business grants

11 Women-Focused Business Grants

Women are a core pillar in business, but in far too many cases women face inordinate challenges and find themselves behind their male counterparts based on several measures when it comes to business ownership and incomes. While there are many incredibly successful entrepreneurs that come to mind when discussing women in business, women remain underrepresented at the workplace and often earn less than their male counterparts for the same work. These 11 grants are doing something to solve that problem. If you are a woman looking to start or grow a business, these female-focused business grants may be just what you need to get to the next level.

1. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program

The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant is one of the best known women focused grant programs around. Since 2004, this grant program has helped women-owned companies that are already beyond the startup phase expand their business, with attention paid to social and environmental impact.

Eileen Fisher is a women’s clothing brand, and it awards $100,000 in annual grants. Up to 10 recipients get at least $10,000 injected into their business. Learn more at Eileen Fisher.

2. SBA InnovateHER Challenge

The Small Business Association, or SBA, is responsible for the InnovateHER Challenge. This competitive process goes back to 2015, and awards three InnovateHER Challenge awards ranging from $10,000 to $40,000. Applicants go through a rigorous process, and ten finalists get major press coverage through the SBA.

InnovateHER is managed by the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, a great resource for any woman looking to start or grow a business. Learn more about the InnovateHER Challenge here.

Related: Top Small Business Grants for Women and Minorities

3. Amber Grants for Women

The Amber Grant is a monthly $500 grant, with opportunities to qualify for larger grants in some rare cases. While the dollars are not as big as the five-figure award you may be after, every dollar counts. Women can apply at the Amber Grants for Women website, and winners are picked from a judging panel from WomensNet.

This grant started in 1998 when a 19-year-old young woman named Amber passed away before reaching her entrepreneurship dreams. The grant is designed to help women reach that same goal in her honor.

4. FedEx Small Business Grant

While the FedEx Small Business Grant isn’t exclusively for women, the sponsoring company makes a point to fairly distribute awards between men and women. Ten winners total take home a prize, up to $25,000 for first place. Winners also get access to free FedEx Office print and copy services on top of their cash prize.

This grant recognizes “incredible small businesses from across the country.” If you are a woman that runs such a business, make sure to apply! Learn more at FedEx.

5. Idea Cafe Grant

Idea Cafe offers grants of $1,000. The quick and easy grant application is highly competitive, but if you have a great business idea that is “ground-breaking or a simple, but yet creative solution to an everyday problem, [Idea Cafe] would like to hear about it.”

This one is not specific to women, like the FedEx grant, but is very friendly to women applicants. The last three winners are women, as a matter of fact. Learn more and apply.

6. American Association of University Women Community Action Grants

The American Association of University Women, or AAUW, offers Community Action Grants for one or two year community-based projects. These grants are more focused on education than general business ownership and entrepreneurship, but if your business idea overlaps with any clearly defined activity that “promotes education and equality for women and girls,” you are in the running.

This grant is part of a long string of funding going back to 1972. As it comes from a women’s organization, it is only fitting that this grant is women-focused. Recent winners include programs like ECO Girls, a Michigan based organization that seeks to connect minority girls with the environment through a unique and exciting program.

7. Zions Bank Smart Women Grants

Utah-based Zions Bank operates throughout the Western United States. The bank offers an annual Smart Women Grant, which in 2016 was awarded as six, $3,000 grants, each in its own category, such as arts and culture or community development.

The Zions Bank Business Resource Center contains a handful of useful tools, templates and articles to help you run a small business. Contact Zions Bank for more information on the Smart Women Grants program.

8. Open Meadows Foundation

Open Meadows Foundation grants are biannual awards of $2,000. The grant is awarded to smaller organizations with an operating budget of under $75,000 per year. Grants are specifically for women-led projects that benefit women and girls.

The foundation looks for projects that are designed and implemented by women and girls, and focus on building community. Those with limited financial access have the best odds of taking home the prize. Learn more at the Open Meadows Foundation website.

9. The Halstead Grant

This women-focused grant is also industry-focused. The Halstead Grant is an annual grant awarded to an exceptional jewelry designed working in silver. For 2018, the winner takes home $7,500 and $1,000 in supplies, plus a trip to Halstead’s offices in Prescott, Arizona.

This grant is certainly not for everyone, but it is great for women working with silver jewelry. If that sounds like you, learn more and apply.

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10. 37 Angels Grants

A group of women investors came together to create 37 Angels. They recognize that just 13 percent of angel investors are women, and work to bring that to 50 percent. 37 Angels grants come with an accelerator program to bring your entire business to the next level.

While the capital inflow comes in the form of an investment, not a grant, it could be just what your business needs to grow and succeed. Learn more at 37 Angels.

11. Belle Capital

Belle Capital offers investments in early stage, women-led companies. Like 37 Angels, they want a return on their investment. The Belle Capital fund is targeted to invest in 10 to 15 high growth companies. Like other venture capital firms, they want to participate and bring expertise to help the business grow. This is no handout.

Learn more at Belle Capital, including the strict investment criteria. They are looking for businesses that can reach $20 million in revenue within five years. Some others on this list are good for small businesses, but this investment is just for the big girls.

Business resources for women

Women in business have more opportunities than ever before. With these grants, you have a little more ammunition to reach the next level in your business adventure. If you are looking for additional grant opportunities, be sure to read our list of small business grants for general audience.

Keep in mind that business isn’t all about grants. While they help, remember to focus on your revenue, bottom line and business credit score to keep other borrowing and capital opportunities available to your and your business.

This article originally appeared on by Eric Rosenberg 

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