10 Grants For Women-Owned Small Businesses & Other Funding Resources
Explore small business grants for women-owned businesses and learn about alternative funding options available now.
Women business owners in need of funding should explore small business grants before borrowing. Grants are a viable form of funding, and, unlike loans, they don’t need to be paid back. Although grants can help provide financing to women business owners, most of these grants are highly competitive and have very specific qualification criteria. However, some grants, such as Amber Grants, are open to all women-owned businesses.
Read on to learn about some small business grants for women that you can apply for today.
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What Are The Best Small Business Grants For Women?
These ten small business grants for women are available to women-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups that want to start or expand a business. We’ve included the submission dates, entry requirements, and websites for the top women-owned small business grants, so you can easily submit your grant application.
1) Amber Grant
- Submission Dates: The submission deadline is on the last day of every month; the winner is announced in the first week of the following month.
- Entry Requirements: Open to all female entrepreneurs age 18 and up living in the United States or Canada and who pay a $15 application fee. Both for-profit and nonprofit businesses are eligible.
- Website: ambergrantsforwomen.com
This grant isn’t for a very large amount of money, but it is easy to qualify and apply for. Named after a young woman named Amber, who died before being able to fulfill her entrepreneurial dreams, the Amber Grant awards $10,000 to two woman-owned businesses in grants every month. At the end of the year, two of the 24 monthly winners win another grant for $25,000.
Note that while you can only apply every three months, Amber Grants only recommends reapplying if something significant about your business has changed since the last time you applied.
2) Cartier Women’s Initiative
- Submission Dates: The call for applications for the 2023 grant is now open and will close on Thursday, June 30, 2022. The awardees are announced in April 2023.
- Entry Requirements: Open to women-run, for-profit, early-stage, revenue-generating, sustainable businesses from any country; Science & Technology Pioneer Award applicants must also be in the field of technology or scientific innovation, and the Diversity, Equity. & Inclusion Award is open to all genders.
- Website: cartierwomensinitiative.com
The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is one of the largest and most prestigious women-owned business grants, but the competition is steep. Cartier offers a total of 33 grants for women-owned businesses across three grant categories: Regional Awards, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award, and Science & Technology Pioneer Award.
Cartier’s Regional Awards provides 27 women-owned small business grants (to three laureates from each of nine global regions). First place receives $100,000 each, second place receives $60,000, and third place winners get $30,000 each. Cartier’s Science & Technology Pioneer Award provides grants of $100,000, $60,000, and $30,000 to one first, second, and third place laureate, respectively; the same is true for the Cartier’s Diversity Award.
3) Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program
- Submission Dates: The 2022 submission deadline was November 2021; you can apply for the 2023 cohort in September 2022.
- Entry Requirements: This program is open to women-run, for-profit, early-stage, revenue-generating ($75,000 minimum strongly preferred) businesses operating in the US.
- Website: toryburchfoundation.org
Each spring, up to 50 finalists of this women-owned business grant competition are selected for a $5,000 grant to be used for business education. The finalists also receive a one-year Tory Burch Fellowship and a free five-day trip to Tory Burch Offices in NYC over the summer.
The free trip includes a workshop, networking opportunities, and a Pitch Day event where a select group of finalists will have the chance to pitch their business to industry influencers. Note that the $5,000 grant cannot be used for purposes other than business education.
4) Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition
- Submission Dates: Applications for 2022 are currently closed. Applications for 2023 should open in the Summer of 2022.
- Entry Requirements: Open to early-stage, women-owned businesses with high growth potential. Must be US based and have received no more than $750,000 in outside funding. Businesses must be for-profit and fall into either the “Tech/Tech-enabled” or “Consumer/CPG/Other Non-tech” category. The business owner must also be available to participate in the in-person Fast Pitch competition.
- Website: womenfoundersnetwork.com
The Women Founders Network is an organization that provides both capital and mentorship to women business owners. WFN is an excellent grant opportunity if you have an innovative company that you want to take to the next level.
The organization’s Fast Pitch competition selects five finalists to receive free grant money and free professional services each year. Through two rounds of voting, judges select the five top female founders, who then pitch their companies in a “Shark Tank”-style competition to compete for more than $55,000 in cash prizes and over $100,000 in professional services.
5) 37 Angels
- Submission Dates: Eight finalists are selected every two months to pitch their company; business owners are encouraged to apply at least two weeks before the next pitch forum. Pitch forums take place in Feb, Apr, Jun, Sep, and Nov. The next pitch forums for 2022 are on June 24 and September 16, 2022.
- Entry Requirements: This program is open to early-stage, high-growth companies in attractive markets, such as technology and B2B/B2C. Most of the companies they fund have between $50K-500K in revenue.
- Website: 37angels.com
Angel investment isn’t a grant, per se, as the investors that fund you will have an interest in your company. But angel investing can be a good option for women-owned startups that could benefit from some direction and industry expertise in growing their company, as well as the funds to do so. NYC-based 37 Angels is an angel investment group designed to close the gender gap in angel investing. The grant is open to women- and men-led companies (but the group’s portfolio favors female founders).
There’s a simple online application to apply for funding, and if you’re selected as a finalist, you’ll pitch your company to a group of investors in New York. You should receive a decision within four weeks of pitching, and most angels receive $50,000 to $200,000 in seed funding, along with professional help growing their company.
6) Halstead Grant
- Submission Dates: The deadline is August 1 each year. Postmark your 2022 grant application by August 1, 2022.
- Entry Requirements: Open to US jewelry designers who work primarily in silver, have been in business for three to five years, and are pursuing jewelry design as a full-time career (not a hobby or part-time job).
- Website: grant.halsteadbead.com
Halstead Grants are annual grants given to emerging metal jewelry designers. While not strictly for women, I’ve included this grant on our list because the jewelry industry is heavily female-dominated, and most (but not all) of the past grant winners have been women. The grant consists of $7,500 in startup capital and $1,000 in Halstead merchandise. Halstead also recognizes up to five semi-finalists and finalists who receive $250 or $500 and helps promote their business. Note that you must submit a jewelry collection as part of your application.
7) SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
- Submission Dates: Applications are currently live. Grants are issued on a rolling basis, so there isn’t any particular date you need to apply by.
- Entry Requirements: Open to anyone who self-identifies as a Black woman or Black nonbinary entrepreneur, has a legally registered business that provides a scalable, high-impact solution, and plans to seek investor financing.
- Website: https://www.iamsogal.com/
SoGal Black Founder Startup Grants is a project offering $10K and $5K grants to black female and nonbinary entrepreneurs. These grants are made possible through a partnership of SoGal Foundation, Winky Lux, bluemercury, twelveNYC, Twilio, Walmart.org’s Center for Racial Equity, and other sponsors. It’s not clear how often these grants are issued; the most recent grant winners listed on the website are from 2020, but the website says grant applications are still open.
8) Fearless Fund Strivers Small Business Grant
- Submission Dates: The National Grant program has monthly entry periods, which extend from 2/10/22-12/31/22. There are also region-specific grants for Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, CA, which have an application period of 6/15/22-7/12/22.
- Entry Requirements: This program is open to Black females who are the principal owner of a US-based small business with annual revenue of $3,000,000 or less and 50 or fewer employees. Applicants to the regional grants must have businesses physically located in that city.
- Website: https://www.fearless.fund/strivers
The Fearless Fund Strivers Grant contest offers $10,000 small business grants to Black female business owners across the country. The grants are made possible through a partnership between the Fearless Fund (a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Black entrepreneurs obtain capital) and Mastercard. There’s a simple online application you can fill out to apply for one of these grants in 2022.
Earlier in 2022, the Fearless Fund additionally offered $10,000 to $20,000 grants through partnerships with the Tory Burch Foundation, Goldman Sachs, and other sponsors; however, the application for these “Small Business Grants For Women Of Color” grants closed in February 2022. Still, it’s probably a good idea to check if Fearless Fund offers further grants for WOC-led small businesses in 2023.
9) Dream Big Awards
- Submission Dates: The deadline for small businesses to apply this year is July 8, 2022.
- Entry Requirements: To qualify for the Dream Big Woman-Owned Business Achievement Award, your for-profit small business must have been in operation for at least one year and be at least 51% owned or controlled by one or more women who are US residents. At least one woman must also control business management and daily operations.
- Website: https://dreambig.awardsplatform.com/
Dream Big Awards are annual small business grants offered by the US Chamber of Commerce. There are awards across eight categories, including a category specifically for women-owned small businesses. There is also a category for LBGT and nonbinary-owned small businesses and a grant for the Dream Big Small Business Of The Year, to which small business owners of any gender can apply.
The Small Business Of The Year winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize. However, the winners of the eight grant subcategories (including the Woman-Owned Business Achievement Award) will not receive a cash prize. Instead, they receive a one-year paid US Chamber of Commerce Membership (valued at $250), a promotional video played during the award ceremony, and an article featuring your business published on the US Chamber of Commerce’s website.
10) Women Who Tech
- Submission Dates: Applications for the 2021 Women Who Tech Emerging Tech grant closed July 22, 2021. Application dates for 2022 have not been announced, so it’s not clear whether WWT will award any grants in 2022 or beyond.
- Entry Requirements: This program is open to North America-based, women-owned startups in tech that have already raised $50K in seed revenue or are already generating revenue.
- Website: womenwhotech.com
Women Who Tech is the largest network of women-led startups, investors, and allies working to increase diversity and funding in the technology sector. The organization awards equity-free grants to women-led tech startups on a rolling basis throughout the year. For each grant period, there is a different theme. For the first grant period of 2021, the theme was Emerging Tech; the winners’ businesses focused on emerging technologies to solve systemic global problems.
The first-place prize winner for the Women Who Tech Emerging Tech grant received $15,000, and the second-place awardee received $5,000. Grant details for 2022/2023 are TBA, but you can sign up on WWT’s website to be alerted when the next grant cycle opens up.
What About The InnovateHer Women Business Challenge?
There was previously a nationwide SBA business grant competition for women called the InnovateHer Challenge, organized by the US Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership. The InnovateHer Challenge awarded federal grant money to three finalists every year from 2015-2017. These grants were reserved for businesses that used innovation to improve the lives of women. Among the winners who applied in 2016, first place won $40,000; second place received $20,000; third place got $10,000.
Unfortunately, this SBA grant quietly disappeared under the Trump administration, but we’ll let you know if this program, or any other SBA grant for women, is funded during Biden’s tenure.
Other Business Grant Resources For Women
Here is more information on grants for women in business, as well as other opportunities and ideas for business financing.
Note that the SBA does offer some resources for women-owned businesses, even if it doesn’t necessarily offer actual cash. For example, the Women Veteran Entrepreneurial Training Program can help you get free business training if you are both a woman and a veteran. You can (and should) also check with your local SBA Women’s Business Center (WBC) to see what local business resources they can connect you with. These resources may include local women-in-business grants specific to your city or state.
Federal Contracts For Women-Owned Businesses
If you think your business could be eligible for federal contracts, you should also know that the government reserves a certain percentage of federal contracts for women-owned small businesses (WOSB) in industries where women are underrepresented. Some examples are forestry, construction, HVAC, manufacturing, and other eligible businesses that you might not expect, such as beauty salons, nail salons, family planning centers, and women’s apparel manufacturing.
Some federal contracts are even restricted further to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB). So if you own a business in a male-dominated field, which is pretty much all of them, be sure to look into this program.
You can use some business crowdfunding platforms to raise money for your woman-owned business. In most cases, you may need to offer backers a tangible reward or equity in your business in exchange for funding. However, with some platforms, such as Kiva, you can raise up to $10,000 for your business with no strings attached. Learn more about Kiva in our comprehensive Kiva review. Or read about different types of crowdfunding for businesses to learn more about your business crowdfunding options.
Business Loans For Women Small Business Owners
For many women business owners, a business loan might be the most viable option for funding. Unlike a grant, you do have to pay loans back — but they’re much easier to get, even if you have bad credit or haven’t been in business for long. For example, you can get bad credit startup loans or even no credit check business loans.
If you’re not sure what your score is or whether your score would qualify you for most business loans, read our blog post to learn more about business credit scores.
More Educational Resources On Grants
Want to learn more about how business grants work and how to find and apply for one? We’ve published numerous informative articles on small business grants you can use to educate yourself about grants. Here are a few places to get started:
- Learn whether business grants are taxable
- Find out how to find a startup grant
- Discover whether you qualify for a startup grant
- Read up on general information about small business grants
Small Business Grants For Women: Additional Options
Grants represent a viable form of free funding for select, exceptionally talented women business owners. If you can present an especially impressive application, essay, business plan, and in some cases an in-person pitch, you might come away with some free cash to help bring your entrepreneurial dreams to fruition.
However, such grants are highly competitive, and in most cases, even if you win a prized spot, you won’t receive a large amount of capital. Some select grants are available to small businesses in general, including grants for startup businesses, but these grant programs are similarly competitive. Generally, there just isn’t a lot of grant money to be had for for-profit businesses.
If you are looking at grants for women business owners because you don’t qualify for a business loan, you might consider a business credit card that can cover some of your expenses. There are even business credit cards for bad credit and business credit cards for startups.
In the long run, improving your personal and business credit scores can help your woman-owned small business qualify for financing. Be sure to check out our blog post on how to improve your business credit score.