Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at March 26th, 2021
Are you a minority woman in business? Or are you starting a business? Money is always going to be an issue. What if you could get what is essentially free money? That’s what grants are – for the most part. So it would behoove you to look into business grants for minority women.
How do you find the best options for you? How do you know if you need to be looking for grants or business loans for minority women? We recommend that you explore every option. This is because it will probably take a combination of funding options to fully fund your business.
There are business loans for minority women. But they’re often not for them exclusively. But there are other funding choices out there. Loans, crowdfunding, and even angel investors are all viable options. More on those later.
The government and private organizations want to GIVE you money! They’re highly competitive and rarely enough to fund a business on their own. Still, grants are a great way to supplement other business funding. And they are still worth the effort to apply. There really isn’t anything to lose except time – it’s free money. Here are a few you can start with.
The Amber Grant awards one prize of $10,000 per month to a woman-owned business. One of the recipients also receives an additional $25,000 grant at the end of the year. Applicants only need to tell their story and turn it in with a $15 application fee. See ambergrantsforwomen.com/get-an-amber-grant/apply-now.
This award is for women but there’s no specification that a woman be a member of a minority group. The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award has a regional category award and a science and technology award. The regional award is $100,000 for first place, and $30,000 for second and third place.
The award goes to three women from each of seven international regions. This award is a grant to 21 female business owners from around the world each year. Women business owners who are just getting started may qualify. Look over the complete application for more information. See cartierwomensinitiative.com/about-us.
The Cartier Science and Technology Pioneer award is new as of 2021. With this award, three more women impact entrepreneurs at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation will get recognition. Open to women entrepreneurs from any country and sector. This award will highlight disruptive solutions built around unique, protected, or hard-to-reproduce technological or scientific advances. The laureate will get a $100,000 grant. Each of the two remaining finalists will get a $30,000 grant.
Cartier also offers a fellowship program. The fellowship is an educational program geared towards the 24 fellows selected each year. The fellowship program aims to equip the fellows with necessary skills to grow their business. And it helps them to build their leadership capacity. It does so by drawing upon the experience and expertise of many academics, practitioners, industry experts, and entrepreneurs.
The fellowship isn’t exactly a grant. But while it’s not a monetary award, the mentoring and networking opportunities could be worthwhile to apply for. See cartierwomensinitiative.com/fellowship-programme.
Also known as NBMBAA, the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge has cash prizes from $1,000 to $50,000. The association’s purpose is to help newer businesses with African American ownership. This is a pitch competition for startup businesses. See nbmbaa.org/scale-up-pitch-challenge.
The US Department of Commerce runs the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). It works to help minority-owned businesses get the resources they need to grow and succeed. The MBDA is not just for women. Grant competitions are regularly changing.
Visit the MBDA’s website for info on all current opportunities. Currently, the MBDA helps its members apply for grants via Grants.gov. This involves help with how to apply for government grants. See mbda.gov/grants.
The MBDA oversees the Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Initiative. The initiative focuses on the fast-expanding minority women entrepreneur population as a revenue generators for families, communities, and the nation. Minority women are the fastest growing population of entrepreneurs. While many women are making tremendous strides in the business world, they still face obstacles as entrepreneurs
MBDA is an advocate for women’s economic empowerment. They support efforts to advance women’s equality and promote women economic advancement programming. The vision of EWOC is to ensure women worldwide reach their economic potential. See mbda.gov.
The Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund is new. It is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund offers $10,000 to successful applicants. The fund specifically focuses on providing grants to business owners of color, women-owned businesses, and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. See lisc.org/covid-19/small-business-assistance/small-business-relief-grants/verizon-small-business-recovery-fund.
The mission of this group is to offer grants that help Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Americans. These grants are for any gender. So you would be competing against Native Hawaiian, Alaskan, and Native American men. They help in the application process in addition to funds.
First Nations also helps point individuals to appropriate grants offered by other organizations, including the US government. This includes help with writing grant proposals. See firstnations.org/grantmaking.
The NABDI Grant is funded by the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. It is not just for women. It provides funding to business owners of Native American or Alaskan Native descent. In 2019, the program provided more than $727,000 to 21 indigenous tribes. So this was to support economic feasibility studies for specific economic development projects or business startups.
For 2020, NABDI planned to award 20-25 grants. There is no minimum or maximum amount of funding you can request. But most awards range $25,000 to $75,000. They only fund projects for one year at a time, which is when they expect projects to be completed. To apply for a NABDI grant for your proposed economic development feasibility study, go to bia.gov/service/grants/tedc/apply-nabdi-grant.
There is more available via the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Businesses owned by Native Americans can get financing from the federal government through the Indian Affairs branch. These are not just for women. An individual can fill out an application for up to $500,000. But business entities and tribal enterprises may apply for more.
Potential borrowers can apply with any lending institution. But they just have to use the application for Indian Affairs. Additional requirements are in place if the funds are used for construction, renovation, or refinancing. In general, you must supply a list of collateral, a credit report, and an analysis of business operations. See bia.gov/as-ia/ieed/loan-guaranty-insurance-and-interest-subsidy-program
If your business is in the arts, and you’re of South Asian descent, then check out this fund. The fund is operated by the India Center Foundation. It is designed to support US-based South Asian arts workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
The fund will disburse grants up to $2,000. This depends on financial need to US-based arts workers of South Asian descent. This includes those in the performing arts, film, visual arts, and literature. It’s for people with heritage from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Also, initial funding for the program is $20,000. But the India Center Foundation is soliciting donations to expand the grant program.
Applicants must be of South Asian descent, work in the arts and demonstrate loss of income due to COVID-19. Additionally, applicants must be at least 21 years old. You can’t be enrolled in a degree program. Plus they must be able to receive taxable income in the US. Grant funding can go toward any artistic project you can develop, create, and present within 4-6 weeks of getting funding. See theindiacenter.us/artsfund.
The federal government gives out grants to all genders and all races. Grants.gov is a running list of over 1,000 available government grants. So this includes minority business grants. The website compiles grants from more than two dozen government agencies. So these are agencies like the SBA, USDA, and the US Department of Commerce. To find grants right for your business, use the Search Grants tool on the site. Then sort the list of grants by keyword or opportunity number.
Once you find the grant you wish to apply for, click the hyperlinked opportunity number for more detail. There, you will find more information about the specific grant as well as any associated documentation you might need. To apply for a grant through Grants.gov, you must first register. Then, you will be able to download an application package for the grant you want. But be ready for a lengthy process.
If you’d rather not rely on grants so much to start and run your business, crowdfunding is a viable option. Still, not everyone with a campaign on a crowdfunding site is successful. This is because more unique products and services tend to do better. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the most popular crowdfunding platforms to use. Some platforms may have higher success rates for women than others.
Angel investors are informal investors. So essentially, you are selling a part of your business to them. Also, they tend to not want a huge percentage of your business. In addition, they won’t pass by more conventional businesses, like with crowdfunding and venture capital. Hence they can be another supplement or replacement for grants.
If grants aren’t an option, loans might work. So if you’re an immigrant, try the Business Center for New Americans. They offer a pilot program for microloans up to $75,000. Also, they work with immigrants, refugees, women, and other minority entrepreneurs. Hence the goal is to help minority business owners who could not get traditional financing. Terms are 3% interest. Loan repayment term goes up to a year. See accompanycapital.org.
So there are several options for grants for minorities and for women. Minority women should apply for grants they feel they are most likely to get. Other options for funding include crowdfunding, angel investors, and loans. Credit Suite can help you get the funding you need.