9 Of The Best Small Business Grants For Women And Minorities

In the second of three articles in our new series on small business grants, we’re looking at grants for women and minorities.

We know what enterprising spirits MindShift.money members possess. Whether you’re fueled by passion, profit or a killer mixture of both, you have a vision for a business that adds value to the world. But whether you’re building a Legacy Business or a Profit Business, securing funding is a major hurdle in your quest to start your own company.

And if you’re a female, the stats are sobering. A new report reveals that women-owned companies get nearly 50% less funding than their male counterparts. What’s worse, the lending gap between genders is widening.

So what about minorities? Of the $1.5 billion in loans issued last year by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in California only 2% went to African-American owned-businesses. And a mere 23% of that pot of money went to Latino business owners.

But we do have some good news. There are grants for women and minorities to help fuel your business. That’s right, money you can snag essentially for free.

In our first installment of our three-part series on small business funding, we featured grants for businesses focused on social good. Here, we’ll cover small business grants for companies owned by women and minorities:

Grants For Women

The Amber Grant

Launched in 1998, The WomenNet’s Amber Grant program helps women achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. Each month, the program selects a budding female business owner to receive $1,000 in funding. Of the dozen grant beneficiaries, one is chosen for the annual big-ticket award: $10,000 to use toward kick-starting their business.

What makes the Amber Grant particularly appealing is that there isn’t a lengthy, complicated form to apply. You simply share your story. Past recipients include Otehlia Cassidy, founder of Madison Eats Food Tours and Barbara Hanna whose company Cyant is committed to fusing art and tech to foster innovation and creativity.

Halstead Grant

Emerging female jewelry designers are encouraged to apply for the annual Halstead Grant. Since 2003, they’ve given a $7,500 cash grant, plus $1,000 for jewelry supplies, to one winner each year. To be eligible, you need to be a U.S. citizen who started their business within the last three years.

The Girlboss Foundation Grant

Founded by Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Girl fame, since 2014 The Girlboss Foundation has doled out more than $130,000 to female entrepreneurs. To apply, you must be 18 or older,  live in the U.S. and work in the fields of fashion, design, music or the arts. The grant happens twice a year, and each grant recipient receives $15,000 plus notable press.


Do you have a product or service that could have a major, lasting impact on the lives of women and families that has money making potential? If so, the InnovateHER Challenge could be the place to showcase your idea—and receive substantial funding.

Here’s how it works: The SBA judges the winning business plans of 120 local pitch competitions across the U.S. Next, 10 finalists attend the big pitch competition in Washington, D.C. The three winners receive $40,000, $20,000 and $10,000 respectively. Past winners include female entrepreneurs Elizabeth Caven of Upcraft Club, a website for digital sewing patterns and Bethany Edwards, creator of LIA Diagnostics, an eco-friendly, easy-to-use pregnancy test.

Zions Bank Smart Women Grant

If you’re a budding female entrepreneur in Utah, you’re eligible to receive a $3,000 award through its Smart Women Grants. Since 2004, Zions Bank has given grants to women devoted to bringing value to their communities through their organizations. To date, the bank has awarded 82 micro grants totaling $235,000. And if you don’t live in Utah, check for this type of program in your local area.

Grants For Minorities

National Minority Supplier Development Council

Through the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the Business Consortium Fund extends financing to certified minority-owned businesses. While not exactly a grant, it’s a lending opportunity for entrepreneurs who may otherwise have a tough time securing a loan. Loan amounts and line of credits vary, from $75,000 to $500,000. Note there is a $350, non-refundable application fee.

Operation HOPE Small Business Empowerment Program

For those who live in low-wealth, underserved neighborhoods, the Operation HOPE Small Business Empowerment Program offers business training, financial counseling and lending services.

Selected participants enroll in a 12-week entrepreneurial program and credit and money management workshop. Plus, they have access to more than 25 direct lenders around the world. Not too shabby!

Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

The DOT’s small business initiative provides funding, resources and tools to business owners for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE).  So what are DBEs? They’re for-profit small businesses that are at least 51% owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

To fit the bill, you can’t have a net worth more than $1.32 million, you must meet SBA size criteria and your business’s annual gross receipts cannot exceed $23.98 million.


If you’re an LGBT business owner, you may be eligible for funding, mentorship and education through StartOut. The community of more than 15,000 LGBT entrepreneurs has chapters in six cities: New York City, Boston, Austin, Chicago Los Angeles and San Francisco. Note: You must be a StartOut member to be considered for funding.

Loving this series? You can find the first article here.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.

image credit: Bigstock/Blend Images

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