Recent years have seen significant growth in the number of businesses owned and operated by women. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, just over a third of all businesses are female-owned, and 99.9% of these are small businesses. Owning your own business can offer a chance to pursue your passion with greater creative freedom. However, one of the most challenging hurdles in starting any business is finding suitable financial resources. To help you get started, here are a few of the best small business grants for women.
1. The Amber Grant
With a series of monthly $500 awards and an annual $2500 award, the Amber Grant aims to generate opportunities for female entrepreneurs and is one of the best small business grants for women. Sponsored by WomensNet, “The Amber Foundation helps women start businesses and helps existing ones grow. The funding grants are small but helpful in getting you started. There is no requirement or expectation to repay the funds."
2. The InnovateHer Challenge
Backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, InnovateHer aims to create opportunities for small business owners whose projects help to empower women and selects its finalists via competitive annual regional events. According to the website, “InnovateHer provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. to showcase products and services that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, have the potential for commercialization, and fill a need in the marketplace.”
3. The Eileen Fisher Grant
In addition to creating a worthwhile collection of slouchy tees, cardigans, and shift dresses, Eileen Fisher is also seeking to empower women in business. The designer says, “Everyone has a purpose and everyone should have the opportunity to be able to do whatever they dream or to get in touch with what matters to them.” More information on her grant, which offers up to $10,000 to 10 women business owners annually, can be found on her site.
4. Women's Business Center
Throughout the U.S., over 100 Women’s Business Centers (or WBCs) have been established by the U.S. Small Business Administration, each with the goal of connecting women with specific grant and funding opportunities. To find the best small business grants for women in your area, a list of resources by region can be found on the SBA’s website.
5. The Open Meadows Foundation
If your project is not only female-run but also designed to benefit others, the Open Meadows Foundation provides one of the best small business grants for women. It awards grants of up to $2000 and accepts applications twice annually. According to the foundation, “We are looking for projects focused on activism, political change, and empowerment directed by and benefiting women and girls.”
For more resources, information, and a helpful guide to finding additional small business grants for women, we recommend exploring new opportunities listed at grantsforwomen.org.