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Minority Small-Business Grants: 16 Opportunities and Resources
Small-business grants can help your minority-owned business access funding you don't have to pay back.
Steve Nicastro is a former NerdWallet writer and authority on personal
loans and small business. His work has appeared in USA Today, The New York Times and MarketWatch. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University.
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Minority small-business grants offer funding you don’t have to pay back. Though business grants can give you a leg up, competition tends to be stiff and funding amounts are usually relatively small. You may want to consider alternative financing options as well.
Below, we've included the best small-business grants for minority business owners. We’ve also rounded up other resources where entrepreneurs of color can get free coaching and additional support.
This database helps grant seekers find and apply for federal funding opportunities. It contains information on more than 1,000 grant programs across federal grant-making agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA.
To apply, you’ll need a unique entity ID, which lets you bid on government contracts and apply for federal grants. You'll also need an account at Grants.gov.
This is a USDA grant for the development or expansion of small businesses in rural areas — minority-owned or not. To qualify, you’ll need to have 50 or fewer new employees and less than $1 million in gross revenue as well as be in an eligible rural area.
Grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including training and technical assistance, acquisition or development of land and long-term business planning. Applications are accepted through the USDA Rural Development’s state offices once per year.
Socially or economically disadvantaged small-business owners are eligible to receive help through the SBA 8(a) program. It doesn’t offer grant funding but does provide business development assistance, training, and management and technical guidance.
To qualify, a small business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by a citizen who has been subjected to cultural bias or prejudice and placed at an economic disadvantage because of race or ethnicity. Here is a list of eligibility requirements.
The council is a corporate member organization focused on increasing business opportunities for certified minority-owned businesses. It operates the Business Consortium Fund, a nonprofit business development program that offers financing programs and business advisory services for its members.
This development agency of the Department of Commerce promotes the growth of minority-run small businesses by connecting owners with financing resources, federal contracts and market opportunities. Connect with a local MBDA business center in your region for more information.
These SBA-sponsored resource centers offer free one-on-one coaching and consulting on topics like market research and financing your business. They may be able to help you apply for the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program and Minority and Women Business Enterprise Certifications.
The Operation Hope program combines business training and financial counseling along with access to small-business financing options. Through a partnership with Shopify, 1 Million Black Businesses offers business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs free access to Intuit and Shopify products, plus coaching.
These $5,000 grants are available each fall to Black-owned businesses with between three and 20 employees. Grantees also get to participate in a mentorship experience, and some receive an additional $25,000 when they’re finished. To qualify, you must be in an economically vulnerable community and have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This grant program is a partnership among LegalZoom, the NBA, the WNBA and the NBA G League. Businesses can receive $10,000 in grant money plus free LegalZoom services. Accion Opportunity Fund is the nonprofit administrator of the program.
Each of this grant’s application cycles is open to minority and women entrepreneurs in specific target cities. In each participating city, 100 business owners receive grants of $10,000 each. Applicants must have 25 or fewer employees and at least three years in business.
This grant is available to Black entrepreneurs whose businesses were founded in 2019 or earlier and were affected by COVID-19 or looting destruction. Up to 15 applicants receive grants during each three-month application cycle.
Three businesses win cash prizes from this contest each year, with the overall winner taking home a $50,000 grant prize. To apply, your business must have a Black founder and at least one member of your pitch team has to be a National Black MBA Association member.
This nonprofit trade association provides educational resources and grants for small businesses and entrepreneurs. To apply for a grant of up to $4,000, you’ll need to become an active member of the association, provide a detailed explanation of how you’ll use the funds, show how the grant will support your business growth and provide supporting documentation.
This competitionawards small businesses with grants of up to $50,000 each year. Any for-profit small business with a shipping need is eligible to enter, provided it has been operating for at least six months and has fewer than 99 employees when the annual contest starts.
Alternatives to minority small-business grants
Business grants can be difficult to apply for and even harder to win. For other ways to help fund your minority-owned business, consider the following options.
SBA microloans: These government-backed loans of up to $50,000 can be a good choice for new or very small businesses. They’re typically issued by nonprofit community financial institutions, many of which offer additional training and resources.
Crowdfunding: If you can tell your business’s story online in a way that persuades your customers and supporters to invest in you, you may be able to raise significant capital to launch or expand your business.
Business lines of credit:These business loans work like credit cards but usually have higher credit limits. They can be a good choice for companies that need to borrow money but aren’t quite sure how much — you’ll pay interest on only what you borrow, and you can pay funds back and borrow them again as often as you need.
Peer-to-peer business loans:Because they’re issued by private investors instead of financial institutions, P2P business loans may be easier for new or small businesses to qualify for. Some are similar to crowdfunding platforms.