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- Grants can help Black female business owners bridge the funding gap
- Many grants are tailored to specifically help Black business owners and women business owners overcome racial biases
- Grants designed to help minority business owners overcome barriers are currently facing legal challenges
- Additional resources are available, including minority business loans and small business training programs
According to research done by the Harvard Business Review, Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. Despite this high startup rate, only three percent run mature businesses.
One reason may be the lack of financing. The same research showed that 61 percent of Black women self-fund their startup capital. This makes sense, as Black-owned businesses continue to be the group least likely to be fully approved for business loans, according to the Federal Reserve.
Business grants for Black women can help these entrepreneurs get the funding they need. Some grants are made especially for Black female business owners. Others are made for Black business owners, minorities, women or all business owners.
Here’s a look at some of the available grants for Black women.
1. SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
The SoGal Foundation has come together with various sponsors, including Walmart.org’s Center for Racial Equity, Winky Lux, Twilio, bluemercury, and twelveNYC, to create the SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant. This grant for U.S.-based Black women and nonbinary entrepreneurs awards $5,000 and $10,000 grants to help grow their businesses.
Black women or Black nonbinary entrepreneurs with a legally registered business, such as a limited liability company (LLC) are eligible. Owners must have plans to secure investor financing, a scalable, high-impact idea or solution and the ambition to potentially become the next billion-dollar business. Grant applications are rolling, so only one application needs to be submitted.
2. Backing the B.A.R. Grant
The Backing the B.A.R. Grant is part of the initiative launched by the NAACP and Bacardi to support to Black-owned businesses in the sales, hospitality and beverage alcohol service industries. This includes bars, lounges, restaurants, liquor stores and nightclubs. Businesses with a liquor license or plans to get a liquor license are eligible to receive a $10,000 grant as well as educational support and mentorship.
The application is currently open and runs until July 30, 2023. Business owners must have or be seeking a liquor license and will need a Hello Alice account to apply.
3. Publish Her Business Impact Grant
The Publish Her Business Impact Grant (BIG) has been operating since 2018 and has already issued $250,000 in grant proceeds. The program is currently running a contest for a $5,000 grant that will be awarded to a woman of color business owner. Eligible businesses have to be 100 percent woman-owned and demonstrate how they’re making a difference in the lives of others.
The grant application is available at the website and is open until August 31. If you get chosen as one of the 10 qualifiers, be ready to submit a two-minute video about your business. This video will be shown to the public as Publish Her collects votes to determine the grant winner.
4. Fearless Strivers Grant Contest
The Fearless Strivers Grant Contest specifically offers business grants for Black women. Winners will receive a $20,000 grant, plus mentorship and digital tools to help you grow your Black woman-owned company. You need to bring in under $3 million annually to be eligible, and the application says businesses with an annual revenue over $50,000 are strongly preferred.
This grant program has already run three application periods in 2023. The final one opens August 1 and ends August 31. You can access the application at the website linked above.
On September 30, 2023, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request by American Alliance for Equal Rights to temporarily block the Fearless Fund from considering applicants for its grant, stating it may violate the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which bars racial discrimination in contracting.
5. The Coalition to Back Black Businesses Grant
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses, which includes ADP, AIG Foundation, Altice USA American Express, Dow and the S&P Global Foundation, launched its grantmaking and mentoring initiative in 2020 with the goal of supporting Black business owners impacted by COVID. Several grants — including 14 for $25,000 each — have already been awarded as well as training and mentorship to Black-owned businesses with three to 20 employees in economically vulnerable or distressed communities.
Moving forward, grants will most likely total $5,000 each. The 2023 to 2024 cycle is likely to begin in August 2023 and run through September. To apply in the future, eligible businesses can complete a brief application online, which requires their business name, industry, zip code and contact information. If selected as a finalist, a full application must be completed.
6. BREAKTHROUGH Grant
The BREAKTHROUGH Grant is offered by digitalundivided’s BREAKTHROUGH Program, which is sponsored by JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways. This program offers grants for Black and Latina women founders based in New York.
To be eligible, businesses must be established for at least one year with a minimum annual business revenue of $50,000 and a website or mobile app. In addition to a $5,000 grant, winners will receive a business mentor, sessions with industry leaders and the Entrepreneur in Residence, access to digitalundivided’s community of Latina and Black women entrepreneurs and post-program support.
These business grants for Black women and Latinas are currently offered periodically to different geographies. Applications for BREAKTHROUGH Miami open on July 10. To get notified when that application becomes available, you can sign up on the BREAKTHROUGH website linked above.
7. HerRise Micro-Grant
The HerRise Micro-Grant was created by the Yva Jourdan Foundation, a HerSuiteSpot non-profit that raises money through donors and sponsors. Its goal is to offer community, coaching and capital to women of color who own businesses. Every month, a female business owner of color receives a $500 micro-grant, which will help them strengthen their business and fulfill their goals of positively impacting their communities.
The online application is currently open on the HerSuiteSpot website. Each round of applications closes on the last day of the month and winners get announced at the next HerSuiteSpot First Friday Mixer.
8. Fast Break Small Business Grant
The Fast Break Small Business Grant was created by LegalZoom, NBA, WNBA and NBA G League. It’s managed by Accion Opportunity Fund and helps support Black-owned small businesses. The program will give not just $3 million in business grants for Black women and other Black small business owners, but also $3 million in products and services. Each selected business receives a $10,000 grant and LegalZoom products and services, up to $500.
The application process is expected to reopen later this year during the WNBA season — which ends on September 11 — and will be open to small business owners across the U.S. Each eligible business owner can provide their name and email address on LegalZoom to be notified when the application period opens. And for eligibility requirements and a list of ineligible industries, head over to Accion Opportunity Fund’s website, which manages the application process.
9. The Catalyst Fund Grant
The goal of the Mastercard Strive program, which is operated by Hello Alice, is to close the Black wealth and opportunity gap by providing an online platform with access to financial tools and capital.
The program includes business grants for Black women. Specifically, it offers The Catalyst Fund Grant, which awards several $5,000 grants to help Black entrepreneurs based in Atlanta, Birmingham, Dayton, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. achieve their next business milestone.
The application period closed March 31, 2023. To date, Hello Alice has not released any information about future Catalyst Fund Grants. If these grants reopen and the criteria is the same, Black business owners with 51% or more equity in a for-profit businesses with one to 10 employees in the selected cities will be eligible for this grant.
10. Corporate Counsel Women of Color Entrepreneur Grant
The Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC) Entrepreneur Grant is currently offering $5,000 grants for Black women and other women of color who own businesses. If you get the grant, it gets paired with access to educational programs, mentorships with lawyers, networking opportunities and discounts with LegalZoom and Office Depot.
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and finalists will receive the award in September 2023. You can apply by filling out the simple form linked above.
11. Build Your Legacy Grant
Essence and Pine-Sol have partnered to offer the Build Your Legacy Grant. Every year, a vote is held to select one Black woman entrepreneur to receive the $100,000 grant and six months of business coaching.
Applications for 2023 have closed. Essense and Pine-Sol will collect votes to determine the winner of this grant through July 15, 2023. In the past, this contest has run from March to April, with a winner being announced by July. Check back on the website in early 2024 for more information about next year’s grant. For more information about grant eligibility and future application periods, sign up for Pine-Sol’s newsletter.
12. Invest in Progress Grant
The Invest in Progress Grant is available through The Boss Impact Fund, a program created by Boss Network and Sage that invests in Black women-owned businesses and provides resources to owners and founders looking to build and grow their companies. Over the next three years, the program will give out a total of $1.5 million to business owners across the country. Each grant recipient will receive $10,000, a one-year scholarship to BOSS Business University and monthly mentoring from BOSS or a selected agency.
The 2023 application period has closed, but future grant applications can be completed and submitted online via Hello Alice during the 2024 application period.
13. Wish Local Empowerment Program Grant
The Wish Local Empowerment Program Grant is part of a plan to aid in the fight against systemic racism and its impact on Black-owned businesses. This grant program accomplishes that goal by gifting $2 million in the form of $500 to $2,000 grants to shops and stores with no more than 20 employees, a U.S. brick-and-mortar location and less than $1 million in average annual revenue.
To complete the online application, business owners must provide details about their business and qualifications for the program. Selected businesses are required to join Wish Local, a program that partners e-commerce marketplace Wish with small businesses, which allows them to sell their products on Wish.
14. Power Forward Small Business Grant
Vistaprint, the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation and the NAACP have partnered to offer $1 million to Black-owned businesses through the Power Forward Small Business Grant. Black-owned small businesses in New England can win a $25,000 grant, marketing and design resources from VistaPrint and features on co-branded platforms.
To apply, your business will have to be based in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont or select areas of Connecticut. The current grant cycle just closed on June 30, but business owners can apply online when the application period re-opens.
15. Amber Grant
The Amber Grant was founded in 1998 by WomensNet to honor Amber Wigdahl, an aspiring business owner who died at 19 years old. Two monthly $10,000 grants are awarded to one woman-owned business in two different categories: Marketing Grants and Business Category Grants. At the end of each year, the previous monthly winners also have the opportunity to win two $25,000 grants.
The application for the Amber Grant is available online. Applicants must submit personal and business details and a $15 application fee. One application can be completed, and it will apply to all eligible grants related to your business.
16. National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grant
While the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) doesn’t specifically offer grants for Black women, the Self-Employed Growth Grant has granted money to business owners consistently since 2006, so it’s worth mentioning. Each year, four small business owners receive a $4,000 grant to cover various business expenses, including hiring, marketing and advertising.
This grant is open to any business owner, though you must be a NASE member in good standing. Additionally, you must provide details about their business and how the grant will be used when completing the online application. Grant applications are reviewed quarterly.
17. Galaxy Grant
Hidden Star, a non-profit dedicated to helping women of all backgrounds succeed as entrepreneurs, offers the Galaxy Grant to minority and/or woman-owned small businesses. Winning businesses each receive a $3,750 grant. Business owners can increase their chances of winning by referring a friend, and if the referred business owner wins, the referring business owner also wins.
Applications for the Galaxy Grant are accepted online. The 2023 application period has closed, so check back in 2024 to apply.
18. Small Business Growth Fund
Offered by Hello Alice in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) with funding from Etsy and Progressive, the Small Business Growth Fund issues grants from $5,000 to $25,000. These aren’t business grants for Black women alone, but you can apply if you meet the eligibility criteria. Those include operating a domestic for-profit business, having less than $1 million in gross revenue in 2022, having a clear plan for using the funds to grow your company and demonstrating a commitment to your customers and your community.
Applications close July 21 and Hello Alice plans to announce recipients in early September. You can start your application process by visiting the Small Business Growth Fund website. You’ll need a Hello Alice account.
19. Comcast RISE
Created in response to the pandemic, Comcast RISE (Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment) issued $110 million in grant money during its first two years. The program has grown in 2023 and, along with a new round of funding in the form of $5,000 grants, offers coaching, mentorship, education, TV commercial production support and more.
While applications for 2023 closed on June 30, you can likely expect this grant to return. It expanded its reach in the last round of grant funding. In 2023, business owners were eligible if they had been operating for at least three years, had fewer than 100 employees and operated from Baltimore, the Detroit area (Macomb County, Oakland County, Wayne County and Washtenaw County), the Memphis area (Shelby County), the Philadelphia area (Philadelphia County) or the Portland area (Multnomah County).
20. Beyond Open Small Business Grant Program
Run through the Foundation For The Carolinas, the Beyond Open Small Business Grant Program plans to issue more than $15 million in grants through three rounds of applications. With a focus on diverse-owned small businesses, they will likely issue many grants for Black women. The grant proceeds can only be used to purchase capital assets. Round 2 opens August 1 and closes August 31. You can sign up for email alerts on the website linked above.
To be eligible, your business needs to be located in one of six designated Corridors of Opportunity in Charlotte, have operated for at least one year, be for-profit and meet other criteria. You can find the full eligibility details here. Beyond Open plans to start Round 3 in 2024.
21. IFundWomen Universal Grant
IFundWomen regularly partners with brands like VISA, Botox and Johnny Walker to offer grants to women entrepreneurs and has specifically offered business grants for Black women in the past. While this funding marketplace doesn’t currently have any open grants for Black woman-owned businesses operating in the U.S., you can still fill out their IFundWomen Universal Grant Application. This way, you get into their pool and get automatically entered for any applicable grants that come up in the future.
Fill out the Universal Application linked above. IFundWomen says it should take ten minutes or less.
22. FedEx Small Business Grant
Each year, the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest issues grant money to selected small business owners nationwide. In 2023, 10 winners received a prize of $10,000 each. To be eligible for the grant, you must be a for-profit business in operation for at least six months, have fewer than 99 employees and have shipping needs for your business. FedEx will likely release additional eligibility specifics when the 2024 grant round opens up.
Applications generally open early in the year, so start checking back on the website above in January 2024 for details on the next FedEx Grant Contest.
23. Lift As We Climb Grant
The Lift As We Climb Grant was created by Flawless by Gabrielle Union. The grant aims to provide financial support and boost Black female businesses by awarding three Black female entrepreneurs each $25,000, a one-year LinkedIn Premium membership and a mentorship session. Eligible businesses include hair accessories, skincare or fashion brands with fully developed products or services not distributed at a major retailer.
Applications for the inaugural round of this grant closed on April 19, 2023. $75,000 in grant money was awarded to three business owners. It’s unclear if Flawless will offer a new round of grant funding in 2024.
Business grants are competitive. If you don’t win any of the above grants for Black women, consider other small business resources that can help you find money and support your business needs to thrive. You can also explore:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) manages this website, which includes a system that stores and organizes more than 1,000 federal grants that award more than $500 billion each year.
Under the United States Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is an agency that was founded with the goal of helping minority-owned businesses succeed. Beyond offering its own grants, the MBDA also has business centers tailored to help women of color get financing and other support for their companies.
If you create a Professional selling account with Amazon and go through the process to certify your business as Black-owned, you get access to resources tailored to support your store’s success. Some of those resources include a $500 credit to use for start-up and operational costs and $3,000 in advertising credits.
CFDIs are financial institutions with a dedication to helping individuals and business owners in underserved communities. Plus, the federal government has a CDFI Fund that helps those institutions offer funding and services to their clients. A loan through a CDFI generally has relaxed eligibility requirements than one through a traditional lender.
To qualify as a Minority Depository Institution, the institution has to have more than half of its stock owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.” In other words, the people making decisions at these institutions usually understand the hurdles Black women face in scaling their businesses, and they may be able to tailor products and services to support you.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) backs loans for small businesses, including ones geared toward historically disadvantaged communities. Right now, that includes a pilot program offering Community Advantage loans for up to $350,000. Beyond that, the SBA backs microloans to help business owners who can’t qualify for other types of SBA loans. There is also the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program, which supports historically disadvantaged business owners.
Several different Chambers of Commerce that operate nationally can help you here. For one, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. provides resources and programs specifically tailored to support Black business owners. Plus, the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are behind the Coalition to Back Black Businesses mentioned above, and they offer other resources and programs for minority-owned businesses.
Alternatives to business grants for Black women
While there are options when it comes to business grants for Black women, not everyone can get them. Black female entrepreneurs who don’t qualify for or receive a business grant have other options to help secure financing.
Small business loan
Small business loans allow owners to borrow a large sum and pay it back over time, plus interest and any fees. These loans are available through various lenders, including banks, credit unions, online lenders and the Small Business Administration(SBA). The business owner completes an application and provides details about their business, and the lender approves or denies the application. If approved, funds are received in one lump sum and can be used to cover short and long-term business expenses.
Some lenders provide affordable and accessible loans for business owners from disadvantaged and underserved communities. Check out our guide on the best business loans for minorities for more information.
Special purpose credit programs
Special purpose credit programs empower banks to provide loans to economically disadvantaged small business owners. While not widely available, some banks like Chase and Zions Bank provide credit to business owners who typically are not eligible for loans from traditional banks.
Business line of credit
A business line of credit is another option for business owners who need to cover short-term expenses, such as inventory or payroll. Similar to a business credit card, a business line of credit is revolving, so purchases can be made up to a certain limit and must be repaid by the due date or interest will be charged. Once the available credit resets, purchases can be made up to the limit again.
Business credit card
A business credit card is ideal for short-term expenses because it is a revolving line of credit that allows the cardholder to make purchases up to a certain limit. Perks typically found with business credit cards include grace periods if you pay your balance in full, discounts on business-related purchases and the chance to earn rewards that can be redeemed for travel or statement credits.
Through crowdfunding, business owners fundraise to cover various business expenses. Depending on the type of crowdfunding — donation, debt, reward or equity — donors will get something in return for their contribution, such as rewards or equity in the company.
Sites like SeedInvest and Indiegogo are great for crowdfunding, but Black Girl Ventures is an organization that offers Black women a unique crowdfunding experience. Through the BGV Pitch Program, business owners can participate in a live pitch event. They have six minutes to pitch their business and answer questions from the audience, who use money to vote for the best pitch.
Black women may be the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country, but they still face many barriers when it comes to launching and growing their businesses. While many other founders turn to bank loans, credit cards or lines of credit to fund their businesses, Black business owners tend to self-fund, which can be risky. But companies and organizations that create grants for Black women entrepreneurs can give more Black-owned businesses throughout the country the chance to succeed.
Frequently asked questions
Small business loans are available to women to start a business along with other resources. This includes grants, loans for underserved communities, business credit cards, business lines of credit or crowdfunding.
The SBA provides training and funding that can assist women and minorities. This includes the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program and 8(a) Business Development Program.
The SBA also offers business loans that are meant to help underserved communities like minorities, women and veterans. For more information, check out:
The federal government does not directly provide grants to start a business. But it does award grants to organizations that provide grants and additional resources to businesses. For more information, you can search grants.gov, a database of federal government grants.