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6 Business Grants for Women Entrepreneurs

Deborah Sweeney
Deborah Sweeney

In honor of Women's History Month, let's look at business grants for women entrepreneurs.

Findings in the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express revealed that, between 2017 and 2018, women started an average of 1,821 new businesses per day in the United States. In fact, over the last 48 years, the number of U.S. women-owned businesses has dramatically increased from 402,000 to 12.3 million.

Despite the major strides forward in generating revenue and employment for the U.S. economy, women entrepreneurs still struggle to receive proper funding. A 2018 survey conducted by Inc. and Fast Company uncovered that 62 percent of female founders experience bias during startup fundraising.

What happens when women business owners are unable to receive investment capital? They seek financing elsewhere, often through avenues like crowdfunding, dipping into personal savings, or applying for business grants. Whether you're new to entrepreneurship or seeking a little extra funding to cover business expenses, let's take a look at business grants for women entrepreneurs across industries.

1. The Amber Grant

In 1998, a young woman named Amber passed away at the age of 19 before she had a chance to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. WomensNet created The Amber Grant to pay tribute to Amber with a grant specifically for women entrepreneurs.

How do you get an Amber Grant? Interested parties must apply for an Amber Grant which are run monthly, so applications are always being accepted. Judges then select the winners, who each receive $10,000. From there, one of 12 qualifiers are eligible to receive the annual $25,000 Amber Grant. This grant is awarded at the end of each year, bringing their total to $35,000.

Applications for the Amber Grant have a $15 fee. The grant is open to all industries, from food to science, and seeks women applicants who are passionate about their company and have business savvy. Applicants are encouraged to speak from the heart when applying and know that no business dream is too big or small for a chance to receive the grant.


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2. The Halstead Grant

Silver jewelry artists, rejoice! The Halstead Grant wants to help take your jewelry business to the next level. Emerging women jewelry designers in the U.S. are encouraged to apply for The Halstead Grant by Aug. 1 for a chance to receive funding for their business.

Interested parties may fill out a form on the website to download the application and apply. Emily Shaffer, the 2018 winner of The Halstead Grant, received a $7,500 cash grant; $1,000 in jewelry supplies; a trip to Prescott, Arizona; and additional perks that included a feature in grant publication Reveal and a signature trophy.

3. The Girlboss Foundation's Small Business Grant for Women

Launched in 2014, The Girlboss Foundation is the charitable arm of entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso's clothing startup, Nasty Gal. The foundation awards small business grants on a biannual basis to female-identifying entrepreneurs. Grant beneficiaries receive $15,000, local press and exposure through the Girlboss platform for their business.

At the present time, applications are closed for the grant. The Girlboss Foundation plans to announce the winner soon on its website. Check in to see which small business owner won and when applications open again for the next grant!

4. Open Meadows Foundation

Are you a woman entrepreneur currently engaged in a project promoting gender, racial or economic justice? You may qualify for a grant from the Open Meadows Foundation.

Eligible applicants may apply for grants under $2,000 from the Open Meadows Foundation for projects that meet the requirements. They must be designed and implemented by women and girls, promote community building, reflect community diversity within the project's leadership and organization, and have limited financial access. Priority is given to small businesses and startups, providing a much-needed financial boost to smaller organizations creating change. Applications for the spring are currently closed; however, proposals for fall open on July 1 and close at midnight on Aug. 15.

5. Cartier Women's Inititative Awards

Welcome to the big leagues for grants. Created in 2006, the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards fund women entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Women entrepreneurs from any country, of any nationality, and in any industry are welcome to apply for a grant that can take their business to the next level.

How much do the winners receive? Seven laureates (one from each region) are awarded $100,000 in U.S. prize money, and 14 finalists, with two runners-up from each region, receive $30,000 in U.S. prize money. The 21 finalists also receive a scholarship to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Executive Education Programme and a year's worth of mentorship.

Since the stakes are quite high for this grant, there's a great deal of criteria for eligibility. For example, businesses must be for-profit and 1-3 years old. You can view the entire list of criteria at the application's page. Mark your calendars: Applications for the 2020 Cartier Women's Initiative Awards open in June 2019.

6. Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program

The Tory Burch Foundation launched in 2009 as a means of empowering women entrepreneurs and providing them with much-needed capital, education, and access to networking. Its Fellows Program is designed to provide women entrepreneurs with support and community as they grow their businesses.

Who can become a #ToryBurchFellow? You may apply if you are a woman entrepreneur who owns a majority stake in a for-profit, early-stage U.S. business that you manage on a day-to-day basis. You must also be 21 or older, a legal U.S. resident, and proficient in English. Winners will receive a $5,000 grant, a trip to the Tory Burch offices for four days of workshops and networking, a yearlong fellowship, and the opportunity to participate in a pitch day to industry influencers.

The deadline for applications is March 12, 2019, so apply ASAP! Winning fellows will be announced in May 2019.

More grant resources for women entrepreneurs

These six grants are only a few of the options available for women entrepreneurs. Even more grants await! Check in with reputable databases like Grants for Women for a comprehensive list of available grants, or look for the nearest SBA Women's Business Center for local assistance. Make sure you're completely eligible for the grant before applying, apply before the deadline, and track your application. Good luck!

Image Credit: Syda Productions / Shutterstock
Deborah Sweeney
Deborah Sweeney Member
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.