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18 Business Grants for Black Women, Plus Free Resources
Grant funding can help Black women entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. Here are some options.
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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 open to Black women. Some are open to other entrepreneurs, too. If a program is currently closed to applications, take note of requirements and sign up to be notified when it reopens. You’ll also find organizations that help Black women business owners win government contracts, pitch investors or find other funding opportunities.
The Fearless Strivers Grant Initiative, administered in collaboration with Mastercard, awards $20,000 grants to four businesses nationwide. In addition to funding, winners get one-on-one mentorship and access to digital tools. Applicants must be Black women, U.S. citizens and over the age of 18. The 2023 cycle closes on August 31.
2. SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
These $10,000 and $5,000 grants from the SoGal Foundation are meant to support Black women or nonbinary entrepreneurs with “the ambition to be the next billion dollar business.” Grants are awarded on a rolling basis, so you can apply anytime.
3. HerRise Micro-Grant
The HerRise Micro-Grant program awards $1,000 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. Applications close on the last day of each month.
4. Wish Local Empowerment Program Grant
The Wish Local Empowerment Program offers grants between $500 and $2,000 to Black business owners. In order to be eligible, applicants must own a brick-and-mortar storefront in the U.S.; must be over the age of 18; must have 20 or fewer employees; and must have an average annual revenue of less than $1 million.
Currently in its fifth year, the Business Impact Grant from Publish Her awards a $5,000 grant to a woman of color business owner. To qualify, you must be over 21 and a U.S. resident. Your business must have been in operation for at least one year, be 100% woman owned and generate at least $50,000 in revenue. Applications close on August 31, 2023 and the winner will be announced in October.
6. The Transform Business Grant
The Transform Business Grant is open to business owners from systemically oppressed backgrounds. BIPOC individuals, individuals with disabilities, queer, trans and nonbinary individuals, as well as formerly incarcerated individuals are all eligible to apply. Applications are open from July 20 - August 20, 2023 and will be reviewed in August. Each grantee will receive a $1,000 microgrant.
7. Comcast RISE Investment Fund
The Comcast RISE grant targets different cities with each funding cycle. In each new city, the program awards $5,000 grants. To apply, you must have been in business for at least three years and have 100 or fewer employees. This grant program was originally open exclusively to people of color and women, but has since expanded to all small business owners. Applications for businesses in select cities are open from June 1 - 30, 2023.
8. Coalition to Back Black Businesses
Now in its third year, the Coalition to Back Black Business offers $5,000 grants to Black-owned businesses each fall. After a period of mentorship and coaching, select 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.
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.
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.
11. Corporate Counsel Women of Color Grants
The Corporate Counsel Women of Color awards five $5,000 grants to women of color business owners. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and grants are awarded twice annually. To be eligible, your business must have been established as of January 1, 2020; it must be a U.S.-based, for-profit business; and it must have generated at least $25,000 in revenue since its inception.
12. LegalZoom Fast Break for Small Business
The Fast Break for Small Business Grant offers $10,000 in funding and $500 in free LegalZoom services. The program, which is offered in partnership with Accion Opportunity Fund, is funded by the NBA, the WNBA and the NBA G League. Applications will reopen later this year.
13. National Black Business Pitch
The National Black Business Pitch competition awards grants up to $10,000 to three businesses. To be eligible, your business must be Black-owned and U.S. based. Applications for the 2023 cycle closed on June 1. Thirty businesses will then be selected to participate in the pitch competition held on August 23 and 24.
14. Women of Color Grant Program
A partnership between the Fearless Foundation and the Tory Burch Foundation, the Women of Color Grant Program awards $10,000 - $20,000 grants to up to 75 businesses that are owned by women of color. To be eligible, businesses must be 51% woman of color-owned. Applications for the 2023 cycle closed on April 28. Winners will be selected in July 2023.
15. REI Navigate Program
In its second year, the REI Navigate Program is a four-month entrepreneurial program open to outdoor-related businesses with at least one founder who identifies as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American or Pacific Islander. In addition to mentorship and programming, participants receive a $25,000 grant. The 2023 cohort was announced on June 1. Applications for the 2024 program are expected to open early next year.
16. The Black Ambition Prize
The Black Ambition Prize is open to Black and Hispanic individuals in the process of creating early-stage ventures in one of the following categories: consumer products and services; healthcare; media and entertainment; technology; and web 3.0. One grand prize winner is awarded $1,000,000, and 15 additional teams win between $15,000 and $250,000. Applications for the 2023 cycle closed on May 8.
17. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
FedEx’s annual grant competition gives a $30,000 grant, plus $4,000 in FedEx print and business services, to 10 grand prize winners each year. The contest is open to for-profit U.S.-based businesses that have been in operation for at least six months and have fewer than 99 employees. The winners for the 2023 cycle were announced in May.
18. Invest in Progress Grant
A partnership between the BOSS Network and Sage, the Invest in Progress Grant, will award $10,000 grants to up 25 Black female entrepreneurs. To be eligible, businesses must be owned by a Black woman, have a demonstrated need for funds and be a U.S.-based, for-profit business. The 2023 cycle closed to applications on February 24.
Free resources for Black women entrepreneurs
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.
Amazon Black Business Accelerator
Black business owners with an Amazon Professional Seller account can sign up for the Black Business Accelerator program. Businesses will receive a $500 credit toward startup and operational costs for their Amazon Seller account; up to $3,000 in advertising credits; and a $1,000 Buy with Prime credit to offer shoppers fast, free shipping. Free business education, coaching and onboarding support are also offered. Learn more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fund your dreams with a small-business loan
If grants aren't available for your business right now, check out NerdWallet's picks for the best small-business loans and compare your options.
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.