The Best Small Business Grants for Women

This has been a challenging year for everyone, and now more than ever, small businesses need all the help they can get to survive and thrive. Obtaining small business grants you don’t have to repay is key to your success.

As you may know, the Federal Government has stepped in to help small businesses that have been impacted by the Covid crisis. For updated information on applying for these grants, click here. Plus, as we’ve shared with you before, there are a number of grant programs available to small business owners to help start and/or grow a business, and the good news is, these and other programs are still going strong.

October is National Women’s Small Business Month so we think it’s the perfect time to recap programs we’ve highlighted in the past plus share some exciting new opportunities available to women business owners this year and beyond.

February 2021 Update: We’re thrilled to announce the Dr. Barbara Young Women’s Empowerment Grant. Click here to view the application (open through 3/14/21). One woman will win a $1,000 award and a one-year IAW membership.

U.S. Government Grants

  • – This is a huge clearinghouse of federally sponsored grants. You can search by category, keywords, etc., but keep in mind that competition is fierce for government grants so before you get started, get educated by becoming familiar with the application process. This site has tons of useful information and resources.
  • Small Business Association (SBA) – Although it doesn’t grant loans to general types of small businesses, the SBA does have two programs that provide grants to small businesses that are involved in federal research and development: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR). Check out the website for information on eligibility, the application process, etc.
  • – Here’s another excellent government resource that offers a large database of grants being offered by various federal agencies. Browse through the site and check out the variety of prize competitions in myriad fields, including technology, healthcare, the environment and so much more.
  • Economic Development Administration – This agency offers state and local business grants throughout the country. While it deals mostly with disaster recovery, it has numerous programs for small businesses.

Private Business Grants

  • Amber Grant Foundation – Since 1998, Women’sNet, in honor of a young female entrepreneur who died much too young, has been providing at least $10,000 in Amber Grant money each month. Today, the foundation also gives a year-end grant of $25,000. Monthly winners are announced the first week of every month.
  • Eileen Fisher Grant Program – Targeting organizations that empower and foster the roles of women and girls by giving them the tools and resources they need to work towards environmental justice. Businesses must be women-owned. Program awards $200,000 annually in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $40,000. Date for 2021 applications to come.
  • FedEx Small Business Grant – Every year, FedEx awards grants from $7,500 (Bronze Prize) to more than $25,000 (annual Gold Prize) to small businesses that have been in operation for longer than six months. The 2021 contest hasn’t opened yet, but in the meantime, check out the winners of the 2020 contest for some inspiration.         
  • The Halstead Grant – If you are an aspiring jewelry designer, then this grant is for you! Each year, it awards jewelry entrepreneurs to help them get their businesses up and running. The Grand prize is a $7,500 cash prize plus additional benefits. Now accepting applications for 2021 (deadline is August 1st).
  • Idea Cafe Small Biz Grant – The grants are small ($1,000) but every little bit helps, especially if you are a small business owner. They are specifically looking for innovative and compelling business ideas and simple but creative ways to solve everyday problems. Applications open in November and sign-up is simple.

There are an array of grants and funding opportunities available to small business owners, from private companies to banks to government agencies. We’d love to hear about your experience searching, applying, and perhaps receiving a grant for your business. Share your story at IAW. It’s a great place to learn from other members and network with like-minded professional women whose own ideas and experiences will help nurture and grow your business.

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