For an entrepreneur seeking financing, the ultimate fantasy (well, except for winning the lottery) is receiving a grant. That’s because grants, unlike loans, don’t need to be repaid. Nor do they require you to give up some of your precious ownership in your business the way investors do.
As you might expect, grants aren’t exactly easy to come by. Similar to scholarships that students earn for college, finding grants for which you are eligible, going through the application process, and following up requires time and effort. However, the payoff can be worth it.
Grants exist for all types of reasons and from many sources. The federal government gives grants; so do nonprofits and corporations.
In this post, I’m focusing on grants for women business owners.
As women entrepreneurs have become a major force in the world of small business, there’s less and less need for grants programs specifically aimed at women. However, some still exist: here are five of them.
1. The Amber Grant
This grant honors the memory of a young woman who wanted to be an entrepreneur but died at age 19 before she could achieve her goal. Launched 20 years ago and operated by WomensNet, this program gives a monthly $4,000 grant to one woman business owner. At year-end, one of the monthly winners is chosen for an additional $25,000 grant. Learn more about the Amber Grant.
2. Cartier Women's Initiative Awards
This global grant for women entrepreneurs is open to women worldwide, as long as they are in the initial stages of developing their businesses. Out of seven global regions, a total of 21 finalists are chosen. All the finalists get personalized business coaching, attend entrepreneurship workshops, and have access to networking events. Businesses that meet the proper criteria also receive a scholarship to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Programme. In addition, seven laureates receive $100,000 in prize money, and 14 finalists receive $30,000.
3. Tory Burch Fellows
Entrepreneur Tory Burch founded the Tory Burch Foundation to help women business owners succeed. The Foundation’s Tory Burch Fellows program chooses 10 Fellows annually; each receives a $10,000 grant, a trip to Tory Burch headquarters for three days of networking and workshops, and a year of ongoing support. Each Fellow is also given the opportunity to pitch their business concept to a panel of judges and compete for a $100,000 investment. (Half of the money is a grant and half is a recoverable grant, which is equivalent to a zero-interest loan). Learn more about Tory Burch Fellows.
4. Open Meadows Foundation
The Open Meadows Foundation gives grants of $2,000 to women-led organizations that promote gender, racial and economic justice and that work to benefit women and girls. Organizations receiving grants may not have a budget of over $75,000; small and startup organizations get priority. These grants are not open to for-profit businesses. If you are starting a nonprofit, learn more and apply for a grant.
This isn’t a specific grant, but a website that provides information about obtaining grants and a directory of grants for women. Most of the grants listed are for nonprofit organizations; however, there are some available for-profit businesses.
Any business owner looking for a grant should be sure to visit Grants.gov which is a central clearinghouse for information about federal government grants. The government awards grants to help provide public services or to stimulate the U.S. economy. Visit Grants.gov to learn the basics of grants, get tips for applying and find out how to protect yourself from scams. You can also use the site to look for federal government grants relevant to your business. Then register with Grants.gov (it’s free) to submit your applications with the online tool.
Finally, whatever type of financing you're looking for—grants, business loans or investments—the experts at SCORE can help you find it. Get matched with a SCORE mentor, and find the financing you need to make your dreams a reality.