In the United States, there are 12.3 million women owned small business operations, with many opting to become WBE certified. These women generate $1.8 trillion annually and account for 40% of all business operations.
Due to the massive success of women in business, there are plenty of opportunities to receive funding to help your operations grow.
Even after the COVID-19 pandemic and the business world being turned upside down in 2020, there are more than enough ways to help your business get approved for the funding it needs for:
- Buying equipment
- Covering overhead
- Covering payroll
- Purchasing inventory
6 Funding Opportunities for Women Owned Small Businesses
1. SBA Loans for Women
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good opportunity to secure training and funding through government backed programs. Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) exist, which are centers that work specifically with women to help them overcome obstacles faced in today’s business world.
WBCs can help connect you with local resources of funding.
But there is also a specific program offered through the SBA called 8(a) Business Development program. The program is aimed at small and disadvantaged small businesses and is funded by a minimum of 5% of all federal contract dollars. This is a good opportunity to leverage government contracts, which can be both lucrative and long-term.
When trying to secure funding, the SBA also offers:
- 7(a) loans
- 504 loans
All of these loan options offer a great deal of diversity to borrowers that are at different stages in their business. For example, 7(a) loans are backed by the SBA, making them easier to obtain and alleviating lender risk.
The 504 loans are meant for the purchase or repair of assets, such as equipment, real estate and other key machinery.
Microloans are smaller loan amounts with a value of $50,000 or less. These are great loan options to help your business expand, grow or even get started.
Knowing which funding options are available through the SBA empowers women to grow their business while paying lower interest rates and securing loans with greater ease.
Federal grants have been, traditionally, hard to find and leverage. Today, you can use grants.gov to search and apply for grants. There are official apps for your smartphone that can also be used for these applications.
You’ll be able to refine all of your searches to find specific grants for small businesses.
It’s important to be sure that you have applied and received your DUNS number, which will be required for many of these grants. Create an account on the site, or use the app, and begin applying for grants.
The great thing about grants is that you don’t need to repay them.
3. Amber Grant
Amber Grant is a foundation that opened in 1998 and provides monthly grants to women worth $10,000. There’s also an annual grant of $25,000 that’s provided. You’ll need to fill out an application and pay a $15 fee.
Canadian and United States business owners can apply for the grant, which honors a 19-year-old Amber who died before she could realize her business dreams.
4. FedEx Small Business Grant
FedEx offers a massive grant opportunity that has 100 finalists and 12 owners that will receive a grant and a grand prize winner of $50,000. The grants have been improved in recent years, with the company offering the following:
- $50,000;$7,500 in office print services to the grand prize winner
- $30,000;$5,000 in office print services to the second-place winner
- $15,000;$1,500 in office print services to the 10 third place winners
When you apply for the grant, you’ll need to provide information about your business, what you plan on using the money for, a video explanation of your business and additional information. You’ll need to be a small business with less than 99 employees and must have been in operation for a period of at least six months.
5. Cartier Women’s Initiative Award
The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award is a massive empowering grant providing 21 female business owners with the funding they need to fund their business operations. The grant offers a variety of benefits:
- Grand prize of $100,000 to seven top finalists
- Second-place prize of $30,000 to 14 applicants
The opportunity doesn’t stop there. All of the finalists will be able to participate in workshops, networking opportunities and business coaching seminars. There’s also one-on-one mentoring that will help small business owners learn from someone that has been a success and can help them get their business off of the ground.
GrantsforWomen.org is a superb resource that connects women-owned small businesses with grant opportunities. There are a lot of opportunities, added often, that will connect you with the latest and greatest grant opportunities.
Keep in mind that you’ll be directed to the grant’s official website to provide your application for approval.
The site is just a database of the most recent grant opportunities available to women.
What Can Funding Be Used for by Women Owned Small Business Owners?
Women owned small businesses can use the funding that they receive for a variety of expenses, which may include:
- Purchasing additional inventory
- Expanding current operations
- Payment processing advancements
Credit card processing and merchant services are two of the ways to advance business operations. From point-of-sale systems to on-the-go mobile payments, small businesses can benefit from upgrading their current merchant services to make the purchasing process more streamlined for their customers.
Funding is available to WBE certified businesses, and while these aren’t your only funding opportunities, they can certainly help you grow and expand your operations.
Grant Application Tips to Improve Your Chances of Winning
Grants need to be approved, and when you’re filling out the application, you’ll want to adhere to some tips that can increase your chances of getting the funding that you need for your small business.
The most popular tips when applying for grants:
- Apply to the right grants. Read through the grant requirements completely before signing up. You’ll waste a lot of time if you apply for grants that are not a good fit for your business.
- Business plan. Spend the time to write a business plan and even work with a professional if necessary. Grants are awarded to viable business ideas, and the only way to determine if your business is viable is to read through your business plan.
- Work with a grant writer. Not sure how to write a grant application? Hire someone. Grant writers have experience helping businesses apply for grants and will know what to say and include in your application to increase your chances of winning the grant.
A great tip that deserves more attention is to look at the former businesses that have been grant winners. These past winners will provide you with a glimpse of the type of businesses that have been awarded grants and better help you weed through grants that may not be granted to businesses like yours.
When you need capital to leverage bulk purchase opportunities or to ramp up operations to meet the demand of a big contract, grants, lines of credit and SBA loans are good options. These funding options enable you to take advantage of opportunities that you may not have been able to leverage in the past.