Business grants offer free money that can help Black women grow or even launch a business. While that may sound appealing, small-business grant contests tend to have short application windows and lots of competition for relatively small amounts of funding, so it’s important to tap other resources, too.
In this list, we’ve rounded up lots of business grants for Black women. Some are open to other Black or female-identifying entrepreneurs, too. You’ll also find organizations that help Black women business owners win government contracts, pitch investors or find other funding opportunities.
Business grants for Black women
These grant programs fund only businesses owned by Black women.
1. Fearless Strivers Grant Initiative
The Fearless Strivers Grant Initiative awards $10,000 grants to businesses in specific cities — Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Dayton, Ohio; Los Angeles; New Orleans; New York City; and St. Louis — and 11 additional grants to businesses nationwide. In addition to funding, winners get one-on-one mentorship and access to digital tools.
The program is administered by The Fearless Fund in collaboration with Mastercard. Learn more.
2. SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
These $10,000 and $5,000 grants are meant to support Black women entrepreneurs with “the ambition to be the next billion dollar business.” Grants are awarded on a rolling basis, so you can apply anytime.
The program is administered by the SoGal Foundation and funded by WinkyLux, Bluemercury, twelveNYC, Twilio and Walmart. Learn more.
3. Build Your Legacy Grant
This grant contest administered by Essence and Pine-Sol has only one grand prize, but it’s a big one: In 2022, the winner received $100,000 in grant funding and six months of business coaching. You can sign up for Pine-Sol’s newsletter to get more information. Learn more.
4. HerRise Micro-Grant
This program awards $500 per month to a small business owned by a woman of color. The grant is a program of the Yva Jourdan Foundation, the nonprofit arm of HerSuiteSpot. Learn more.
Other business grants Black women may be eligible for
In addition to grants intended specifically for Black women, there are more general business grants for women, Black business owners or entrepreneurs of color — all of which you might be eligible for.
Other business grant programs are open to all entrepreneurs regardless of ethnicity or gender. If a program is currently closed to applications, take note of requirements and sign up to be notified when it reopens.
5. Fast Break for Small Business
This $10,000 grant includes free LegalZoom services. The program is funded by LegalZoom, the NBA, the WNBA and the NBA G League. Applications open each year during the NBA season, which typically runs from October to June. Learn more.
6. Comcast RISE Investment Fund
This grant targets different cities with each funding cycle. In each new city, the program awards $10,000 grants to 100 business owners. To apply, you must have been in business for at least three years and have 25 employees or fewer. Learn more.
7. Coalition to Back Black Businesses
This partnership, which includes companies like American Express and Shopify, offers $5,000 grants to Black-owned businesses every fall. After a period of mentorship and coaching, several grantees receive an additional $25,000. To qualify, businesses must have three to 20 employees and be in an “economically vulnerable community,” as determined by the Distressed Communities Index. Learn more.
8. Power Forward Small Business Grant
This grant is available to Black-owned businesses in New England. The program, funded by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation and VistaPrint in partnership with the NAACP, awards $25,000 grants on a rolling basis. Learn more.
9. The Amber Grant Foundation
The Amber Grant Foundation awards monthly grants of up to $10,000 to help female entrepreneurs launch their businesses. If you’re awarded one of the $10,000 monthly grants, you will also be in the running to win the Amber Grant’s yearly $25,000 grant.
To apply, you’ll fill out a short form on the Amber Grant website, where you’ll tell the organization about your business idea and how you would spend your grant funds. Note that you’ll have to pay a $15 application fee. Learn more.
10. NASE Growth Grants
Founded in 1981, the National Association for the Self-Employed, or NASE, is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs and microbusinesses. Its grant program awards NASE members up to $4,000 to finance a particular need, whether that’s buying equipment, hiring staff, launching a marketing plan or making another approved purchase.
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year, and the organization awards one grant per month. To apply for an NASE Growth Grant, you’ll need to join NASE and remain in good standing with the organization for at least three months. Learn more.
11. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
FedEx’s annual grant competition gives a $50,000 grant, plus $4,000 in FedEx print and business services, to three grand prize winners each year. Other winners receive grants, too. The contest is open to U.S.-based businesses that have at least six months in business and fewer than 99 employees. Learn more.
Other free resources for Black women entrepreneurs
12. Black Girl Ventures
Black Girl Ventures, or BGV, says its mission is “to provide Black/brown woman-identifying founders with access to community, capital, and capacity building.” The organization’s marquee offering is its crowdfunded pitch competition program, in which participating entrepreneurs have three minutes to pitch their business idea, followed by a three-minute Q&A session with a panel of professionals in front of an audience. The top three teams win cash prizes, but all teams can keep the capital they raise. Learn more.
IFundWomen, or IFW, helps female and female-identifying founders of any race or ethnicity find capital through crowdfunding and assists with coaching, networking and grant opportunities. The organization's grants hub aggregates grant opportunities for women with up-to-date application deadlines. Learn more.
14. Minority Business Development Agency
The Minority Business Development Agency, or MBDA, is a federal agency that supports the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in the U.S. Much like the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA, the MBDA has locations across the country where minority entrepreneurs can seek financial assistance and business consulting. Learn more.
Grants.gov is a portal where federal agencies offering grant programs — specifically for minority-owned businesses and otherwise — post information about their offerings, including eligibility requirements, funding amounts and application deadlines. You can look for a grant according to several search criteria, including your industry and the sponsoring federal agency. Learn more.
16. SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
The SBA 8(a) Business Development Program is an assistance program that aids “economically and socially disadvantaged business owners” in securing government contracts.
Each year, the federal government aims to dedicate 5% of its annual contracting budget to small businesses that are owned and operated by underrepresented entrepreneurs via the SBA 8(a) federal contracting program. The Business Development Program provides entrepreneurs the support they need to win those contracts, including receiving one-on-one advising.
17. Female Founders Fund
If you’re a tech entrepreneur seeking early-stage funding opportunities, consider pitching the Female Founders Fund. The FFF invests in business-to-business, consumer, fintech and health care businesses that have at least one female founding member, and it primarily focuses on investing in seed-stage businesses. The fund averages six to eight investments per year, with investments ranging from $500,000 to $750,000. Learn more.
18. Women’s Business Centers
Nationwide, there are more than 100 SBA Women’s Business Centers. Though most don’t make grants, they can help women business owners with coaching, classes and finding capital. Learn more.
Alternatives to small-business grants for Black women
Business grants aren’t the right fit for every company. With their short application windows, relatively small funding amounts and competitive judging processes, grants can be limiting.
SBA microloans: These loans of up to $50,000 are backed by the U.S. government and issued by nonprofit community financial institutions. Many microlenders offer training and other resources, which can be valuable to business owners. They also may be easier to qualify for than other types of financing if you’re a new or very small business. Crowdfunding: Some businesses are able to raise money from customers and supporters — whether they know them or not. There are a variety of crowdfunding campaigns, from donation-based support to investments that you promise to pay back as your business grows, so you can choose one that’s right for you. Business credit cards: Credit cards can be useful for most businesses that are up and running because they let you keep up with everyday expenses even when your cash flow is uneven. You may be able to find a card that rewards your spending, too. Peer-to-peer business loans: Funding for P2P loans can come from crowdfunding platforms like Kiva as well as well-established institutional investors. In general, though, they can be easier to qualify for than bank loans for new or small businesses. Business lines of credit: A line of credit may be a good choice if you need six figures in financing or more. These loans operate similar to credit cards: You borrow what you need to spend, pay your debt down over time, then borrow again up to your limit. Lines of credit may require at least a year in business to apply for, though.
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A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.