Small Business

Small Business Grants for Women in 2022: The Ultimate Guide | FundThrough

two women small business owners looking for grants on the laptop

In a world where women receive a mere 10% of venture capital, grants are a critical source of business funding for female founders and entrepreneurs.

Grants can be even better than traditional bank loans or credit cards. They’re practically free money that you don’t need to pay back.

But with the benefit of grants for small businesses comes the expected competition for them. Even before COVID-19, competition for small companies was fierce. However, if you keep track of all the funding opportunities available, do your research, and understand your business inside and out, you’ll have a higher chance of securing funding.

We’ve taken the time to identify the 16 best small business grants for women. If you’re seeking funding, follow this guide to make the most of your applications. We’ve also included several extensive databases that provide additional resources and grant options.

16 Best Small Business Grants for Women

Since Covid-19, the small business funding landscape has changed dramatically. That’s why it’s critical to educate yourself on the available options. This section covers grants with recurring monthly due dates, approaching due dates, and grant opportunities with no due dates.

1. Amber Grant

 

The Amber Grant provides 12 opportunities a year for women entrepreneurs to fund their dreams. The foundation was started in 1998 to honour Amber’s legacy, who passed at the age of 19 without realizing her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Every month, a different project is selected for a $2,000 grant. Each of these businesses is also eligible to receive the $25,000 annual grant. The application fee is a reasonable $15, and women can easily apply online each month. 

Eligibility:

  • Fill out the easy application form, which includes the following two questions:
    • Tell us about your business or business idea.
    • Tell us what you would do with the money if awarded a grant.

Deadline:

At the end of every month.

2. National Association for the Self-Employed

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to helping small businesses. All grant applicants must be a NASE member. There are currently five memberships you can choose from that include unique resources, discounts on business tools and software, and access to experts. Starting at just $11.95, you can access the monthly $4,000 growth grant to support your business’s growth needs.

Eligibility:

  • A NASE Subscription starts at $11.95 for a monthly subscription.
  • All applicants with monthly subscriptions must be a member for at least three months before applying (those with annual subscriptions can apply immediately)
  • Grant applications are reviewed quarterly.
  • Completed applications received in October, November, and December will be reviewed in January of the following year.

 

Deadline: Rolling applications. 

3. Tory Burch’s THE FELLOWS PROGRAM

After experiencing challenges in growing her business and securing funding in 2009, Tory Burch founded the Fellows Program to help women-owned small businesses. Only 50 women entrepreneurs will be selected to join the year-long program. The program’s initiatives include access to educational resources and workshops from Goldman Sachs, networking opportunities within an invaluable community of founders through a premier online networking platform, and a $5000 grant.

Eligibility:

  • A woman-identifying entrepreneur who owns either a majority stake (51% or more) in a qualifying business – or – the largest or equal stake in a qualifying business that is 100% owned and controlled by women
  • 21 years or older as of the application due date 
  • A legal resident of the United States
  • Revenue generation; minimum of $75,000 strongly preferred

Deadline: Usually around November 12 every year

4. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant

Eileen Fisher is probably best known for her contributions to the world of fashion, but did you know about her passion for supporting women-owned businesses? Every year, through the program, the company gives out ten grants with a maximum of $10,000 per grant to women-owned businesses that have moved past the startup stage. Applicants can come from multiple industries, but they have to make a positive difference in the environment. You can find out more about the guidelines for the Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant and the status of the program here.

5. Girlboss Foundation Grant

The Girlboss Foundation Grant was founded by the original Nasty Gal herself, Sophia Amoruso, back in 2014. The program was popular for female entrepreneurs focusing on creative businesses in music, fashion, design, and the arts. That’s because grant recipients received $15,000 toward their business and added exposure on the Girlboss platform. Since 2014, the program has given out $130,000 worth of grants.

Currently, there are no updates on the website for the grant. The last funded round was in 2019. However, you can still access valuable resources when you sign up for Girlboss’s Network and newsletter.

Eligibility:

  • United States residency
  • 18 years or older by the time of application
  • Ideal candidates should demonstrate financial need, plus innovation and creativity

6. 37 Angels

37 Angels is a venture capital fund that strives to close the gender gap in startup funding. Seeking VC funding is an excellent option for growing companies with revenue between $50K-500K. Applicants can apply any time through Gust. Securing VC funding is hard, and it’s no different for 37 Angels. Only 8 out of 500 applicants every two months will get the opportunity to pitch in-person for a chance to receive funding from $50K-$200K. You can learn more about the process here.

Eligibility:

  • Impressive teams in attractive markets
  • Traction with at least six months of customer data.
  • See what 37 Angels looks for here.
 
Deadline: Every two months, eight applicants are chosen to pitch their investors. After the pitch, you’ll hear back within four weeks.

7. SBA Loans, Canadian Financing, and Online Invoice Factoring

While these aren’t necessarily small business grants for women, they can still provide valuable funding sources for startups looking to get an influx of cash.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans are specifically developed for small businesses of all shapes and sizes in the United States.

Canada also offers a number of government-funded loans and capital investments for small businesses, including support for rural SMEs. For women they offer several specialized loan options, including::

 

There are still plenty of alternative financing options around for those who are having a difficult time qualifying for an SBA or Canadian Loan or don’t have time to wait for grants to become available. Women entrepreneurs can get funding through online invoice financing by getting their invoices paid in days.

Cash flow is the number reason why most startups fail. One of the best sources for cash flow is unlocking cash tied up in account receivables.

Eligibility:

Deadline: None. Get a funding decision in one day.

8. Union Bank Business Diversity Lending Program

Unlike grants, you’ll have to pay back the funding you receive from Union Bank.

Union Bank is committed to empowering woman-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses.

The program offers many options, including secured or unsecured amounts of up to $2.5 million dollars with fixed or variable rates.

Eligibility:

  • Businesses in operation two years or more
  • At least fifty-one percent (51%) owned, operated, controlled, and actively managed by a woman, minority, or veteran (including any combination of the three)
  • US citizen
  • Annual sales of less than $20 million

 

Deadline: None. 

9. The Halstead Grant​

This grant for female entrepreneurs in the jewelry industry has been around for 13 years. The grant is designed for businesses less than three years old. This qualification makes it perfect for startups!

Winners get a $7,500 grant and another $1,000 they can use on Halstead supplies. Even better, all applicants can still receive advice on their business plans to continue developing as entrepreneurs.

Eligibility:

  • Must be a student or professional jewelry designer
  • Must intend to pursue a full-time career in metal jewelry design
  • Must have a cohesive collection of metal jewelry for resale
  • Must intend to sell at a national level
  • Must have started selling jewelry after January 1, 2016
  • Must not exceed three submissions
  • Must be a US citizen or have a Permanent Resident (Green) Card
  • Fill out the application, which includes a business plan here

Deadline: August 1st each year.

10. FedEx Small Business Grant​

The FedEx Small Business Grant is available to small business owners, men and women. Still, this is an excellent opportunity for women-owned businesses focusing on innovation, sustainability, and products serving niche and underserved markets.

Three winners of the 2022 Grand prize received $50,000, but that’s not all. They also received $4,000 in FedEx Office print and business services. This can go a long way to cutting down monthly expenses and reaching more customers.

Seven Silver prize winners received $20,000 and $1,500 in FedEx services.

Deadline: February 10-28, 2022

11. Communitech’s Fierce Founders Intensive Track

This Candian-specific grant program by Communitech helps women-identifying and/or non-binary-founders to grow their business rapidly. Participants receive coaching from business experts to design a highly-customized growth plan, with the finalists receiving a cash prize of $50,000 from the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario.

 Eligibility:

  • You’re a woman-identifying and/or non-binary founder of a tech-driven company based in southwestern Ontario. 
  • You have less than $5 million USD in investment. 
  • Your team has a balance of both technical and business expertise. 
  • You are a Communitech member who has been engaged with your CSM / advisor for at least six months. 
  • You are able to prove matching funds of at least $50,000 at the time of acceptance into the program (funds from another government grant cannot count towards the matching amount).
  • Your product is in the market and generating revenue, meaning you have product-market fit, defined your ideal customer profile(s), and your customer journey is understood.

 

Deadline: Applications are currently closed. 

12. Cartier Women's Initiative Award ​

That’s right. This is that Cartier. As in, the legendary jewelry brand. But Cartier does much more than create stunning jewelry and watches. The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award is given out once a year to 21 women entrepreneurs. Seven of the top finalists will be awarded USD $100,000, while the other 14 will receive $30,000 each. All finalists will get personalized business and financial coaching, workshops, and networking sessions.

Eligibility:

  • Must be for-profit
  • Early-stage between 1-5 years of licensed/registered operation
  • Generate revenue for at least one year before applying
  • A commitment of up to 4 hours/week for ten months + a 2-week in-person training

 

Deadline: The call for applications for the 2023 edition will open on Monday, May 16, 2022, and close on Thursday, June 30, 2022, 2 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST)

13. Local Grants in Your Area

It’s important to remember the grants available right in your backyard. There are all kinds of grants offered by local and state organizations, along with other valuable resources. Be sure to talk to banks and other institutions near you to learn what might be around. You could be surprised by what you find.

14. Belle Capital

For organizations in IT, Digital Health, and CleanTech with at least one female founder, you are likely eligible for a Belle Capital Grant. Belle Capital is a US-based angel investment firm supporting women business owners and founders.

Eligibility:

  • Show ability to execute
  • Must have a female founder or owner or commit to recruiting top female talent to C-Suite and Board
  • Should have a product in a large or fast-growing market
  • Can reach $20+ million in revenues within 5 years
  • Should be solving an urgent problem
  • Have significant barriers to competitive entry
  • Demonstrate high capital efficiency
  • Offer preferred stock, board seat
  • Present a quality exit plan

 

Deadline: There is no deadline, and you can apply here.

15. Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition

The Women Founders Network hosts a competition every year to help women business owners and entrepreneurs sharpen their pitches to angel and VC investors. While the competition offers up to $55,000 in cash, the real steal is the networking opportunity for female entrepreneurs looking to cement themselves in the business space. Ten lucky winners will get one-on-one coaching, a personal finance mentor, a virtual meet and greet with sponsors and investors, and potential cash investment from investors. All they have to do to get started is apply online.

Eligibility:

  • Founder/Co-Founder/CEO must be a woman, or the business must be majority-owned by a woman.
  • Must participate in the annual Fast Pitch Event.
  • Businesses must be based in the United States.
  • Early-stage companies should be able to show customer interest, such as through customer sign-ups, surveys, LOIs, and other relevant information.
  • Business owners should have raised less than $750k, including personal cash.
  • Open to all industries except Life Sciences, nonprofit, or cannabis/CBD companies.

 

Deadline: In 2022, the deadline is between April 18 and June 1, 2022

16. Women Who Tech

As you might imagine, Women Who Tech is a nonprofit organization aiming to support women business owners and entrepreneurs in the tech space. Out of over 8000 women-led startups supported by Women Who Tech, 40% are led by women of colour, and 81% are still in business. And this organization just doesn’t have one grant-their grant program has had four:

  • FemTech + HealthTech Grant – $20,000
  • Emerging Tech Grant – $20,000
  • Tech Grant – $13,000
  • COVID-19 Tech Grant – $13,000

Generally, these are split between a $15,000 Innovation Grant and a $5,000 Impact Grant. Applications are completed online, and specific grants open up at different times throughout the year.

Eligibility:

  • Startups cannot have raised more than $7 million.
  • Each business must have at least one woman founder or co-founder.
  • All materials must be submitted in English.
  • Anyone in the world may apply.
  • Products must be in beta or fully launched to the public.
  • Previous winners are not eligible.

 

Deadline:

  • FemTech + HealthTech Grant – July 22, 2022
  • Equity-free grants are awarded on a rolling basis.

Small Business Grant Databases for Women

There are a variety of grants available for women entrepreneurs, and it’s often necessary to apply to several programs at once. At the same time, you may want to widen your net to cash grant programs that aren’t just specific to women business owners. You may also want to pursue mentorship programs or challenges related to your particular industry or business development needs.

Grant and program databases are the best way to narrow your search and keep track of current grant programs.

GrantsforWomen.org

First launched in 2001, Grants for Women is an index of funding opportunities for women business owners. The website offers an A to Z directory for grants and scholarships for women. 

They also provide summary information about the different types of grant money available, including government grants, private grants, and professional grants. In addition, there is a section on how to apply for grant programs.

Grants.gov

Grants.gov is a massive government grant database that is geared toward providing information for business development funding. This website is the end-all, be-all of government grants, and it includes extensive information on eligibility, how to apply, a full-scale grant search, and other information. 

However, this grant money isn’t just for women entrepreneurs. There are grants for just about any type of business under the sun, including government agencies, education organizations, public housing authorities, nonprofit organizations, and small businesses.

Challenge.gov

Rather than provide grant money opportunities, Challenge.gov is all about solving problems. 

The United States Federal Government offers prizes for individuals who can help solve active challenges. But some of these challenges look similar to funding rounds, such as America’s Seed Fund Startup Expo Competition. Others may be focused on issues such as destigmatizing mental health or innovations in wildlife conservation. While it’s not officially a federal grant program, it’s an opportunity to be rewarded for innovation and hard work.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Women's Business Centers (WBCs)

The Women’s Business Center is a national network of centers meant to help entrepreneurs. These business centers typically offer free or low-cost training, mentorship, and counselling for business development. Centers may also keep tabs on local grant opportunities and other relevant funding options. The Small Business Administration makes it easy to find your local chapter here.

Canadian Business Grant Center

Another immense database is the Canadian Business Grant Center. They not only have their own funding finder engine, but they also list recent grant recipients and offer some best practices for applying to funding opportunities.  



Top 10 Tips for Writing a Successful Grant Application:​

1) Follow the guidelines and step-by-step process and make sure you are eligible!​​

2) Put yourself in the reader’s shoes.​

Assume that the reader knows nothing about your business or industry. Reduce jargon or unnecessary vocabulary in your writing.

3) Focus on why your solution solves a problem- not the how!

Assume that the reader knows nothing about your business or industry. Reduce jargon or unnecessary vocabulary in your writing.

4) Make sure you have a strong why and communicate it in a way that grabs the readers' attention.

Readers want to be inspired by your mission. If you haven’t already, watch this TedTalk by Simon Sinek.

5) Go through business matrix exercises.

If you’ve already created a business plan, chances are, you’ve come across these popular frameworks. Getting these frameworks accurate the first time is difficult. We suggest asking the right people to look over your business plan and matrix. Even if you don’t have to include a business plan in your grant proposal, you should still go through these exercises to better understand your business and environment.

 

6) Triple check your finances

Make sure your budget matches your proposal and timeline. It’s easy to be overly ambitious, but most grant applications fall flat when there is a misalignment in budget and goals.

7) Focus on how you can pull it off.

Highlight your strengths! Emphasize your team talent, competitive advantage, customer loyalty, so on, and so forth.

8) Be clear, realistic, and transparent.

Turn your goals into S.M.A.R.T goals—the more realistic and sound your proposal, the higher your chances of success.

9) Be concise.

Every sentence should be important and impactful. Most grant readers go through hundreds of applications a day. Make sure you stand out by focusing on what’s important.

10) Proofread thoroughly

Get feedback from people you trust or, better yet, ask grant editors or previous successful grant winners for review.

Small Business Grants for Canadian Women-Owned Businesses:

Shopify’s COVID-19 government relief program resources around the world: Government Relief Programs for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19.

Government of Canada’s resource page: Funding for businesswomen

Ontario Business Grant’s comprehensive list: Female Entrepreneur Grants (2020): 18 Current Programs for Women-Owned Businesses

MieiIQ’s comprehensive blog post on funding opportunities for women: Small Business Loans and Grants for Women in Canada Blog

Intuit’s Canadian government funding resource: Where to Find Government Funding for Women Entrepreneurs

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