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Best Startup and Small Business Grants For Women

What are Business Grants for Women?

When you start a small business, there’s one thing you need more than anything else: money. Business grants are here to give you free money to set up your business. Sounds good, right?

Business grants are different from business loans, because you don’t need to repay them. The downside is that it can be harder to qualify for a business grant than for a business loan. But if you’re a woman starting a new business, it’s easier to qualify for dedicated grants for women’s small business.

What are the Best Grants for Women Starting a Business?

If you’re looking for the best business and small business grants for women, here are some helpful places to start your search.

Government Grants for Women

These are supported by the government. Most of them are for all small business owners, not just for women, but they are still worth checking out. They include:

  • SBA grants. The SBA (Small Business Association) offers only a few grants, to businesses involved in medical or scientific research.
  • Grants.gov is the place to find government grants for small businesses. You can search for grants that are suitable for your business using keywords and filters.
  • InnovateHER Challenge. This is a yearly competition run by the SBA for businesses that positively affect the lives of women and families. You have to win your local InnovateHER Challenge to enter the national final. In 2017, the 3 winners won grants of $10,000 to $40,000 for their businesses.

Local Small Business Grants

Some grants for women owned business grants are only open to residents of some cities or states.

  • Zions Bank Smart Women Contest is open to women in Utah and Idaho only.
  • Every state has economic development resources, funded by the US Economic Development Administration. They often give grants to local businesses because they want to see local economies succeed.  
  • Small business development centers. You’ll find that the SBA runs small business development centers all around the country. Although they don’t give grants, they do offer free business consulting, training and help in getting funding for your business.
  • Women’s business centers (WBC) are also run by the SBA. WBCs help you to learn how to manage your business and find more funds, but they are only for women businesses.  

Private Business Grants for Women

These are business grants for women that are funded by private companies or organizations. Some of the best private grants for women starting a business are:

  • Eileen Fisher grants. These are women owned business grants for businesses that have a positive social and environmental impact. 10 businesses each year get up to $10,000. You need to have been in business for at least three years to apply.
  • Cartier Women’s Initiative. This grant is for new businesses owned by women. $30,000 is given to each of the 18 finalists, and the overall winner gets $100,000.
  • Amber Grant. This is a small grant of $1,000. It’s given once a month to a women-owned business. Each year, one of those winning businesses is given another grant of $10,000.
  • GIRLBOSS Foundation Grant. This is awarded once every two years. The 2 winners each get $15,000 of funding, plus support and advice from the GirlBoss Foundation. It’s only for women owned businesses in fashion, music or other creatives industries.
  • The Halstead Grant. This grant for women owned businesses is only for those in the jewelry industry. The winner gets $7,500 in grant money, plus $1,000 for Halstead jewelry supplies. It’s only for businesses that are less than three years old.
  • Women Founders Network (WFN) Fast Pitch. Three lucky winners get $2,500, $5,000 or $7,500 in grant money from this competition. It’s only for businesses that are up and running already and are owned and led by women.

How Can I Get Business Grants for Women?

grants for women starting a businessWhen you apply for business grants for women, you already have a better chance of winning. That’s because at least 50% of people – the male ones – aren’t eligible. But there are still steps you can take to boost your hopes of success.

  • Read the application requirements very carefully. Some grants are only for businesses that are under three years old; others are only for businesses over three years old. Make sure you choose one that really fits your business.
  • Follow the application instructions all the way. Don’t skip any documents that it asks you for, and don’t be late for the application deadline.
  • Prepare a very clear business plan. Describe what your business does and exactly how the grant will help. Be as detailed as you can.
  • Bring in outside experts, like an accountant or a business advisor. It looks good to have an expert on your team.
  • Check that your business has all necessary licensed. Make sure you have valid general liability insurance for your business. It shows that you are responsible and reliable. Good luck!

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