Women-owned business grants are a great option for female entrepreneurs in need of start-up capital to expand their small businesses.

Grants for women-owned businesses build the economy and combat gender inequality

In 2016, there were an estimated 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States — a 45 percent increase since 2007 (5x the national average of business growth), according to a 2016 report from American Express.

It can be difficult enough for any startup company to become profitable, but data has shown that small businesses led by women are at a disadvantage. The loan market suggests that female entrepreneurs are 5 percent less likely to receive a business loan. On average, women who secure a loan also receive a smaller loan size than their male counterparts, leaving women struggling to obtain credit.

Fortunately, there are many corporations (local and national) who acknowledge women disadvantages and have attempted to level the playing field with these 15 small business grants for women.

  • The Eileen-Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant — Eileen-Fisher awards five woman-owned companies that promote social and environmental change with grants up to $120,000. Businesses must have existed for at least three years, and cannot have earned more than $1 million in annual profits.
  • InnovateHER Grant — is a women-only grant sponsored by the Small Business Administration. This allows budding entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to audiences and a panel of judges. The national winner receives a $75,000 grant to transform her ideas into profitable products or services.
  • Amber Grants — designed for female entrepreneurs who are planning to launch small, local businesses. Each month, one female-owned business is selected for a $500 grant. At the end of the year, one of the monthly winners is selected for a $2,000 grant.
  • Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corp Small Business Competition — the WVEC is a small business competition for women who present a two-minute presentation about an innovative business idea. Winners gain access to an eight-month business training course.
  • Smart Women Smart Money — Utah’s Zion Bank offers a grant competition for women in search of capital for their business ventures. The winner of this competition receives a $3,000 grant to invest in her business.
  • Mom Inspired Grants — the Huggies Corporation offers grants to women who create products and who are “inspired by the joys of motherhood.” Twelve mothers are awarded $15,000 grants each year.
  • Open Meadows Foundation Grant — awards granted to women on a biannual basis, up to $2,000. To qualify for this grant, a company must promote racial, gender or economic equality. Only companies with an operational budget under $75,000 qualify.
  • 37 Angels — recognizes the disadvantages that female entrepreneurs face in the loan market. To help women keep their companies afloat, 37 Angels offers grants as large as $150,000.
  • Belle Capital Grants — offered to companies led by women. The sizes of the grants vary, and winners can also gain access to an angel investment fund to launch or expand their business.

Securing a small business grant can be competitive and time-consuming. First, you have to research and find grants for which you’re eligible. Then, it’s important to understand the restrictive application and compliance guidelines applicants must meet. This can often be a lengthy, arduous applications process that requires time and energy to compete with other businesses for the same pot of money. Finally, if you’re awarded a grant, you are required to report on how you used it.