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10 Grants For Women-Owned Businesses You Should Know

by Felix Omondi

The 10 Grants For Women-Owned Businesses You Should Know

Here is what we know about female entrepreneurs in U.S.A and how their businesses fair according to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report by the American Express:

Since 1997 to 2014, there has been a 68% increase in the number of women-owned business by 9.1 million. This growth has exceeded the U.S national small business growth average by 1.5 times.

From the above stats we can conclude that female entrepreneurs have a tremendous potential in growing the small businesses landscape. However, they still face the same hurdles as their male counterparts such as competition, growth and other gender bias that works against their favor. Take, for instance, the shocking rate at which female entrepreneurs gets turned down by banks when they apply for small business loans.

Although this lack of support from conventional money lending institutions like banks, female entrepreneurs still have some great options to turn to. Most of which is driven by technology disruption into the financial lending sources. These options include online loans, crowdfunding and peer-to-peer loans.

The U.S. government also issues grants to female entrepreneurs. This option is however not that popular given not a lot of people know about it. The problem with most business owners is they do not fully comprehend what a grant entails. Sure on the face value, a grant is essentially ‘free money’, but they come with terms and conditions. Additionally, the process of navigating your way into being given a grant is quite complex.

  1. You will have to research and find the grant for which you are eligible
  2. You must understand and adhere to the guidelines for the application process
  3. You are in direct and fierce competition with other businesses for the same grant
  4. You must devote your time and energy to the lengthy application process

In simple words, to get your grant, you need to perfectly execute the application process and ensure you represent yourself and your business in the best way possible. It is easy to misunderstand all the ads talking about free federal money for business startups. The federal government does often give a considerable amount of grants to medical research, technology, science, and education. However no such federal grants exist for women-owned businesses. There may be grants for women empowerment initiatives, but such funds are often targeted towards nonprofit corporations and not for-profit businesses.

If you are going to research for grants specifically meant women-owned businesses, you should start at the state level. Many states do offer grants for women-owned businesses to some extent; all the states have websites with a business section where they place information about grants and funding available to women and minority-owned businesses.

Take for instance the state of New York’s website, which has listed all the incentives and programs available for business empowerment. You should look at your state’s website and see what they have in support for local businesses.

Another source of federal funds is the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It assists the minorities and women establish and grow their businesses. You can search for grants and links to state agencies working with women-owned businesses for funding opportunities on the site. You can view all the state agencies across the U.S. by clicking here.

Private Grants For Women-Owned Businesses

The following is a list of links of private grants that cater to women-owned businesses that you as a female entrepreneur might be interested in.

  1. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program: This program offers five grants per year. The eligible businesses must be a 100% women-owned business and have a mission along the line of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation. Additionally, the businesses must be able to advance to the next phase of development. Back in 2014, this program awarded $125,000 in grants.
  2. Huggies Brand – Mom Inspired Grants: This program awarded grants of up to $15,000. The grants were given to development of innovative products that will enhance the enjoyment of motherhood. The businesses awarded were also given resources that will further develop their products and businesses.
  3. FedEx Think Bigger – Small Business Grant Program: Applicants to this program are required to share their visions and stand a chance to win a portion of the $75,000 grant. Applicants will also be vetted by the general public who will vote for the finalists. Thus, the applicants will be promoting their businesses while they campaign for the public votes.
  4. Idea Café Small Business Grant: This is a free gateway for hosting different grants on its sites. The most recent grant is the 16th Small Business Cash Grant that is awarding a grand prize of $1,000 to a business that presents the most innovative idea.
  5. InnovateHER 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge: This is a business challenge sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Women’s Business Ownership. Three winners will be picked from the competition and awarded $30,000 given they demonstrate the greatest impact on changing the lives of women. But, at the same time, you might want to know of the recent fraud allegations about the SBA.
  6. Chase Google – Mission Main Street Project: Tech giant Google has partnered with Chase to award $3 million in grants. A previous winner in 2014 was awarded $150,000 to boost their business to the next level of growth. The winners also got a chance to visit Google’s headquarters and other awards such as a Chromebook laptop and a $2,000 coupon for a market research study with Google Consumer Surveys.
  7. Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR):This program reserves a certain percentage of the federal funding toward research and development and uses that money to funding to other businesses going into research and development.
  8. Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corp (WVEC) Small Business Competition: This is a competition organized by the Capitol One in partnership with Count Me In For Women’s Economic Independence. The competition allows women to present a two-minutes pitch and stand a chance to participate in a business acceleration program running for nine months.
  9. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): This is a grant program where different federal agencies participate, and give incentives to small businesses enabling them to explore their potential in tech space.
  10. Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEE): This program is part of Wal-Mart’s huge initiative of sourcing for opportunities for the U.S. and international companies will

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