Finance · June 26, 2020

Top Grants Available for Women-Owned Businesses

Like all business owners, female entrepreneurs spend plenty of time looking for funding. However, women-owned businesses typically have less access to traditional funding than those led by males.

The good news is that organizations have stepped up to work with younger, smaller firms who may have difficulty obtaining financing. Some of these entities specifically designate grant funds to women-owned businesses.


Girlboss Foundation

The Girlboss Foundation seeks "to empower the next generation of female entrepreneurs within the creative community." The foundation, launched in 2014, has awarded more than $130,000 in grants to individual creative women entrepreneurs. Grants are $15,000 rewarded semi-annually. The winning entrepreneurs also receive marketing and public relations benefits by exposure through the Girlboss platform, as well as local and regional media.

Applicants must be US residents 18 years of age and older. They must be a female creative entrepreneur in music, the arts, fashion or design. The foundation awards grants for specific projects, which must be outlined in the application. These projects must be completed within 12 months of grant receipt.

Amber Grant

The Amber Grant Foundation was founded in 1998 to memorialize Amber Wigdahl, who died in 1981 before achieving her entrepreneurial dreams. The foundation provides 12 small monthly grants of $4,000 and one large annual grant of $25,000 to women entrepreneurs in any industry.

All who received a grant award between December of the previous year and November of the current year are automatically considered for the annual grant. The grant panel makes the determination for this larger award, but voting through the grant's website is also taken into account.

Cartier Women's Initiative

The Cartier Women's Initiative is open to women all over the world. The Initiative funds 21 grants, three for each of seven global regions. The US is included in the grant's North America region. The top business in each area will receive $100,000, while the other two will receive $30,000. Besides the cash awards, all winners will receive one-on-one business and financial coaching, coaching workshops and networking sessions, media exposure, a scholarship for the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Executive Education Program and ongoing business support.

The Initiative's target is for-profit, women-owned businesses with the potential to achieve significant growth in the coming years. Applicant businesses must be women-owned and controlled and within their first 5 years of official incorporation at the time of application. A woman must also hold the highest management level at the firm, and the founders or employees must have majority ownership. Applicants must be 18 years old or the age of legal majority in the applicant's country, whichever is older.

Additional options

There's always the option to apply for grants that aren't exclusive to women-owned businesses. For example, FedEx awards multiple grants each year to small business owners through its Small Business Grant Contest. Grants range in size from $15,000 to $50,000 and accompany printing and business services awards of $1,000 to $7,500. FedEx provides a range of additional rewards including website audit and assistance, a trip to FedEx headquarters and a consultation with a print expert.

Grants.gov and grantsforwomen.org provide information about a range of grants often related to business ownership but not provided directly to entrepreneurs. If your work has a social or scientific aspect to it, you may be able to receive the funds directly. You could also partner with a government or nonprofit grant recipient.

Local and regional economic development entities also provide grants for development or expansion efforts. These are linked to federal, state or local initiatives and usually change each year based on desired outcomes. Most of these grants require the creation of a minimum number of jobs in the designated geographic area. Check with the applicable economic development entity in your area for more details.

A women-owned business in the early stages has more funding options than you may think. Younger firms with little operating history typically require less funding but also depend more on the owner's credit and vision. In these cases, grants can be an excellent match.

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