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For women entrepreneurs, women’s small business grants are one prospective funding option for beginning or expanding a business. These grants are offered by public and private institutions equally, indicating many opportunities are out there. However, since there’s no one place to search for them, this also means that information about women’s small business grants can be a bit difficult to track down.

Here’s everything you need to know about obtaining a women’s small business grant: what they are, who is eligible, how to apply, what documentation you might need, some recommendations for the application process, and where to start the search for grant funding.

What Is a Women’s Small Business Grant?

A women’s small business bursary is a form of business capital for women entrepreneurs. Unlike a loan, a grant is more like a financial gift to a business from the grantor or granting organization.

It’s essential to observe the following about grant funding:

  • Grants are generally deemed to be a form of taxable business income by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

  • Grant money does not generally need to be paid back unless the terms of the grant are violated for some reason.

  • Competition for grant funding tends to be intense, as many people apply for these opportunities.

  • Grants are usually established for a specific purpose, so they usually have detailed and specific eligibility criteria to ensure the funding is used as intended.

Who Is Eligible for Women’s Small Business Grants?

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Women’s small business grants are intended to support women entrepreneurs in attaining their business objectives. Because grant funding is offered by a diverse range of private and public institutions and organizations, the purpose and eligibility of each specific grant will vary.

The eligibility criteria for a particular grant might include considerations such as:

  • Nature and scale of the business (e.g., industry and number of employees)

  • Intention of the grant funding (e.g., to support women innovators in the food and beverage industry)

  • Annual revenue of the business (e.g., under $2 million)

  • Age of the business proprietor or applicant (e.g., over 21 years of age)

  • Age of the business (e.g., been in operation from one to five years)

  • Identity of the owner, founder, or personnel (e.g., plurality of employees self-identify as women)

  • Residency status and registered business location (e.g., U.S.-based)

Application Process for Women’s Small Business Grants

The application process for a women’s small business grant will vary according to the opportunity, but in general, it might include the following:

  • Registration or information provision: The applicant might create an account or fill out details about themselves and/or their business to confirm eligibility. (Government grants in particular may require a specific registration step with the agency offering the grant.)

  • Grant selection: In circumstances where an organization has a range of grants to choose from, the applicant selects the grant or grants they desire to apply for.

  • Application: The business proprietor submits their required documentation for the grant.

  • Review: The grantor evaluates all applications and confirms the results to all applicants.

  • Required Documentation for a Women’s Small Business Grant Application

  • Since there are a wide range of grants available to fund women-owned small businesses, the documents required for the application will depend on the specifics of the grant opportunity.

Generally, women’s small business grant applications will require the following documents as part of the application:

  • Information about the applicant and/or their business

  • Personal and/or business identification numbers or other official documents

  • Financial documents

  • Application documents

  • A comprehensive abstract, mission plan, or proposal

  • A budget detailing how the grant funding will be used

  • The applicant’s CV or resume

  • Professional or personal references

Tips for a Successful Women’s Small Business Grant Application

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To have the highest chance of success in procuring grant funding, setting aside adequate time to write the proposal, as well as accumulating all the required information ahead of time, are advisable before making any application.

Grant opportunities are often highly competitive, so applicants should ensure that they satisfy all of the eligibility criteria as well as be highly specific on all the details of what the funding will be used for. Since grantors assess a high volume of proposals, it’s necessary for the application to be both plain and concise.7

Many organizations offer grant-writing assistance and resources, some even around their own grant opportunity. It’s always a good idea to check if the grantor will be organizing any seminars or webinars related to the grant and to attend these sessions if feasible, to gather further information about the application process. Grantors may also offer previous examples of successful grant applications for applicants’ reference.

Some grant opportunities are recurring. Keeping track of announcement dates and application deadlines and setting reminders for them can be useful prompts to dedicate time to applying for a particular opportunity.

Read Also: Understanding Small Business Taxes

Finding Potential Women’s Small Business Grant Sources

The following sources provide inventories of grant opportunities and/or resources around grant applications:

  • Grants is a comprehensive source for federal government grant opportunities and can be filtered by eligibility for “small businesses.”

  • IFundWomen maintains a ubiquitous grant application database that connects eligibility criteria with businesses, as well as lists grant opportunities on its site.

  • The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council offers programs and opportunities in support of women entrepreneurs, including grants.

  • The Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) provides resources on the topic of women’s entrepreneurship and publishes grant opportunities on its site.

  • Grants for Women provides information, opportunities, and application advice for a range of grant types for women.

  • Hello Alice is a free online platform that seeks to assist small enterprises in launching and expanding. The site routinely lists grant and other unding opportunities.

  • The Amber Grant Foundation by WomensNet was founded in 1998 to memorialize the entrepreneurial spirit of Amber Wigdahl, and awards a variety of grants on a monthly and annual basis.

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What Is a Women’s Small Business Grant?

A women’s small business grant is a form of funding available to women entrepreneurs. Unlike a loan, a grant does not need to be paid back (unless the terms of the grant are violated).

What Is the Application Process for a Women’s Small Business Grant?

The application procedure for a women’s small business grant will depend on the specific opportunity, as each grant has a dedicated purpose and set of criteria. Generally, the application procedure might require taking a registration step, submitting a proposal, and/or completing out an application form for review. Grants offered by the government tend to have a more in-depth application process.

Who Is Eligible for a Women’s Small Business Grant?

Since women’s small business grants intend to support women-owned businesses, the eligibility criteria will likely necessitate verifying that the business is owned or managed by someone who identifies as a woman. There may be additional criteria, depending on the intention of the grant.

Does the Government Offer Grants for Women-Owned Businesses?

Yes, the government provides grant opportunities to support women in business at the local, state, and federal levels. However, it should be noted that the federal government only provides grants for the purposes of research and development, or management and technical assistance, but not for starting or growing a business.