Small business grants

Top Small Business Grants for Women and Minorities

For an updated list of grant programs for women and minorities available in 2021, please click here.

Funding a small business can be quite the undertaking, whether you’re starting a new venture for the first time or have decades of experience in your industry.

Of course, securing capital is often necessary, but depending on what type of financing you apply to and qualify for, it can also be expensive. And you could be paying back a loan for several years (if not longer).

Business loans for women are great, but free money is even better. What if there was a different option available for the financing you need, but no need to repay it?

That situation sounds too good to be true, but it’s not — that’s exactly what a small business grant is. If you qualify for a small business grant, you get the money, no repayment terms or interest rates attached.

There are caveats, of course. For one thing, you cannot use a small business grant for just any old business expense. You typically apply for a grant for one specific purpose, and you can only use the grant money toward that purpose. Case in point: you cannot use grant money awarded for a specific project to purchase inventory for an unrelated one.

Additionally, grants are tough to qualify for. Applying to one is like applying to an Ivy League university, and potentially even more competitive, depending on the number of applicants and number of grants awarded.

Among the many small business grants out there, some are open to one specific group of people. Often, they are geared toward those who face more financial, social and political challenges gaining their footing in the business world, such as women and minorities.

While minorities own about 15 percent of small businesses in the U.S., and women own about 29 percent, it can still be more difficult for these individuals to secure small business financing (read more about that here and here).

Luckily, there are many small business grants geared toward members of these groups. Below, we’ve rounded up the top small business grants for women and minorities.

Related: 7 Small Business Grants for Entrepreneurs

Small business grants for women and minorities

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready

StartupNation has partnered with Verizon in its #VerizonSmallBusinessDigitalReady program, a free resource offering networking, technology tools, professional development and grants. Complete two courses or coaching events to be eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant. Sign up now!

The Eileen Fisher Grant Program

As of 2020, the Eileen Fisher Grant Program’s sole focus is its Supporting Women in Environmental Justice, a grant program that provides support to women taking action for environmental justice.

Beginning in 2019, the Supporting Women in Environmental Justice Grant awarded $200,000 annually in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $40,000. This year, the grant committee will accept applications from April 1 through April 30, 2020.

Grow by Invoice2go
Grow by Invoice2go is our way of recognizing the contributions and untapped potential of small business owners from underrepresented groups. That is why we’re giving away $200,000 to help small business owners from minority communities take their next steps.

The Amber Grant for Women

WomensNet awards one winner with $10,000 each month of the year, and one of those 12 monthly winners will receive an additional $25,000 by the end of the year. The grant has been awarding women with entrepreneurial dreams since first launching in 1998.

Minority Business Development Agency

If you are a minority business owner, be sure to regularly check out the MBDA for grant opportunities. They also provide a number of other educational resources for minority entrepreneurs.

NASE Growth Grant

The National Association for the Self-Employed offers a $4,000 business development grant, which aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level. To be eligible for this grant, you must be a member of NASE and be able to identify a particular small business need for which you will use the financing. Thus far, NASE has awarded $1,000,000 in grant funding.

Originally published Aug. 24, 2017. Updated Nov. 16, 2021.

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready: A free resource for learning basic business skills, the latest digital technology and grants.

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