Grants for women in business were once nonexistent. In a male-dominated business world, women have fought hard for equal opportunity, jobs and pay. More organizations and government sources are recognizing the need for women in the business world, and are providing funding to do just that.
Business grants for women are still a bit hard to find, but they do exist. A grant is essentially free money; unlike a loan, it does not need to be repaid. Some grant programs incorporate financial awards with business training, education and outreach.
Some organizations have grants for single moms, further specifying the need to bridge the gender gap in the business world. Women-owned businesses are growing in numbers, thanks in part to grants such as these. For more information on grants for businesswomen, continue reading the following topics.
Business Grants for Women
Government grants for women are provided at the federal, state and local government levels. To qualify for most grants, applicants must hold a majority of the ownership in a company, usually at least 51 percent.
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Women’s Business Ownership is one of the top federal women’s grant providers. Grants for women include the InnovateHER program, which provides financial awards to three business owners each year. Recipients can use the funds to grow their businesses through marketing objectives and other manners.
The DOD SBIR, or Department of Defense’s Small Business Innovation Research program, provides small business grants for women (and men) across America. Women-owned businesses involved in the research and development field are encouraged to apply for these grant programs.
Women business owners should also look to their local Women’s Business Center for grant opportunities. These SBA-sponsored centers often provide small grants and cash prizes. Others help women business owners find grant programs near them.
Grants for Single Moms
Grants for women with children are becoming more common. Both government and non-government organizations recognize a need for women-owned businesses and understand the added difficulty for single mothers.
Some organizations offer grants for single moms who are interested in starting a business or need assistance in growing their companies. Some grants have specific eligibility requirements, while others are open to a broader category of women.
Many grants for women are geared toward single moms, working mothers and women in general. The Huggies MomInspired grant program is one such program. The company has coined its own term for working moms who double as business owners, known fondly as “mompreneurs.” This company awards grants of up to $15,000 to moms who wish to fund their own businesses. Along with the cash prize, winners also receive business advice and support.
Non-Government Grants for Women
Business grants for women offered at the federal level are among the most competitive. They tend to have more applicants than local or organizational programs. As such, women should consider applying to both government and non-government grant programs.
Government grants for women also have some of the toughest deadlines to meet. Many organizations and corporations that provide grants have open applications for a wider window of time. Some even offer grant programs on a monthly or biannual basis.
Many large grant programs are designed in a competition-style format. In these cases, applicants submit a proposal or bid describing their business (or new idea). If approved, they may be required to attend an in-person conference to pitch their ideas to grant judges.
Other types of grants for women are awarded in a shorter approval process. Smaller grant programs may choose a winner out of the entire pool, rather than having elimination rounds.
Women business owners should consider applying to certain grant programs offered by non-government sources. These include:
- Eileen Fisher Program – This grant program specializes in providing financial awards to women involved in specific aspects of environmental justice, leadership and social change. Grant amounts range from $5,000 to $30,000. To be eligible, women must own or partially own an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
- Amber Grant – The Amber Grant program has been around since 1998, helping women grow and foster their own businesses. This grant is funded by WomensNet, which awards one $2,000 grant every month to eligible applicants. Each winner is qualified to enter the annual grant program, which awards $25,000 to one female business owner.
- Open Meadows Foundation – The Open Meadows Foundation provides grants to organizations, businesses and projects that promote gender, racial and economic equality. The foundation specifically awards small businesses led by women. To be eligible, companies cannot have an operational budget that exceeds $75,000 annually.
- Halstead Grant – Some womens government grants are very industry specific, such as the Halstead Grant. The jewelry supply company hosts an annual award program for emerging silver jewelry designers. Women with jewelry companies are invited to apply for the grant, which consists of $7,500 in start-up capital and $1,000 in merchandise. Winners will also receive brand recognition in the jewelry-making industry.
- Cartier Women’s Initiative – This international business grants for women program has steep competition, but it is one of the most prestigious awards out there. Cartier provides grants of more than $100,000 to women entrepreneurs who are just starting their business ventures. To be eligible, the company or project must be in is beginning stages (two to three years) and must have a for-profit business model.
- Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program – Tory Burch, a fashion designer and entrepreneur, started the Tory Burch Foundation to empower females in the business world. The fellows program awards $5,000 grants for business education, allowing female entrepreneurs to bolster their business knowledge and grow their brands. To be eligible, businesses must generate minimum revenues of at least $75,000.
- Idea Café Grants – Idea Café awards $1,000 grants to small businesses at various points throughout the year. The grant is open to applicants other than women, but many winners in the past have been female business owners and entrepreneurs.