Over several decades now and women entrepreneurs are making a tremendous impact on the small business platform, both nationwide as well as overseas. Yet is continued to be competitive and grow, these entrepreneurs have to find financial assistance and funding for their ventures. More importantly, women business owners are coping up with the troubles in order to get bank loans.
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Thankfully, they still have other options, given the rise of technology-driven financial lending sources, such as online loans, peer-to-peer loans, and crowdfunding. Then there are government grants. While not widely known or used, these grants are considered another ideal option for women who are seeking extra funding and financing aid for their business ventures. They just take a little more work.
Small-business grants for women entrepreneurs are essentially free financing, as opposed to business credit cards or small-business loans that you must payback. The competition for small-business grants is fierce, and it takes a lot of amount of time and effort to win them. But if you are up for the challenge, then the payoff can be worth it.
Business owners usually are turning to grants as they are not required to pay them back. Necessarily, you can look at grants as “free money,” but they come with stipulations. And yes, of course, understanding and navigating the grant process is complex and troublesome.
(a) You have to research and find a grant for which you are eligible.
(b) You have to understand the strict application and compliance guidelines you must meet in order to be eligible.
(c) You have to compete with other businesses for the same pool of money.
(d) If you are awarded a grant, you must report on how you used it.
(e) Ultimately, you must devote time and energy to the lengthy application process, then wait for approval.
In a nutshell, you must have to all of your ducks in a row, up-front and afterward.
Here are 11 places women entrepreneurs can look for small-business grants and financial resources.
Some federal government grants for small-business owners are designated and dedicated for particular purposes, such as research and development projects, or for businesses in rural areas. Government grants typically must be used for required aims and purposes other than business startup costs or day-to-day and daily expenditures.
Grants.gov is a database where all the important data and information are stored of federally sponsored grants, including grants for small businesses. To apply, you must obtain a DUNS number for your business (a unique nine-digit identification number), register to do business with the U.S. government with the help of using its System Award Management website, and create an account at Grants.gov.
To view grants particularly for small and micro businesses, filter the results on the left side of the page under Eligibility.
The SBA offers the facility to these two competitive programs, which offer grants to small businesses that contribute to federal research and development. Along with twelve federal agencies the departments of agriculture, defense, and health and human services, post-grant opportunities on their websites.
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You can search current grant opportunities on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) website. In order to qualify, you must operate a for-profit business with no more than 500 employees and meet other eligibility requirements as well.
The Girlboss Foundation grant was popularly launched by entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso, the Girlboss Foundation awards grants twice a year to female and female-identifying entrepreneurs.
Each grant recipient receives funding of $15,000. Grants are exclusive to female business owners working in design, fashion, music, and arts. Selections are judged by creativity and innovation, business acumen and planning, and demonstration of a financial need.
As federal small-business grants are limited to some women but very competitive, you may have good luck looking for grants at the state and municipal levels. You will have to do your own research to pinpoint specific grant programs in your area, but here are some places to look:
The SBA – small business administration sponsors about 100 Women’s Business Centers nationwide, designed to help women entrepreneurs with business development and access to capital. Some women’s business centers such as the California Capital Financial Development Corp., lend and offer money directly, while others help you find small-business grants and loans that you may qualify for.
Every state and many cities have economic development resources focused on promoting strong local economies. For instance, California has various economic development districts, and the Superior California Economic Development District is one of them that offers financing to local entrepreneurs.
There are hundreds of SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Centers around the country, typically housed at colleges and universities. SBDCs provide free, one-on-one business consulting services including help to make profitable business plans, researching markets and finding financing.
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The Amber Grant Foundation which was started in 1998 awards $2,000 to a different women-owned business every month. Once the year is finished, one of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $25,000. The application is relatively simple.
Describe your business, elaborate on what you’d do with the grant money and pay a $15 application fee. The foundation’s advisory board selects the winners, looking for women with passion and a good story. Businesses operating in the U.S. and Canada are eligible.
Eileen Fisher, a popular women’s clothing retailer, awards a total of $100,000 to up to 10 women business owners each year. And in order to meet the eligibility women must make up at least 51% of your business’s ownership and leadership, your business must have been in operation for at least three years, earn less than $1 million annual income, and be focused on environmental or social change.
FedEx offer awards up to $25,000 apiece to 10 small businesses annually. In 2017, the contest offered a total prize pool of $120,500. Those who win the contest get and receives money to use toward FedEx Office print and business services.
The application has a requirement of an explanation of your business, how you’d use the money, photos of your business and — this part is optional — a short video explaining your business. In order to get eligible, you must operate a for-profit business with fewer than 99 employees and with at least six months of operating history.
This nonprofit trade association awards $4,000 per month in growth grants to small businesses that can be used for a variety of business needs, including marketing, advertising and hiring employees.
The Halstead Grant started back in 2006 as a small business grant for women entrepreneurs, particularly in the jewelry industry. The grant is awarded to those who design females jewelry in the United States, specifically geared toward businesses under three years old.
Those who apply should be prepared to answer a series of questions about their business goals and strategies. Winners are awarded a $7,500 cash grant, $1,000 toward Halstead jewelry supplies and publicity within the jewelry industry. The good news is that even those applicants who do not win, receive general feedback on their business plan from the judges.
Although It might seem like there are several small business grants available for women who wish to start or grow their business, however, the above-mentioned options should be well enough to give you a good head start. Also, if you include state and local grant options for women entrepreneurs, then you should have a sizable number of grants to apply for.
Therefore, whichever grant you apply for, make sure you do careful research into the eligibility requirements and submit your application on time.
If for some reason, grants do not work out for you, or if you need additional funding, make sure you explore your other funding options as well. You will surely find a lot more opportunities apart from the ones listed above.