Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at May 5th, 2021
Are you looking for grant funding opportunities? Grants are exceptionally competitive, and they often require filling out a lot of paperwork. Still, if you can get them, they are essentially free money. So, if you feel you have a better than 50% chance, then it makes sense to go after appropriate grants.
It tends to help if you are a member of a minority or a protected class. Also, it can help if you are bringing in something new to an area that needs it. For example, rural electrification grants seem to always be available.
Let’s start with entrepreneurs who are members of minorities and protected classes.
As female entrepreneurs continue to come into their own, the government and private ventures offer more grant funding opportunities. Here are a few to get you going.
Women have some great grants open to them. 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
Businesswomen can also try for a Cartier award. This award is for women of all classes and groups. 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, with $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 be recognized for a new thematic award. 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 be awarded a $100,000 grant. Each of the two remaining finalists will receive a $30,000 grant.
Cartier also offers a fellowship program. The fellowship is an educational program geared towards the 24 fellows selected each year. This program aims to equip the fellows with the necessary skills to grow their business. Also, it helps them to build their leadership capacity by drawing upon the experience and expertise of an array of 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.
Entrepreneurs who are African American have other choices when it comes to grants. And for persons who are members of more than one minority – such as black women or people who are both Asian and Native American – there are more choices.
Also known as NBMBAA, the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge has cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. The association states its purpose is to help newer businesses that have an African American ownership. This is a pitch competition for startup businesses. See nbmbaa.org/scale-up-pitch-challenge.
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is operated by the US Department of Commerce. It is dedicated to helping minority-owned businesses access the resources they need to grow and succeed. The MBDA is for both men and women. Grant competitions are regularly changing.
Visit the MBDA’s website for information 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 works to focus 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 serves as an advocate for women’s economic empowerment, by supporting efforts to advance women’s equality and promote women economic advancement programming. The vision of EWOC is to ensure women worldwide to reach their economic potential. See mbda.gov.
Are you all or part Native American? Then check out this grant.
The NABDI Grant is funded by the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. 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, 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 that can be requested, but most awards range in value from $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.
For business owners with Native American heritage, 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. 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, they just have to use the application for Indian Affairs. There are additional requirements if you use the funds 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.
The mission of this group is to offer grants that help Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Americans. 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.
If your business is in the arts, and you’re also of South Asian descent, then check out this fund. The fund is run by the India Center Foundation. It supports US-based South Asian arts workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund will disburse grants up to $2,000, depending on financial need to US-based arts workers of South Asian descent. This includes those in the performing arts, film, visual arts, and literature with heritage from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Initial funding for the program is $20,000, but the India Center Foundation is soliciting donations to expand the grant program.
To be eligible, applicants must be of South Asian descent. Also, they must work in the arts and demonstrate loss of income due to COVID-19. Also, applicants must be:
You can put grant funding toward any artistic project you can develop, create, and present. Also, it must be within four to six weeks of getting funding. See theindiacenter.us/artsfund.
The National Science Foundation supports small businesses with contracts and grants. They award nearly $190 million annually to startups and small businesses. This is through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.
The idea is to support transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. These grants support R&D across almost all areas of science and technology. To learn more about SBIR/STTR, visit https://seedfund.nsf.gov. See also nsf.gov/funding/smallbusiness.jsp.
The Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund is new. It was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund offers $10,000 to successful applicants. The fund is specifically focused 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
Grants.gov is a running list of more than 1,000 available federal government grants. The website compiles grants from over two dozen government agencies. Such as the SBA, USDA, and the US Department of Commerce. So, to find a grant right for your business, use the Search Grants tool on the website. Also, you can sort through the list of grants by keyword or opportunity number.
The USDA is where those rural electrification grants are.
Once you have located the grant you wish to apply for, click the opportunity number for more detail. There, you will find more information about the specific grant as well as any associated documentation you may need. To apply for a grant through Grants.gov, you must first register. Then, you can download an application package for the grant you want to get. Be ready for a lengthy process. See grants.gov.
If you would rather not rely on grants so much to fund your business, crowdfunding is a viable option. But keep in mind, not everyone with a campaign on a crowdfunding site is successful. Also, 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 than others.
Angel investors are informal investors. So essentially, you are selling a part of your business to them. They tend to not want a huge percentage of your business. Also, they won’t pass by more conventional businesses, like with crowdfunding and venture capital. Hence they can be another supplement or replacement for grants.
Also, if grants aren’t an option, loans might work for you.
Also, if you’re an immigrant, try the Business Center for New Americans. So they offer a pilot program for microloans up to $75,000. They work with immigrants, refugees, women, and other minority entrepreneurs. The goal is to help minority business owners who have not been able to get traditional financing. Terms are 3% interest. Loan repayment term goes up to a year. See accompanycapital.org.
The government and private organizations want to GIVE you money! Grants are a great way to supplement other business funding. And they are still worth the effort to apply. So there really isn’t anything to lose except time – it’s free money.
There are several grant funding opportunities out there for entrepreneurs. Members of minorities and protected classes tend to get some preference. But all entrepreneurs should apply for whichever grants they feel they are most likely to get. Also, other options for funding include crowdfunding, angel investors, and loans. Credit Suite can help you get the funding you need.