30 Grants for Women Starting a Business

Jessica Elliott

Jessica couples her 24 years of restaurant and hospitality industry experience with meticulous research to deliver insight into technology, operations, and marketing topics. Her optimized copy helps companies engage their audience while strengthening their communication with clients, employees, and management.

Your business needs funds to run well and successfully. Yet, it can be difficult to qualify for traditional loans (or afford an extra monthly payment). But, plenty of grants for women starting a business exist.

Working women at their store.

Below you’ll find an extensive list of options available to all types of entrepreneurs. Some are industry or location-specific, while others are available to all women regardless of your company’s sector or location. Explore your funding options, then take the next steps to start your business.

1. Girlboss Foundation

Since 2014, the Girlboss Foundation has awarded over $130,000 in grant monies. Each winner gets $15,000 in project funding along with access to the Girlboss network. Grants are awarded bi-annually, with the last round going out in 2020. From independent book publishers to cosmetics, the Girlboss Foundation continues to support and promote women-owned businesses.

2. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant

Eileen Fisher is a popular clothing brand backed by a powerful and influential mission to empower women, support human rights, protect the climate, and respect differences. The founder, Eileen Fisher, started her business in 1984 with only $350 in savings. Her company now features 65 stores in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

The Eileen Fisher grant supports existing businesses that contribute to their communities and generate positive environmental and social impact.

3. Amber Grant

In 1998, the Amber Grant was established in memory of Amber Wigdahl, a 19-year-old entrepreneur who died in 1981. This fund awards $10,000 every month to “help other women achieve the dreams that Amber could not in her short time with us.” Additionally, the foundation selects from its pool of monthly winners at the end of each year and gives them an extra $25,000 grant.

4. Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards

Since 2006, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards has supported women-run and women-owned companies worldwide. To be eligible for grants for women starting a business, your company must meet at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The foundation offers seven regional awards per year along with the newly created science and technology pioneer award.

5. American Association of University Women

Established in 1881, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) provides fellowships and grants for women to perform research while working to better their communities and schools. For the 2020-2021 year, the foundation awarded more than 200 fellowships and grants totaling $3.5 million.

6. New Voices Fund

Founded in 2018 by Sundial Brands, known for its SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage brands, the New Voices Fund gives women of color access to expertise and capital needed to start up a new company or support an existing business. The foundation offers pitch competitions and mobile accelerators while investing heavily in women-owned companies.

7. Open Meadows Award

The Open Meadows foundation gives priority to small and startup organizations that are led by and benefit women and girls. Specifically, Open Meadows focuses on businesses that aim to change the world by empowering women. This may include political change, environmental action, or community organizing.

8. The Ms. Foundation for Women

The Ms. Foundation for Women awards non-profit recipients that “are transforming policies and cultural beliefs across the U.S.” However, the Ms. Foundation for Women also provides networking opportunities, support, and training. Past winners own or run companies that advocate for affordable childcare and prevent domestic violence.

9. Tory Burch Foundation

The Tory Burch Foundation provides $5,000 grants to women entrepreneurs who own a majority stake and operate their company. Your business can be in any industry. You need to have generated $75,000 in revenue during the last 12-months and be the early stage of ownership, with preference going to those in business for one to five years.

10. The Halstead Grant

If you’re a woman who creates silver jewelry, then this industry-specific grant is for you. Each year applicants send in design portfolios and answers to business questions. The grand prize winner gets $7,500 in cash, along with other benefits. Although the Halstead Grant closed on August 1, keep this one in mind for next year!

11. 37 Angels Grants

Although a 37 Angels Grant is actually an investment in your company, it provides funds and access to an accelerator program. According to the site, roughly 500 companies apply, and every two months, they select eight companies to pitch to their investors. 37 Angels also offer a wealth of information on their website, so check out their resources.

12. Belle Capital

Belle Capital is a venture capital firm, so the company invests in women-led companies that can “reach $20 million in revenue within five years.” If you’ve got an innovative idea that’ll solve a pressing problem, yet face significant barriers, then Belle Capital provides funding and expertise to help your company grow.

13. The SBA’s InnovateHER Challenge

Each year the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) holds a competition and awards grants for women starting a business to the tune of $40,000, $20,000, and $10,000 in funds. You’ll need to contact your local Women’s Business Center (WBC) to learn how to apply. Typically, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • Fills a marketplace need
  • Shows potential for commercialization
  • Positively impacts women and families

14. Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)

The V-Wise program isn’t a grant, but it’s worth mentioning because it offers excellent training programs and networking opportunities to women veterans and women spouses of veterans. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University operates the program, and it receives some funding from the SBA.

15. GrantsforWomen.org

The GrantsforWomen.org website is a database full of funding opportunities for women business owners. This is a great place to find obscure or new grants and investment funds. Simply browse through its alphabetical list to find many grants for women starting a business.

16. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation

Massachusetts residents benefit from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) Small Business Technical Assistance Grant program. It helps companies that offer assistance to small businesses while supporting development in underserved communities.

17. Dare to Dream Grant

If you or a member of your team are a current student at the University of Michigan, then the Eugene Applebaum Dare to Dream grant may be a fantastic fit. Far more than just a financial award, this program helps individuals or teams develop and launch their company. Grants range from $500 to $5,000.

18. Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City

Founded in 1991, the Women’s Foundation of Kansas City awards grants to non-profit organizations that support women and girls in Missouri and Kansas. Since its beginnings, the foundation has awarded more than $3.5 million in funds.

19. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio

If you run a non-profit that serves women and girls in “one or more of the central Ohio counties of Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, or Union,” this grant is for you. Since 2002, the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio has awarded over $3.6 million to 256 programs.

20. The Boston Women’s Fund (BWF) Grants

According to BWF, the foundation “prioritizes funding to womxn and girls at the grassroots with the least access to resources.” Each year they award a multi-year grant of $10,000 for five years and five one-year grants of $15,000.

21. The Chicago Foundation for Women Grants

The Chicago Foundation for Women provides grants ranging from $15,000 to $150,000 to organizations within the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry, and Will. In the spring, the organization funds groups who support freedom from violence and health initiatives, while during the fall, they fund those that assist with economic security.

22. Startup Runway

According to Startup Runway, “We are selecting startups led by underrepresented founders which have a technical product or solution and actual sales.” Startup Runway supplies grants of $5,000 and $10,000 to award recipients who live in the Southeast throughout the year. After applying, contenders get an opportunity to pitch their vision at a pitch event.

23. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

Although the FedEx Small Business Grant isn’t limited to women entrepreneurs, it’s a fantastic source to look into. FedEx makes an effort to distribute funds evenly to both sexes. Every year the contest delivers grants up to $50,000 to United States companies. Plus, grand prize winners get an additional $7,500 in FedEx Office business and print services.

24. The Zach Grant

Every year the Fundera company awards $2,500 to the best video entry. While The Zach Grant is open to women and men, the application process is so simple (and fun) that it’s worth the effort. This year, Fundera asks entrepreneurs to record a three-minute video that answers the question, “Why did you start your own business?”

25. Walmart Foundation

Open to men and women, the Walmart Foundation supports non-profits. The grants range from $250 to $5,000 and go to the Walmart company’s local areas. The foundation offers an open application process for non-profits who meet one of three qualifications:

  • Creating opportunity
  • Advancing sustainability
  • Strengthening community

26. Idea Cafe Grant

This highly competitive grant is offered to men and women, but the application process is super easy. And the last seven winners were women! The community votes on applications yearly to determine the recipient of the $1,000 Idea Cafe Grant and tons of publicity.

27. National Association for the Self-Employed

If you join the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), you can apply for a growth grant of up to $4,000. This trade association awards one grant per month. You’ll need to send in your business plan and supporting documents that show how the funding will be used. For example, grant monies may fund the hiring of employees, marketing, or advertising.

28. Nav Grant

The company, Nav, awards a first prize winner $10,000 and a second prize winner $5,000. Although the Nav Grant is offered to men and women, it provides an exceptional opportunity for small business owners. You’ll be asked to describe the problem you face and how you’d use the money.

29. Visa Everywhere Initiative

This competition allows fintech startups to compete for huge rewards. The Visa Everywhere Initiative’s main program is open to everyone and offers $150,000 in total awards, whereas the Women’s Global Edition grants two winners each $100,000.

30. Grants.gov

This comprehensive database lists thousands of federally-backed grants. Although Grants.gov can be overwhelming, you can filter the results by eligibility, category, and agency. The site provides tons of information about how to apply and even offers a mobile app.

Secure grants for women starting a business

Are you ready to start your business from home or secure funds for a new office? Although some grant opportunities require basic information, others need much more prep work. Go through the eligibility requirements and application process thoroughly. Then, put your best foot forward by submitting an outstanding application.

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