What is a grant?
A grant is a financial award that government institutions, non-profits and private organizations can offer to applicants to fill a need. Grant recipients do not have to pay back grant money like they would with a loan. Because they are not repayable, the IRS considers grants as taxable income unless they’re used to earn a degree.
Organizations can set their own requirements for who qualifies for each grant and create an application process that usually involves writing a proposal. Grant proposals explain what the applicant plans to do with the grant money if they receive the award and provide an overview of the expected outcomes of those plans. Many grants have stipulations for how the funds can be used and require the recipient to follow up with the organization offering the grant to report their progress.
What are business grants for women?
Because women are often under-represented in the business world, some institutions have developed grants specifically for women in an attempt to off-set the challenges female entrepreneurs face. Women can also apply for grants that don’t specify gender, but they may have a better chance of getting funding by seeking out grants that specifically value women’s contributions to the business world. There are business grants for women who want to start their first business and grants for women who have an established small business that they want to grow and expand.
Related: Woman- and Minority-Owned Business: How to Get Certified
5 business grants women can apply for
Here are some of the top business grants for women businesses:
The Amber Grant Foundation gives out grants of up to $10,000 to different women entrepreneurs each month, then awards an additional $25,000 yearly grant to one of the 12 women who received a monthly award. They also provide smaller grants based on applicant need. To apply for an Amber Grant, aspiring female business owners explain their business idea and personal story using an online form and pay a $15 administration fee. Any kind of business, including non-profits, can be eligible for the Amber Grant as long as it is woman-owned and operated.
Cartier Women’s Initiative
The Cartier Women’s Initiative, founded in 2006, provides a range of grant opportunities exclusively for women-owned businesses, including regional awards based on location and grants for science and technology startups. Women who apply for any of the Cartier awards can win $30,000 as a finalist and $100,000 if they pass the final round of evaluations. To qualify for these grants, your business should be in the start-up phase and have at least one year where it generated revenue. You can learn more about these grants and apply here.
One Meadows Foundation Grants
If your business is focused on social change or you have an idea to incorporate activism and female empowerment in your business, you can apply for the One Meadows Foundation Grant. They provide awards up to $2,000 for non-profit projects that are both created and run by women and give back to the community. These grants are targeted at female entrepreneurs who have limited financial resources and have a total organizational budget of $75,000 or less, with a preference for start-ups and small businesses.
Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program Grants
Every year, the Tory Burch Foundation selects 50 women as Foundation Fellows, where they participate in professional development and networking opportunities. Fellows receive a $5,000 grant to pursue their business education and have the opportunity to present their business to investors at a sponsored Pitch Day event. Women who own and operate for-profit businesses that generated more than $75,000 in the past year are eligible to apply. It is free to apply on their website.
If none of these opportunities apply to you, try searching the GrantsforWomen online database to find local and regional opportunities. The grants listed on this database include industry-specific opportunities where you can connect with the funding opportunities that are most relevant to you. In addition to hosting information on business grants, GrantsforWomen also has a directory of grants for women to further their education or pursue research.
Frequently asked questions about business grants for women
How do I get a grant for a woman-owned business?
You can improve your chances of getting a grant for your woman-owned business by sending out applications to any grant you qualify for. Women-owned small business grants can be competitive, so pursuing multiple opportunities and being thorough in each application can help you access different funding sources.
What are the requirements to be considered a woman-owned business?
Generally, a business qualifies as woman-owned if women own at least 51% of company shares and make most of the decisions about the daily operations and long-term strategy of a company. To get the Woman-Owned Small Business Certification with the Small Business Administration, a woman also has to hold the highest office in the company and the business has to have under 500 employees.
Who can qualify for a business grant?
Each institution that offers grants has different qualifications. Some are very strict, requiring candidates to have a certain education level or amount of work experience, while others are more general and allow anyone to apply. Research each grant provider before starting the application process to understand if you meet their eligibility requirements.