Dream Big: 14 Grants for Women Entrepreneurs

Here are 14 grants specifically earmarked for women entrepreneurs.

Your how-to guide for grants for women entrepreneurs

Getting a grant is a serious commitment of your time–but then again, if you fit the grant’s mission, it’s likely well worth it.

Here’s the general lay of the land to jumpstart your research.

Federal grants for women entrepreneurs

To our knowledge, there are no specific federal grants for female founders. However,  there are terrific Federal grants for tech companies, medical, healthcare, gene therapy and science research. National Science Foundation and SBIR should be top of your list. National Science Funding around healthcare technologies just got a huge windfall, so there are a lot of grants to apply for. While it may not be the main line of your business, if you are doing research in this area, it’s worth a look.

Another great resource to use in your research is the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The MBDA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that assists minorities and women in establishing and growing their businesses. On its site, you can research grants and access links to state agencies that work with women-owned businesses for funding opportunities. Click here to view all of the state agencies across the country.

State grants for women entrepreneurs

Each state website has a business section where you can find grant and funding opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses. A good example of this is the business section for the state of New York, which lists incentives and programs for businesses. So do Ohio and New York. Best practice is to check out your state.

Specific grants for women entrepreneurs

There are a few grants that are earmarked for women or women and minorities from private foundations.

    • The Startup Runway Foundation in Atlanta grants $5000 to $10,000 checks–no strings attached–to women and minority-run tech companies with their first few customers. Apply here. It takes less than 15 minutes.
    • The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program awards five grants per year. of $20K-25K. The businesses must be 100 percent women-owned and have founding principles of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation, plus be ready to move to the next phase of development. In 2014, the program awarded $125,000 in total.
    • Huggies Brand — Mom Inspired Grants: The grant awards up to $15,000 to advance the development of innovative products inspired by the joys of motherhood. The awardees also receive resources to further develop their products and startup businesses.
    • FedEx Think Bigger — Small Business Grant Program: Applicants are encouraged to share their visions to receive a portion of the $75,000 awarded in grants. Part of the judging involves the general public voting for the finalists, so participants may promote their businesses while garnering votes.
    • Idea Café Small Business Grant: The Idea Café is a free gateway that hosts different grants on its site. Its current grant is the 16th Small Business Cash Grant, which awards one $1,000 grand prize to a business with the most innovative idea.Please register to see content protected for register members of FemaleEntrepreneurs. 
  • Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corp (WVEC) Small Business Competition: This competition, organized by Capitol One and Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, allows participants to present two-minute pitches for a chance to participate in a nine-month business accelerator program.
  • Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEE): As part of a huge Wal-Mart initiative, sourcing opportunities for U.S. and international companies will increase to $40 billion over five years.
  • Zions Bank — Smart Women Smart Money: This Utah-based bank’s grant annually awards $3,000 across six different categories, including business.
  • The TechStars Foundation awards cash grants to organizations (usually nonprofit) who are increasing diversity in tech. The program is in development and you can learn more about it on their site.
  • CoLabs, a project from Gray Matters Capital out of Atlanta, has earmarked $1 million in grant money for women entrepreneurs whose businesses have social impact, particularly for women and girls in rural areas of the world.  Anna Cable, Innovation and Business Development Lead, shares, “We have given ourselves $1 million over the next 12 months to move the needle on critical social issues for women. We will consider any sector, any geography; but, we want an uncompromising focus on the most vital issues that affect women around the world. We want to push ourselves, and our entrepreneurs, to really break the boundaries of existing impact investing models.” Apply here.

    Have you won a grant in the last couple years for your woman-led business?

    Please share your story here on FemaleEntrepreneurs.

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