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Updated Jan 03, 2024

The Best Business Grants for Women

Business Grants for Women Entrepreneurs

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Written By: Kiely KuligowskiSenior Writer & Expert on Business Strategy
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About 4 in 10 first-time entrepreneurs are women — a statistic that’s remained consistent for years, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Moreover, women-owned businesses enjoyed an average earnings growth of 27 percent, compared with 22 percent for businesses owned by men, Biz2Credit’s annual women-owned business study found. 

However, the Biz2Credit study also revealed that the average loan size for women-owned businesses ($49,712) is 40 percent lower than for businesses owned by men ($83,198). 

Editor’s note: Looking for the right loan for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Women entrepreneurs are often forced to look beyond traditional business loans and funding sources for money to start a business or expand operations. Business grants are often an excellent avenue to pursue. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Business grants and business loans differ. A loan must be repaid, but a grant does not. Additionally, grants take longer to approve and often have specific approval criteria.

Best grants for women

Small business grants intended specifically for women can help them launch startups, create products, purchase buildings and more. Here are seven of the best grants for women in business. (Note: Some application deadlines may have already closed; check the grants’ websites for announcements on next year’s dates.)

1. 37 Angels

37 Angels is a group of angel investors actively seeking to close the gender gap in startup investing. You can receive a potential investment of up to $200,000, as well as education and ongoing support. Eight applicants are chosen every two months to pitch their businesses to the network. Visit 37 Angels online to learn more. 

  • Who is eligible: Any female startup business owner
  • How to apply: Submit an application through the Gust platform.

2. The Amber Grant

The Amber Grant was created in 1998 by WomensNet to honor Amber Wigdahl, a young woman who died before she could achieve her entrepreneurial dreams. The grant awards $10,000 to three female business owners each month of the year; one of the monthly winners is awarded an additional $25,000 at the end of the year. Visit The Amber Grant online to learn more.

3. Cartier Women’s Initiative Award

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award is given annually to 21 female entrepreneurs around the world. Seven finalists receive $100,000 and individual business mentoring from an expert. The remaining 14 finalists receive $30,000. All 21 finalists get a spot in the six-day INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme and the opportunity to participate in workshops and seminars. 

  • Who is eligible: Women business owners in the early stages (one to three years) of developing their business.
  • How to apply: Visit the Cartier Women’s Initiative online and follow the application instructions.

4. IFundWomen

IFundWomen is a crowdfunded grant platform for female entrepreneurs. In addition to business coaching and an online community, it offers general grants and grants funded by partners with specific requirements. Visit IFundWomen online to learn more.

TipBottom line
If you're comparing a business loan versus crowdfunding, consider how fast you need the money, your odds of being approved for a business loan, and whether you have the marketing resources for a crowdfunding campaign.

5. She’s Connected by AT&T

She’s Connected by AT&T awards $20,000 to female entrepreneurs and small business owners. Winners also get a full year of service with a new device and are featured on #ShesConnected. Visit She’s Connected by AT&T online to learn more.

  • Who is eligible: American women age 18 or older heading businesses with fewer than 50 employees
  • How to apply: Visit She’s Connected by AT&T online and complete the application.

6. Fearless Strivers

The Fearless Strivers Grant Initiative is funded by Mastercard and awards $20,000 to four women-owned businesses annually. It also provides mentorship and digital business tools to the winners.

  • Who is eligible: Black women age 18 and older who are U.S. residents and the principal owner of a U.S.-based small business
  • How to apply: Visit the Fearless Fund online and complete the application. 
Did You Know?Did you know
According to Guidant, in 2023, 18 percent of U.S.-based women-owned businesses were new independent businesses, 29 percent were independent businesses purchased from someone else, 41 percent were new franchise operations and 11 percent were franchises bought from someone else.

7. Tory Burch Foundation

The Tory Burch Foundation started in 2009 to empower women and provide them with capital, education and networking resources for their businesses. Through its Fellows Program, women can receive a $5,000 grant toward their business education, access to zero-interest loans through Kiva, a trip to the Tory Burch offices for workshops with founders and business experts, and an opportunity to pitch their business to investors. Visit the Tory Burch Foundation online to learn more. 

  • Who is eligible:S.-based women entrepreneurs with a for-profit business under 5 years old.
  • How to apply: Visit the The Fellows Program online and follow the application instructions.

What are business grants?

A small business grant is money that federal, state, county or local governments or private corporations give to a business. Grants are unique in that they do not require repayment of any kind — a highly beneficial consideration for small business owners. 

Grant funding can help small businesses avoid riskier or more expensive funding sources, like venture capital investments, small business loans and alternative lenders. However, applying for grants is a notoriously long and challenging process, and funding is never guaranteed. Many small businesses hire a professional grant writer to help them with the process.

TipBottom line
If you've decided that a small business loan is the right funding avenue to pursue, read our reviews of the best business loans to evaluate borrowing costs, terms and more.

Types of grants

There are four primary grant types available to small businesses and startup founders:

1. Government grants

Government grants for small businesses come in three forms: federal, state and local. 

  • Federal grants: Federal grants are generally the most competitive because they tend to offer the most money. However, they are often connected with a government agency and typically have strict eligibility requirements and stipulations on how you can use the money.
  • State grants: State grants offer less money than federal grants but tend to be less competitive, depending on your state. State governments may work with the federal government to administer money designated for small business grants.
  • Local grants: Local grants are the easiest to get but usually offer the least money. They tend to focus on improving the local community, so if that sounds like your business, you have a good shot at receiving local grant money.

2. SBA grants

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is one of many government agencies that offer grants to small businesses. The SBA offers three types of business grants each year: two for businesses involved in research and development and one for businesses pursuing scientific endeavors that could be commercialized and utilized by the federal government.

The SBA also works with state governments to help local small businesses investing in export development through the State Trade Expansion Program.

Did You Know?Did you know
The SBA also facilitates loans. SBA loans usually have flexible limits and repayment terms, as well as lower interest rates than conventional bank loans.

3. Minority grants

Minority grants cover funding for specific groups, including women, veterans, and different racial or ethnic groups. Some government agencies and private organizations offer grants specifically for female entrepreneurs and minority-led businesses. [Read related article: Top Small Business Grants for Minorities in 2024]

4. Corporate grants

Outside the government, many private companies invest in entrepreneurial projects to advance their philanthropy efforts or to nurture innovative new projects they may wish to acquire or use in the future.

Generally, to obtain a corporate grant, businesses are asked to turn in portfolios, essays or business plans as part of their application. These are some examples of popular corporate grants: 

You can find lists of other available corporate grants on the Council on Foundations website, which is free, or Candid’s Foundation Directory, which requires a subscription. 

How to get approved for a grant

Getting approved for a grant is challenging, so prepare for a lot of time and work if you decide to apply. Most grants have strict requirements or highly specific qualifications, so the hardest part is often finding grants that are well suited to you. 

While the process differs according to the grant, follow these general tips to increase your approval chances:

  • Research suitable grants. There are thousands of grants out there, each with specific requirements and qualifications. Investigating as many as possible is the best way to increase your chances of receiving a grant. Consider visiting online grant directories, like GuideStar, GrantStation, Grant Gopher, Terra Viva and Grants.gov.
  • Ensure you qualify for the grant. Before undertaking the arduous process of applying for a grant, make sure you meet all of the requirements. Grants are known for being extremely specific about their recipients and money usage, so it’s worth your time to understand the requirements.
  • Know how you’ll use the grant money. Before applying for a grant, you must know precisely how you plan to use the funds and why you think you deserve the award. Be prepared to submit charts, graphs, projection sheets or other documents to illustrate your intentions clearly.
  • Consider hiring a grant writer. The grant application process can be so challenging to get through that there’s an entire profession devoted to it. A grant writer can help ensure you meet all requirements and package your application well.

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article. 

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Written By: Kiely KuligowskiSenior Writer & Expert on Business Strategy
Kiely Kuligowski is recognized for her expertise in project management and business software. With a strong background in project oversight, she excels in defining project scopes, monitoring timelines and ensuring high-quality deliverables for a diverse range of clients. In addition to her proficiency in project management, Kuligowski also possesses experience in product marketing and has made valuable contributions to business fundraising endeavors. In the realm of business software, Kuligowski has reviewed a number of modern digital tools, such as email marketing services and document management systems, and advised business owners on purchasing decisions and usage best practices. Recently, Kuligowski has focused on sustainability software and project management at IBM, further establishing her as a respected authority in her field.
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