10 grants for women entrepreneurs

Not yet ready for VC? How about another kind of relatively free money?

We all know the news: VC is difficult to get and can be costly. It’s also a currently shrinking resource. In any case, we know that VC is harder to for women to land, simply because they’re women.

Or maybe you’re simply not ready for the big guns yet and only need a little umph to push you to the next level of scale-up for your startup.

VC (or your own wallet) are not the only resources you have. You know this of course, but maybe you don’t know what else is out there exactly.

Here are some resources for you to start with. With a little research, some time, and some administrative elbow grease, you just might write your way into help for your promising business.

Grants Specifically for Women

  1. Eileen Fisher Woman-Owned Business Grant

Instilling confidence in women entrepreneurs is a personal passion for company founder Eileen Fisher. “I know how important it is to have someone believe in and validate your work,” says Eileen. “I want to encourage women entrepreneurs, especially those who firmly believe that business can be used to create social and environmental change.”

Cash: $10K-$120K

Recipients: 10/year

Application open: April-May

Awarded: November

Eligibility: Woman-owned or majority woman-owned; three years already in business; able to provide financials not exceeding $1m in revenue; business founded on creating social and environmental change.

  1. InnovateHer (Small Business Association + Microsoft)

Awards just finished for the 2016 version of this grant, so keep watching this space for next year’s competition.

Cash: $70K total

Applications: Aug-Dec (locally)

Eligibility: product or service has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families; has potential for commercialization; fills a need in the marketplace

  1. Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence

This organization has several categories with different eligibilities, including a grant specifically for female veterans, or the spouses/domestic partners/daughters of veterans, and another for women in Los Angeles, Detroit, Brooklyn, and regions of North Carolina.

  1. Smart Women Grants

Cash: $3000

Recipients: 6

Applications: July 11

Eligibility: Utah or Idaho-based; women-owned; promotes the empowerment of women or directly benefits women or low-income or underserved populations

  1. Amber Grant

The Amber Grants began in 1998. It was launched by Womensnet to honor the memory of a young woman (Amber) who died at the age of 19 – unable to fulfill her entrepreneurial dreams. Today the Amber Grant helps women like you achieve the dreams that Amber could not.

Cash: $500-$1500

Recipients: 12 (one a month)

Application: Monthly

Eligibility: female; need some money to begin your business; can write “your story.”

Notes: has a space to indicate your interest in an angel investor through their network; there is a $7 application fee.

Other Grants

Grants that women can apply for, but which aren’t specifically for women-owned businesses are also available: here are a few of those.

  1. The SBA, particularly the STTR
  1. Idea Café
  1. FedEx Small Business Grants
  1. The SBIR Seed Fund
  1. Mission Main Street

If you’re running a nonprofit, you might find that Wal-mart has a grant for you here.


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