Small Business Grants for Women

I’m all about empowering women so here are a few grants for women-owned businesses.

If you’re a woman who has a business or wants to start one, take a gander at these grants.

Understandably, the competition for small-business grants is fierce, and it takes considerable time and effort to win them. But if you’re up for the challenge, grants can be a great way to fund your new or existing business.

If the application window isn’t open yet, set a reminder. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to craft the perfect application and gain a competitive edge.

1. The Amber Grant

WomensNet founded the “Amber Grant” in 1998. The grant was set up with one goal in mind: to honor the memory of a very special young woman, Amber Wigdahl, who died at just 19 years old — before realizing her business dreams.

Today, WomensNet carries on that tradition, proudly giving away at least $30,000 every month in Amber Grant money. In recognition of the diversity of businesses owned by women, we’ve also expanded our grant-giving to include “Marketing Grants,” “Business Category Grants,” as well as two “$25,000 Year End Grants.”

The nice thing about this grant is you don’t have to use corporate language or fancy synonyms. Judges look for passionate and heartfelt ideas and businesses — from dog walkers to scientific investors.

Again, the application is straightforward: name, company, and other basics. You just type a few sentences about your business, what you’d do with the money, and any other comments you think will help set you apart.

Note: there is a $15 application fee, but it’s totally worth it if you win.

2. Idea Café Small Business Grants

OK, so this isn’t solely for women-owned businesses, but the majority of the grant winners have been women, so it’s worth mentioning.

For example, the recipient of the 19th Small Business Grant was Angela Pullo, the owner of Mew Haven Cat Café.  Mew Haven cat cafe is a coffee shop with adoptable shelter cats. With an hourly entry fee, people can go in and play with cats. Some people can`t have cats, and this provides a form of stress relief. Some people who want to adopt can get to know the cats` personalities before they adopt. Check them out at http://www.mewhavencatcafe.com/

This $1,000 grant is for anyone who creatively solves an everyday problem. It’s not an astounding amount of money, but it’s a great start, so keep an eye open for when the newest application is posted.

3.  National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants

Annually, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) awards numerous grant prizes of $4,000 each to its members. To become a member, you need to pay a $120 membership fee per year. As a member, you receive networking opportunities, mentorship resources, discounts on business products, and legislative advocacy.

In order to qualify for their Growth Grants program, along with being a NASE member, you have to show a specific business need that the grant can help. So, to show how the grant helps your business’s growth and success, you need to include a resume and a business plan.

4. FedEx Grant

The first winner of the FedEx grant was Nicole Snow and even though this isn’t necessarily just for women entrepreneurs, women small business owners are heavily encouraged to apply. Since 2012, the Small Business Grant Contest has awarded more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes to over 100 small businesses. The contest, which awards unique and innovative small businesses, has drawn more than 50,000 entrants—including nearly 18,000 in 2022. We love seeing our winners continue to grow.

5. IFundWomen Universal Grant Application Database

IFundWomen is a grant marketplace that specializes in funding and coaching for women-owned businesses. You can submit one application and when IFundWomen adds a grant from an enterprise partner, it will match the partner’s grant criteria to applications within the database.

If your business is a match, you’ll receive a notification and invitation to apply. Previous grant partners have included companies like Visa, Neutrogena and American Express.

Grants.gov

Grants.gov is a database of federally sponsored grants, including grants for small businesses. Although these grants are not exclusive to women-owned businesses, this database is a great place to start if you’re looking for free financing.  To apply, you must obtain a Unique Entity ID for your business (a 12-character alphanumeric identification number), register to do business with the U.S. government through its System for Award Management website and create an account at Grants.gov.  To view grants specifically for small businesses, filter the results on the left side of the page under “eligibility.”

You can also look into SBA loans, which are affordable business loans for small business owners. SBA has a number of resources available for female entrepreneurs.

In addition, keep a note of small business trends to ensure you’re on the right track when opening or enhancing your business.

As an alternative to obtaining a grant you can also “Crowdfund”

Creating a fundraising campaign on a crowdfunding platform can help you get financing. 

Crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to tap into the power of the internet to raise money for their small businesses. It not only gives business owners a relatively inexpensive way to bankroll a fledgling business idea, it also helps promote a company’s product or service on social media and build a base of enthusiastic customers.

Setting up a crowdfunding campaign is simple: You use a crowdfunding platform to create a profile for your business, project or service, set a funding goal and publish your request online. Interested people can then give cash donations to your cause, often in exchange for company assets in the form of rewards or equity. Sharing links to your listing can generate further interest and more funding.

What are the benefits of crowdfunding?

For small-business owners, the benefits of crowdfunding are twofold: You find funding for your business idea and get the word out about your product or service.

Think of crowdfunding like networking on steroids. Instead of attending events with a limited number people to drum up support for your business, you reach a broader group of potential investors. This often starts within your own social sphere as you share your request with family and friends via social networks.

It’s also more of a grant than a loan, because you don’t have to pay back the funds or worry about interest rates.

Female entrepreneurs tend to have more success with crowdfunding platforms than their male counterparts. According to “Women Unbound: Unleashing female entrepreneurial potential,” a report from PwC and the Crowdfunding Center, women across the globe are 32% more likely to reach their financing goals using crowdfunding than men.

The report suggests that crowdfunding levels the playing field for women because it opens financing to investors outside of traditionally male-dominated venture capitalist firms. Women also tend to use more personal language in their pitches, which helps foster emotional connections, while men take a more formal approach, often using business jargon.

Still, as the report found, crowdfunding is not guaranteed cash — just 22% of campaigns led by women reached their financing goals. You don’t know exactly how much financing you’ll walk away with, and if you don’t hit your funding goal, that amount could be zero.

What are the different types of crowdfunding?

The two most common types of crowdfunding for small business owners are rewards-based and equity-based.

Rewards-based crowdfunding

In rewards-based crowdfunding, donors receive a product or service related to the project, with the value depending on the amount donated. For instance, a $5 donation might be rewarded with a handwritten thank you card, while $50 or $100 might bring early access to your company’s product or service.

Rewards-based crowdfunding is a good idea for small business owners looking to get their business off the ground without being beholden to shareholders or weighed down by loan repayments.

Rewards-based crowdfunding platforms: Kickstarter, Indiegogo

Equity-based crowdfunding

In equity-based crowdfunding, donors receive shares in the company; the number is based on the amount of the contribution. Contributors choose to invest in companies they believe will be successful in the future, as the success of the company directly influences the return on donors’ investments.

This method of crowdfunding is a good idea for small businesses with solid growth plans. You’ll be left with investors in your company, which could result in potential hiccups, including increased scrutiny from regulators.

Equity-based crowdfunding platforms: Republic, CircleUp

Fundable, a crowdfunding site specifically for small businesses, allows you to choose between equity- and rewards-based funding.

Keys to crowdfunding success

Your business stands out in a crowd: A successful crowdfunding campaign relies on your ability to capture potential investors’ interest. It means you have a unique product that fills a consumer void and a strong personal or business story that compels investors to give you a chance.

Investors value your reward: You’ll want to make sure you offer either equity or a reward that is compelling enough to capture interest.

You have a wide network: Having family and friends willing to support and promote your cause can amplify your fundraising efforts. Without a strong promotional base, it’s harder to reach your financing goals.

References:

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

https://www.nerdwallet.com

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