’ll need to find a grant that you qualify for. Next comes the application, which can be an arduous process. Due to intense competition, most grant applications are denied. But your efforts are never in vain because every time you apply for a grant, you’ll learn more about the process and get closer to obtaining these crucial funds for your small business.

FAQ

How do I qualify for a small business grant?

Each grant comes with its own set of qualifications. For example, most of the grants listed above are exclusive for businesses that are led by women. Others are open to all small business owners. Some are only intended for businesses that are making an impact in society or on the environment, while others welcome businesses of all stripes.

Be sure to carefully read all of the qualifications before applying for government grants for women and other grants for women so that you don’t waste your time submitting for opportunities you don’t qualify for.

What is the difference between WOSB and WBE?

If you want to bid for government contracts that are intended for businesses owned by women, you’ll need to certify through the US Small Business Administration to be included among the nation’s Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB).

If you want to certify in the private sector, you need to go through a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certifying agency. Prominent options include:

Your WBE certification will be valid with nearly all companies that you would like to connect with. There’s a chance that your WBE certification would also be accepted by some federal agencies, but if you plan to seek government contracts, you should give yourself the best chance of success with WOSB certification.

How do I self-certify a woman-owned business?

In the past, small businesses could self-certify. But the requirement moving forward is that you’ll need to apply for certification through the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program or through a third-party certifying agency.

Grant Olsen

Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on FitSmallBusiness.com and ModernHealthcare.com. Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.