While women can apply for any grant, there are many that list gender-specific selection criteria. Let us take a look at opportunities available for business-minded women.
Most grants are either for a newly-launched company, or for a woman to attend school for entrepreneurial education. Grants for education are the most common of all business grants for women, as institutions often focus on education more than funding a business. Independent grants exist from various industrial thought-leaders. For example, Eileen Fisher distributes five $12,500 grants for women who run their own business focused on sustainability. Women’s’ Finance offers several grants ranging in size just for an online application.
Here are a few places that can source local and industry-specific grant opportunities:
Small Business Administration Grants – The Small Business Administration has a budget of nearly $1 billion each year, which is used to secure more funds to give grants and loans to budding business owners. Inside the SBA is the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, which connects women to grant opportunities through the SBA and third-party charities and organizations. Anyone looking for a female-specific grant for business would be wise to first check with the SBA. Grants vary based on income, race, and also your intended use for the grant payout.
SCORE – The Service Corps of Retired Executives is one of the best free services for any business. Simply call or walk into a field office to get help from retired workers who provide help with any business problem at no cost. SCORE is very well versed in grants, and can help any business owner secure capital for a business.
Keep in mind that the majority of grants are government grants, which tend to have more exclusive selection criteria. The SBA has grants based on income, ethnicity, and credit worthiness, among a variety of other qualifications.
Thankfully, selection criteria for business grants tend to make each grant less competitive, since fewer people will match the criteria for all grants. Additionally, many women overlook their potential to receive a grant, never exploring available opportunities for the fear that their application will not win. In reality, millions of dollars in (tax-free) grants go to thousands of business owners who apply for new grants each year. But to receive one, you have to take the first step: application.