The number of women-owned businesses may be growing every year, but there are still challenges for women when it comes to securing the money they need to get their business up and running.
No matter the industry, small business grants can be a game changer for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business — especially woman-owned small businesses.
Unlike a business loan, small business grants don’t have to be repaid. So if you’re just starting out, a small business grant can be a serious leg up to help with all those pesky startup costs, like rent, tools, products, on and on and on.
To help you get the funding you need to start your small business, we’re digging into the best grants out there for women and what you need to know before you apply.
What to Know Before You Apply for Grants
Unsure what you need before you apply for a small business grant? We’ve got you covered!
Become a Certified Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
Having your business certified as a women-owned business can open up a lot of doors for financial help. Before you apply for certification, here’s what you need to qualify:
- Be at least 51% women-owned
- Run daily operations and hold highest position for the business
- Work full-time
- Must be U.S. citizen(s)
- Be a for-profit business
- Meet the requirements of a small business
How to Apply for Women-Owned Small Business Certification
As a heads up, you’ll need an account with the System for Award Management. Plus, you’ll need to gather the following documents:
- Birth certificates, naturalization papers or unexpired passports for each woman business owner
- Articles of organization/incorporation, partnership or joint venture agreements, voting agreements, and any amendments to these documents
- Issued stock certificates and stock ledger
- Assumed/fictitious name certificate
Draft a business plan
A business plan is essentially a document that lays out how you plan to start your business, and it’s an important part of getting your business up and running. If you haven’t already written one up, now’s the time.
Pro tip: Need a hand writing your business plan? Check out our All-Inclusive Guide for writing salon business plans!
Research grant options
Taking the time to research and find prospective grants is a big part of finding the funding you need. While there are plenty of online search tools to help you find a grant, you still need a level of strategy and thoughtfulness when hunting down the best grants for your small business.
Gather your documentation
Be sure you have the following documents on hand before start a grant application, especially for federal grant opportunities:
- Financial records
- Tax returns
- WOSB certification
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
7 Best Small Business Grants for Women
The Amber Grant Foundation is a big one! They award $10,000 every month to a different woman-owned business — plus, a few smaller grants throughout the year as well.
What are they looking for? Women with a lot of heart and a great story to tell. There’s also no time requirement on how long you’ve owned your business, so it’s a big grant for startup businesses as well.
Women’s Business Centers are for grants given away at the state and local levels. Depending on your area, some centers give away grants, while others are there to help women business owners find the capital they need to fulfill their dreams.
Visit the Women’s Business Centers search page to find a local source in your area!
Similar to the Women’s Business Centers, each state has their own economic development resources to help promote strong economies areas for their state. Take a look at the EDA website to find one in your area!
Built to help minority business owners find funding and develop financial strategies, the MBDA has locations all over the country. The best part? They also run a grant program specifically for women: the Enterprising Women of Color Initiative, or EWOC. On top of awarding grants, they also provide access to events and other networking opportunities for minority women business owners.
Grantsforwomen.org is your one stop shop for all things grants. They’re basically an online platform built to help women business owners find and apply for a variety of grants and scholarships.
Created to help women of color business owners, the Fearless Fund has grant opportunities in partnership with some serious heavy hitters, such as Mastercard and Goldman Sachs. They give away eleven $10,000 grants — plus one-on-one mentorship — each year, all with a focus on women of color in business.
Last but not least, Grants.gov is a staple source when it comes to securing funding. As the official website for federal grants, it’s the go-to database for completely free financing.
While Grants.gov is not exclusively a source for women-owned businesses, it’s the perfect place to start your search.