Note: This article is intended for a US audience. There are also versions of it for Canadian and British audiences on this site.
Let’s assume that you want to start a business, and happen to be a woman – you can get a grant for realizing this dream, assuming you follow the right processes and apply to the right sources. Women entrepreneurs face a number of difficulties in starting their own business, such as a lack of information and a lack of female mentors. This is in addition to the fact that very few women-run businesses have managed to get federal contracts, and the more obvious problem of a deficiency of start-up capital. But there are several statistics in favor of women entrepreneurs – companies run by women tend to create jobs much faster than the national average, and women also create companies at a higher rate. Considering the difficulties in starting a business, as well as in raising sufficient capital, there are a number of grants available to women entrepreneurs. Some of them are available to all women, some are specifically for minorities, some for certain fields of business. But keep in mind that you can apply for and receive multiple grants. You just have to know the process, have a relevant application, and have a working business plan. Starting a business is never that easy, but there are tools which you can use to your advantage to make your life a bit easier.
One valuable resource for starting any business is the US Small Business Administration (SBA), which can assist in getting grants and loans for entrepreneurs. While the SBA does not directly lend or give money, it will guarantee loans through certain providers, and can be of help in finding various grants. As a woman entrepreneur, you can apply through the Women’s Business Center, as there are a number of WBC offices spread across the country.
In addition to the resources offered by the SBA and WBC, there are also grants given by the Amber Foundation, usually for amounts between $500 and $1000, exclusively for women. There are also Count-Me-In grants for women who want to make a million-dollar enterprise, available for up to $10,000. The Women’s Funding Network also gives women funding to start and maintain their businesses, and there are a number of other grants available for women in the fields of science and higher-education. Do your research, as there are plenty of opportunities to get funding for starting your own business as a woman.
Writing Grant Proposals
In order to get a grant, you must demonstrate exactly why you need it. Presumably, you’ve already come up with a business plan, but that on its own is not enough to get you a grant, and thus you embark on the semi-painful process of applying for a grant. But first, you need to find out what grants are available to you, and it is quite possible that you would be eligible for more than one. If you’re also part of a minority group, and your business will engage in some sort of research, then there’s a good chance you’ll get a lot of different options. To check and see what grants you could be eligible for, go to grants.gov for government grants, and srainternational.com for private funding sources. In addition to these options, there are also grants available at the state level, but these vary from state to state.
You should look into exactly what requirements each grant has in terms of documents and qualifying factors, and apply on this basis. Be very thorough in the manner that you go about this, ensuring that you are qualified to apply for each grant, and of course completing a separate application for every grant that you apply for. It’s important to specifically target each organization offering funding, with your proposal outlining what exactly you plan to do with the money as well as how you are qualified to receive such funding.
After Getting the Grant
Let’s assume you actually end up with the grants you’ve applied for – now what? Ensure that you spend those funds as intended, in case you ever get audited. And if you still need money to expand your business after starting up, there are additional grants available for that. The application process for those is much the same.