The U.S. has 12.3 million women-owned businesses that generate $1.8 trillion a year, according to Fundera. By starting your own business, you can join these 12.3 million female entrepreneurs who have decided to take the leap and build their dream.
Starting your own business as a female entrepreneur is not without its challenges. A few obstacles that female-owned business owners tend to face is the pressure to balance family and business obligations, being taken seriously by male counterparts and receiving funding for their business. According to Fundera, the most positive trend for women business owners in 2019 was the ability to obtain equal funding as men at a lower cost, across all loan categories. Women entrepreneurs requested just 65 percent of what men requested, but in the end, both genders received similar amounts of financing.
This is a trend that has definitely improved over time since there are now plenty of resources for women who are launching their businesses in order to help curb the funding issues that they may face. Startup funding can be a challenging process for any small business owner, however, the reward of receiving enough funding means that you can build your dream and launch your business, making it all worth it.
One strategic way to receive funding as a female entrepreneur is to apply for small business grants. A grant is money that is given to a person or business from the government or private businesses or corporations. Grants do not require repayment of any kind.
The 10 Best Business Grants for Women
There are plenty of small business grants for women that may allow you to receive funding and get your business started. Here are the top 10 small business grants for women starting a business.
Grants.gov: This is a federally sponsored grant database, which includes grants for small businesses. It was established in 2002 as part of the President's Management Agenda and the website centralizes more than 1,000 different grant programs. To apply, you’ll need to visit the website and check out the section on grant applicants to see if you are eligible. You may need to sort through different options to find those that are the most relevant to your small business.
GrantsForWomen.org: This is a comprehensive resource of grants for women. They have a directory that lists all the organizations and foundations (in alphabetical order) that offer grant funding to women, which makes it easy for you to browse and find the best opportunity to apply to. The site provides a quick overview of each opportunity, a link for direct access and the amount of funding offered for each grant.
Amber Grant Foundation: WomensNet founded the Amber Grant Foundation in 1998 to honor the memory of Amber Wigdahl, who died at just 19 years old before realizing her business dreams. Today, WomensNet gives away $10,000 every month in Amber Grant money. Each of those monthly winners is then eligible for their year-end grant of $25,000. In order to apply, you simply need to fill out the application and tell the foundation about yourself and your business dream.
FedEx Small Business Grant: The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is a grant program by FedEx to award U.S.-based small businesses with grants to help them grow and scale their business. In 2020, over $250,000 was awarded to 12 businesses. This grant may be good to put in your back pocket once your business is up and running: to be eligible, you must operate a for-profit business with fewer than 99 employees and have at least six months of operating history.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA works with different organizations to provide federal grants and funding for certain small businesses, such as scientific research and development, technology and export development. It also offers Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program grants to women veterans and military spouses.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW): The AAUW is a funder of women's graduate education. This nonprofit offers Community Action Grants for one- or two-year community-based projects. Even though these grants are focused on education vs. general business ownership, if your business idea contains any activities or programs that “promote education and equity through projects focused on encouraging girls to select, before entering college, the physical sciences or engineering as a career,” you can apply.
37 Angels: A group of female investors came together to create 37 Angels, an angel investment group. 37 Angels grants come with an accelerator program to bring your entire business to the next level. They invest in 10 high-potential male and female-led startups each year, filtered from 2,500 that apply each year.
Open Meadows Foundation: Open Meadows is an organization that provides grants for women-backed projects that promote gender, racial and economic justice. They offer grants under $2,000 to projects that are designed and implemented by women and girls, reflect the diversity of the community served by the project in both its leadership and organization and have limited financial access.
The Red Backpack Fund: The Red Backpack Fund is backed by Sara Blakely who founded Spanx. Her foundation has been dedicated to elevating and supporting women through entrepreneurship. The foundation donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19 and has teamed up with GlobalGiving to establish The Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving is providing at least 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate the impact of the crisis.
Idea Cafe: Founded in 1995, Idea Cafe is a website that seeks to provide entrepreneurs with information on how to start and run a business. The company offers several $1,000 business grants. Potential new business owners don't need a solidified business plan in place; they simply need to sign up on the website to apply.
As you're getting started on your road to entrepreneurship, consider partnering with Incfile to form an LLC. We have helped over 250,000 new business owners get up and running. We serve as a one-stop-shop to guide you along the process of beginning your new venture, and we would love to assist you with achieving your dream.
Lisa Crocco is a marketer for an international food manufacturer by day and a freelance writer/marketer for startups and small businesses by night. She's written for outlets like USA Today College, Career Contessa, CloudPeeps and Fairygodboss.