Key takeaways

  • Female entrepreneurs often face more challenges than male entrepreneurs when accessing business funding
  • Grants specifically targeting businesses owned by women can provide valuable funding
  • State and local agencies can be another source of funding and grants for women-owned businesses

The 2024 Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Businesses notes there are 14 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., making up 39.1 percent of all U.S. businesses, generating $2.7 trillion and employing 12.2 million people.

Despite their many contributions, female entrepreneurs still face more hurdles compared to male entrepreneurs when it comes to accessing funding.

Business grants present an opportunity to level the playing field. And with many agencies, corporations and organizations creating grants specifically for women entrepreneurs, they can get the financial support necessary for their businesses to thrive.

Bankrate insight
According to the 2022 Small Business Credit Survey, 44 percent of women-owned businesses reported revenue increases in the previous 12 months. Additionally, 43 percent of women-owned businesses believed their revenue would improve in the next 12 months.

Here’s a look at 17 small business grants for women and additional resources to help you start or grow your business.

Federal small business grants for women

This site is a database of federal grants. You can narrow your search by those available to small businesses. Keep an eye out for grants from the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program, two SBA programs. While results are not exclusively for women-owned enterprises, this can be a great starting point to cast a wide net and see what is available. To apply, your business must meet size standards established by the SBA.

Private small business grants for women

If you’re looking to apply for a grant, private organizations are often the most direct way to acquire funding. Privately funded grants are sponsored by foundations, companies, and private individuals, and many seek women as applicants. Here are some of the small business grants for women available through private organizations.

1. Amber grants

These monthly awards are named for entrepreneur Amber Wigdahl, who passed away at age 19 before realizing her business dreams. Amber grants include monthly $10,000 prizes, with two $25,000 end-of-year awards given to previous monthly winners.

  • Applicants for Amber grants must complete an application outlining their business and goals. The $15 application fee may be paid using a credit card or PayPal account. An advisory board selects award recipients. Applicants are automatically eligible for other grants administered by WomensNet.

2. IFundWomen Grant

IFundWomen is an online marketplace where women entrepreneurs can seek funding for their businesses. The database includes multiple grant opportunities with varying criteria, funding amounts and deadlines. Using the business’s information and partner’s grant criteria, the system determines which grants a business is eligible for and sends a notification to the business owner.

  • The Universal Grant Application is always open. When grants become available, you will be notified if your business matches the funding organization’s criteria.

3. National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)

NASE grants are available to all small business owners, not just women. Applicants must be members of this organization in good standing. The Growth Grants awarded range up to $4,000 per business. Grants cannot be used to pay debts, rent or mortgages; recipients should document how they use the funds.

  • Applicants must provide a business plan and a statement of grant use. Members may apply online after logging in on the NASE website. Grant applications are reviewed quarterly, depending on when the application is received. Applications received in: 
    • January through March will be reviewed in April
    • April through June will be reviewed in July
    • July through September will be reviewed in October
    • October through December will be reviewed in January 

4. Freed Fellowship Grant

Freed Fellowship offers the chance for applicants to get $500 in funding alongside free mentorship as well as entrance into a $2,500 end-of-year giveaway. The organizer will review your application and choose recipients that adeptly describe their business’s unique selling point in the market as well as how it generates revenue.

Award recipients also get a one-year free membership to the Freed Studio, a community of small businesses that encourage each other in their processes and strategies.

  • Both men and women are eligible to apply for the grant, which awards business owners monthly. You can enter through its online application by answering questions about your business.

5. HerRise Micro-Grant

The HerRise Micro-Grant is offered by the Yva Jourdan Foundation, a HerSuiteSpot non-profit. Through this organization, donors and sponsors contribute money to women of color entrepreneurs needing capital, coaching and community. Every month, a $1,000 micro-grant is awarded to one female business owner of color. Past recipients have used grants to purchase business equipment, marketing, website creation and more.

  • To apply, complete the application by the last day of the month. You’ll also need to submit your business plan and pitch.

6. She’s Connected by AT&T

She’s Connected by AT&T is a community for women-owned businesses. The platform offers one winner a $50,000 grant, a year of AT&T service, a new device and a feature in an episode of She’s Connected by AT&T. The #She’s Connected series highlights women in sports and business to increase visibility and drive gender equality. To be eligible for the grant, businesses must be women-owned (either solely or a majority), have less than 50 employees and be registered in the U.S.

  • You can apply online for the grant. Applications are open until July 10, 2024. The application process involves two essays detailing the mission of your business and how it embodies AT&T’s values.

7. Galaxy Grant

The Galaxy Grant is a program launched by the nonprofit Hidden Star. The program’s focus is to ensure the success of women or minority entrepreneurs by awarding the winner a $3,750 grant. When referring a friend, your chances of winning are doubled since you also win if your friend wins.

  • The Galaxy Grant is currently accepting applications until June 30, 2024. You can enter by filling out its online entry form.

8. The Halstead Grant

The Halstead Grant is available to designers making silver jewelry, awarding one outstanding recipient each year. The grant is designed to boost jewelry makers’ career trajectories. The grand prize winner receives $7,500 in grant funding, and they get featured on The Halstead Grant website. All finalists receive a cash award as well as a Halstead gift card.

  • Applicants will answer questions about their business in The Halstead Grant’s online application. Applications are accepted at any time, with the final deadline for that year’s award landing on May 1.

9. Cartier Women’s Initiative

Women selected to receive a regional award from Cartier Women’s Initiative can see large-dollar capital funding of up to $100,000 and enjoy other kinds of support, including media exposure, access to an exclusive network of other women entrepreneurs and intensive training programs.

To be eligible, businesses must be owned by women, for-profit in nature, generating revenue and in early-stage development (years one to six of operations). Other eligibility criteria are listed here.

  • Applicants submit a resume, pitch deck, business registration document and a one-minute video. Women are selected annually from nine regions worldwide to participate in the Cartier Women’s Initiative fellowship program. Awards are made in spring. Applications for the 2024 awards are now closed.

10. Women of Color Grant Program

The Tory Burch Foundation offers capital funding for small businesses, including in partnership with the Fearless Fund for Black women small business owners. Up to 75 grants are awarded annually with the Fearless Fund and range from $10,000 to $20,000. To qualify, businesses should be one to five years old and generate at least $100,000 in annual revenue.

  • Capital programs for women entrepreneurs are available online, with details and a “funding finder” tool available on the foundation’s website. Fearless Fund applications for 2023 are closed, so check back in 2024.

11. Enthuse Foundation

Designed to support women entrepreneurs in the food, beverage or CPG industry, the Enthuse Foundation awards $2,500 grants to ten businesses. To be eligible, entrepreneurs must identify as a woman and have an established business. It also must be their full-time job.

  • To apply, you’ll need to demonstrate financial need and submit written answers. An interview is also part of the process. The winners for 2024 will be announced in June. The next grant cycle for 2025 has yet to be announced.

12. Fearless Strivers Grant

In collaboration with Mastercard, the Fearless Fund created the Fearless Strivers Grant to improve access to venture capital funding for small businesses. Four black women-owned small businesses will each receive a $20,000 grant, as well as digital tools and mentorship to encourage the growth of their business. Businesses with annual revenue of $3 million or less are eligible to apply.

  • Applications are accepted online during four separate entry periods, with one winner selected for each period. The current application period opened on August 1, 2023, and the closing date has not been announced.

13. High Five Grant for Moms

The Mama Ladder, in partnership with Proof, Belly Bandit and Caden Concepts, launched the High Five Grant for Moms in 2018. The goal was to create an opportunity for women business owners who are caregivers, including stepmoms, first-time expecting moms and foster moms, to secure funding to grow and expand their businesses. To date, $32,000 has been awarded, and an additional $40,000 in grants will be awarded this year. Eight small businesses will be selected, and the public will vote on the top three winners, who will receive a $10,000, $5,000 or $2,500 grant.

  • Applications can be completed online via The Mama Ladder website. Currently, applications are closed for 2023, so check back in 2024 to see when the organizer is accepting new applications. 

14. Backing the B.A.R. Grant

In an effort to support Black-owned businesses operating in the hospitality, sales and beverage alcohol service industries, the NAACP and Bacardi are offering the Backing the B.A.R. Grant. To date, this initiative has awarded more than $350,000 in grants, support, education, support and entrepreneurship solutions. Black female owners of bars, lounges, restaurants, liquor stores and nightclubs receive a $10,000 grant, mentorship and educational support to help them grow their businesses. To be eligible, businesses must be at least 51 percent Black-owned and currently have or be seeking a liquor license.

  • The 2024 application closes on May 24. A Hello Alice account is needed to apply.

15. Comcast Rise Grant

The Comcast Rise Grant is part of an initiative launched by Comcast to support the growth of small businesses focused on diversity, inclusion and community investment by awarding 500 grants, each totaling $5,000, to 100 businesses in five cities. Winners also receive business consultative services and mentoring, educational resources, creative media services and a technology makeover. Businesses must have been in operation for at least three years and have no more than 100 part-time or full-time employees. Note that certain types of businesses are ineligible, including nonprofits and tobacco/vape retailers or manufacturers.

  • The 2024 application period opens on May 1. Small businesses in Atlanta, Houston, Jacksonville, Richmond and Southern Colorado will be eligible to apply.

16. Beyond Open Small Business Grant

The Beyond Open Small Business Grant provides capital to businesses owned by a woman, minority, veteran, LGBTQ+ individual or persons with a disability that is located within Charlotte’s Corridors of Opportunity. Administered by FFTC Partners for Empowering Communities (FPEC) and supported by the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund, this specific program has the goal of awarding a total of $15 million in grants, $5 million per round, with Round 2 winners receiving between $10,000 to $150,000 per grant. Funds can be used to cover the cost of inventory, real estate, equipment and technology, but they cannot be used to cover the business’s operational expenses.

  • Round 2’s application period closed in August 2023. Applications for Round 3 are set to open in 2024. You can sign up to be notified when the application opens.

17. Fund Her Future Grant

Fund Her Future is created by Block Advisors by H&R Block. The grant is a part of H&R Block’s commitment to support 500,000 U.S. small businesses by 2025. The grant program aims to help support and empower women-owned businesses, especially those focusing on making a difference in their community, as access to funding and resources is a challenge many face. One winner will receive a small business grant of $50,000, with four additional winners receiving $12,500 each. Along with the grant money, winners will receive a year of services from Block Advisors, including small business taxes, bookkeeping, payroll and business structure analysis.

  • To apply, businesses need to be at least 51 percent female-owned, and owners must be at least 18 years old and living in the U.S. The business also must plan to continue operating for at least a year following a grant award. You can apply online and applications are open now until May 26, 2024. Winners will be notified by June 30, 2024.

Bankrate insight

Check back often for new and updated grant opportunities. And for more information on grants for underserved communities, check out the following guides:


Additional resources for women

Because the federal grant application process is so competitive, you may find applying for funds through state and local agencies to be more approachable.

1. State chambers of commerce

Your state chamber of commerce likely has grant funding opportunities available and may even earmark some of these funds for minority business owners, including women. In addition, these organizations are interested in growing local businesses, so building a relationship with them is a good way to explore other funding opportunities.

  • To begin looking at these opportunities, connect first with your state or metropolitan area’s chamber office. Inquire about grant funding for women small business owners in your area.

2. Women’s Business Centers

The SBA supports more than 100 Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) nationwide. These community organizations exist to help women develop and grow small businesses. Because women continue to face unique challenges when securing small business funding, these centers provide counseling, business training, federal contacts and more.

  • Your nearest WBC can connect you with local opportunities best suited to your business. To search for a center closest to your zip code, visit the SBA location finder and narrow your search to Women’s Business Centers.


SCORE is a nonprofit organization and SBA partner that provides education and mentoring to small business owners. Business owners can participate in free training and workshops focused on the many aspects of owning a small business. They can also match with a mentor who will guide them on their journey through entrepreneurship.

4. CDFIs

Community Development Financial Institutions are focused on promoting economic development in underserved communities. The CDFI designation is provided following the receipt of a certificate from the CDFI Fund, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Since CDFIs offer products and services to business owners who may not be approved for funding through traditional financial institutions, many business owners in low-income communities can get the funding they need to cover their business expenses. This includes:

Alternatives to small business grants

Grants are a competitive funding option, so not every small business that applies will be awarded funds. Luckily, there are alternatives you can consider. Although they require repayment, funds are guaranteed if you qualify and are approved.

  • Business loans: Business loans are available through banks, credit unions and online lenders and offer funding of up to $5 million for a variety of purposes, including growth and expansion or the purchase of inventory, equipment or real estate. With this option, businesses can establish and build credit, but the available loan amounts, interest rates and fees are determined by lenders, so the overall cost will vary.
  • Business credit cards: Small business credit cards function similarly to personal credit cards, allowing businesses to make purchases, track expenses and build credit. Businesses can spend up to the limit and pay off the balance in full to avoid paying interest. Most cards offer rewards and perks, but interest rates can be high with this funding option, and a personal guarantee may be required from the business owner.
  • Business lines of credit: By providing a predetermined amount of funds that a business can access as needed, business lines of credit help businesses better manage daily expenses. It operates like a revolving credit account, allowing businesses to borrow, repay and reuse funds. With interest-only payments and lower interest rates compared to credit cards, businesses can keep borrowing costs low.
  • Microloans: Microloans, often available through the SBA and nonprofit organizations, provide small-scale funding to businesses. These loans typically range from $500 to $50,000 and can be used to start or expand a business or cover various expenses.

Bottom line

Small business grants are a powerful tool for business owners looking to grow and expand without the added stress of paying funds back with interest. If you can wait for funding and have a compelling business model or story, grant funding can be a great way to get operations off the ground.

Once you have chosen a grant, understand the eligibility requirements before applying. These funds often come with specific rules and qualifications.

Frequently asked questions

  • Grants for women-owned businesses offer one avenue for female entrepreneurs to obtain funding. Other ways female entrepreneurs can seek funding include business loans, lines of credit and microloans.
  • Every small business grant has its own requirements, which the funding organization determines. Some organizations may only require an application, while others may require an application, interview and presentation.
  • Disadvantages of grants include limited availability and intense competition. Additionally, grants do not help build business credit and may not cover the full funding needs.