If you’re starting a business and need outside financing, it’s natural to be wary of small-business loans. Why take on debt if you can get a grant that you won’t have to repay?
If you need business financing, two more likely options are business credit cards and small-business loans for women. The competition is fierce for small-business grants, and it takes a lot of time and effort to find them and complete the applications. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the payoff can be worth it.
The federal government offers some grants for small-business owners, but they’re designated for very specific purposes, such as certain research and development projects or for businesses in rural areas.
Government grants can’t be used to cover startup costs or day-to-day expenses, and most aren’t earmarked specifically for women.
Business owners or women in business often turn to grants because they are not required to pay them back. Essentially, you can look at grants as “free money,” but the come with stipulations. Also, understanding and navigating the grant process can be complex.
First, you have to research and find a grant for which you’re eligible. Then, you have to understand the strict application and compliance guidelines you must meet, to be eligible. Third, you have to compete with other businesses for the same pool of money. Fourth, if you’re awarded a grant, you must report on how you used it. Finally, you must devote time and energy to the lengthy application process, then wait for approval. In a nutshell, you need to have all of your ducks in a row, up-front and afterward.
There is much competition for grant money so getting educated on the grant writing process, and how grants work is paramount to increasing your chances of getting one. If your start up business has anything to do with specialized research, technology, or energy, the Federal government may be interested in helping you. The government is always looking for innovative business ideas that stand out from the crowd and help society in general. Seeking them out may be a bit of a challenge bur if you search diligently you will find them.
The federal government offers some grants for small-business owners, but they’re designated for very specific purposes, such as certain research and development projects or for businesses in rural areas. Government grants can’t be used to cover startup costs or day-to-day expenses, and most aren’t earmarked specifically for women.
There are other grant resources offered from independent sites that relay news and information about foundation grants and private individuals giving funds to small businesses.
Private Grants for Women
To help in your search, we gathered information on these private grants for women entrepreneurs started:
#1. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program: Five grants are awarded annually. The businesses must be 100 percent women-owned and have founding principles of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation, plus be ready to move to the next phase of development.
#2. FedEx Think Bigger — Small Business Grant Program: Applicants are encouraged to share their visions to receive a portion of the awarded in grants.
#3. InnovateHER: 2017 Innovating for Women Business Challenge: This business challenge is sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Women’s Business Ownership. The challenge awards three winners in prize money for businesses that have an impact on the lives of women.
#4. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): Twelve different federal agencies participate in this awards-based program, which incentivizes and enables small businesses to explore their technological potential.
#5. Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR): The STTR program reserves a specific percentage of federal research and development funding to provide funding opportunities in research and development.
#6. Zions Bank — Smart Women Smart Money: This Utah-based bank’s grant annually awards $3,000 across six different categories, including business.
#7. Consider Grants.gov: which is a database of all federally sponsored grants. You can search for small-business grants at Grants.gov. Just make sure you filter the results on the left side of the page to view grants specifically for small businesses.
#8. WomensNet.Net: is an organization that started the Amber Foundation Grant program. Since 1998, every month the Amber Grant program has provided funding to assist women who are interested in opening small businesses. These include primarily home-based businesses and online businesses. They usually give between $500 and $1,000.
#9. Halstead Bead Incorporated: offers its Annual Business Development Grant to women who are interested in starting a jewelry business. Once every summer, one lucky recipient is awarded a package worth $6,000 in cash and merchandise to open their business. The 2012 grant will be awarded to a woman who wishes to base her jewelry business on silver. Halstead would like to see different techniques of jewelry design such as hand fabricating, art clay, lamp work, and casting. Originality is important. Applications will be accepted between April 15 and June 9.
#10. The Chicago Foundation for Women: is looking out for women’s interests by awarding grants to those who are interested in bettering themselves by building a new business. They began their grant program in 1985 and have awarded 2,900 grants coming to a total of $19,000,000 since then. Their goals are to strengthen economic security, work toward a violence free world, and better Americans’ access to healthcare.
#11. Women’s Financial Fund: is a non-profit organization which offers grants for strong independent women who are interested in opening their own businesses. Women may apply for a New Business Grant or, if they already run a business, they are encouraged to apply for Existing Business Grants.
#12. The Huggies Mom-Inspired Grant Program: awards $15,000 in funding for African-American women who want to open a new business that will benefit the lives of parents.
#13. The Business Owners’ Idea Café Small Business Grant: provides funding to African-American women. This grant is open to women who already have their own business. The business must have been open for a minimum of six months. The grant winner will receive $1,000 in cash and an additional $1,500 in advertisements. Awards will be given for the second- and third-place winners as well. They will receive $500 in advertisements.
After you find a funding opportunity, there are steps required to apply. A few tips to assist you:
- Make sure that your business is eligible for the grant: Read the grant synopsis guidelines and eligibility requirements.
- Create a checklist for all of the documents required.
- Follow the rules. Grant applications can be very technical. It wouldn’t hurt to have a second (or even third) set of eyes when reviewing the application to ensure that you have provided all accompanying documents.
- Start early. Since the application process can be long in some cases, it doesn’t hurt to get a jump on things.