Note: We have already written articles on getting a grant as a woman entrepreneur in the US and Canada, this one has been edited to be relevant for a UK audience, thus incorporating the resources available there.
Let’s assume that you want to start a business, and happen to be a woman – you can get a grant for realising 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 government 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 at a rate higher than the national average, and women create companies faster than the national average. 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.
Grants and Loans in the UK
Fortunately for women in the UK who want to start their own business, there are ample resources available. The government is well aware of the fact that more women entrepreneurs will do much to improve the British economy as a whole, and as a result there are certain laxities for women entrepreneurs to get business grants and loans. The exact nature of what resources are available to you vary from place to place, and there are more options available for women seeking to start businesses in areas where unemployment is high and in socially deprived areas. Larger businesses stand a better chance of getting business grants, but the eligibility for most women’s business grants is for businesses with less than 250 employees. In the UK, criteria for business grants are laid out by the European Commission, and thus your application has to be closely scrutinised by the Commission for eligibility. Grant providers have certain objectives in mind for giving out funds, and thus when considering eligibility for a grant, the proposal must meet their predefined objectives.
There are a number of different types of business grants available in Britain, and women applying for grants must see what criteria that they fit in order to make appropriate applications. Grants for Business Investment (GBI) are the most basic type of grant available, and are meant to cover things such as the business venue, tools, and equipment. These grants are for the capital investment needed to start a business, and have different local names – Grant for Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) in Scotland, Enterprise Northern Ireland Loan Fund (ENILF) in Northern Ireland. Do note that the rules and regulations differ as well. Research and development grants are for the promotion of innovations in this field, and a business becomes eligible for such a grant if a business is producing an innovative product which can benefit society, or endeavors to do so. Business solutions grants are for women who make suitable proposals for running for-profit businesses, and various aspects of running a business could make an entrepreneur eligible for such a grant. Grants can be given for starting up a business, finance management, the implementation of ideas, or skills and training development. If your business idea uses some sort of research and development, you could stand eligible for a shared knowledge grant. These businesses may partner with educational institutions to further research and development. If you are in England, you could be eligible for the Train to Gain program, which funds and implements the necessary training for your business to grow.
Applying for Grants
Once you’ve determined which grants you are eligible for, you need to go about applying for them. But be warned – no grant will cover costs completely, so you’ll have to ensure some investment on your own. You would also have to convince grant providers that you will use the funds only for your objectives stated in the proposal, and only for yourself – grant providers will regularly verify this. Once you’ve sorted all of this out, you need to go about the process of your proposal. You’ll need to write a detailed outline and description of your project so that grant providers can know if they want to give you the grant, and give a step-by-step plan with the necessary expenses. If you have relevant experience in the field that your applying for a grant in, it’s necessary to mention that, and you need to give a clear outline of how society will benefit from your project. Include a detailed business plan, fill out the application forms thoroughly, and you stand a good chance of getting a grant for your small business.