Small business grants are “free money” given to small businesses by a company, a philanthropist, or the government. Unlike business loans, you don’t have to pay the grant back; they’re purely given to small businesses in need of a financial boost.
The thought of receiving free money is definitely appealing, but in reality, it’s quite challenging to qualify for a small business grant. The competition is fierce, and only a few people actually end up winning a small business grant. Some grants are open to all business owners, and others cater to women, veterans, and minorities.
However, you’ll have a higher chance of qualifying for a grant if you put your best foot forward –keep track of the opportunities available, do your research, and understand the needs of your business.
In this article, we’ll learn about small business grants for women, veterans, and minorities.
1. Small Business Grants for Women
According to Biz2Credit’s annual Women-Owned Businesses Study 2020, the number of women-owned businesses that applied for funding increased slightly, but the average loan amounts went down from $48,341 to $40,513 in 2019. As a result, small business grants for women are more prevalent than ever. You can find grants both at the government level as well as the corporate or foundation levels.
One of the most popular foundation grants isthe Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program and Amber Grant. The amounts and timeframes for these grants vary. For example, Amber Grant awards $10,000 to one woman business owner each month. One woman will also be awarded another $25,000 by the end of the year. On the other hand, the Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program awards $40,000 per recipient each year.
Women entrepreneurs can also apply for government grants. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several programs that provide businesswomen with the funding necessary for their business initiatives. You can check out SBA’s grants page for more information about grants your business might qualify for.
2. Small Business Grants for Veterans
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a program called Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) (formerly known as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment). This program helps veterans with job training, resume development, employment accommodations, and job-seeking skills coaching. VR&E also offers assistance to veterans and service members who want to start their own business.Veterans who experienced a service-connected disability that has caused employment barriers are eligible. Applicants may also require applicants to receive a disability rating.
Hivers and Stivers is an angel investment group that provides funding to startups founded by the graduates of U.S. Military Academies. They often invest between $250,000 to $1,000,000 in a single funding. You can apply for grants from Hivers and Strivers by filling out an online application you can find on their website.
Warrior Rising Small Business Grants is another nonprofit organization committed to supporting veterans who want to start a business. They provide training, workshops, and grants to cover the costs of starting a business. To become a member, you’ll need to participate in a scheduled phone interview and complete an online course. Once completed, you’ll be able to receive mentorship and assistance when it comes to grant opportunities.
3. Small Business Grants for Minorities
Businesses owned by minorities have financial resources available to them. For example, the Small Business Administration offers the 8a Business Development Program. The SBA aims to level the playing field for businesses owned by economically disadvantaged people. To qualify for the 8(a) program qualifications, follow this checklist:
- A small business that hasn’t participated in the 8(a) program
- Have a maximum personal net worth of $750,000, with an adjusted gross income of $350,000 or less and a maximum of $6 million in assets
- The business should be owned and controlled (at least 51%) by U.S. citizens who are socially and economically disadvantaged
- Demonstrate good character and the ability to perform on contracts
Another grant for minorities is the Tribal Energy Development Capacity Grant Program. This grant specifically available for federally acknowledge tribal organizations, Tribal Energy Development Programs, and Alaska Native Villages. The U.S. Department of Interior administers the grant program to provide moneyto maximize the economic impact of energy resource development on Native American land.
Lastly, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) provides grants to organizations that run Minority Business Centers in the U.S. Through these centers, small business consultations, financial assistance for minority-owned businesses, and procurement matching. The MBDA also runs a grant competition program. You can check out the grants they offer on MBDA’s website.
The Bottom Line
Getting small business grants for women, minorities, and veterans may seem far-fetched, but it helps to do your research. You might be tempted to apply for as many funding sources as possible to qualify for a few. However, it’s best to focus on the funding initiatives that complement your business model and goals.