They say there’s no such thing as a free ride. Indeed, on the path to getting small-business grants, you’ll pay your dues by searching countless websites, clicking out-of-date links or struggling with government databases before finding a grant that suits your business goals.
To make finding free money easier, we’ve compiled a list of federal, state and private websites that offer grants or resources for small businesses.
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Federal small-business grants
Government agencies are among the biggest distributors of grants, supporting a range of enterprises from environmental conservation to child care services. The application process can be intimidating, but federal grants are great opportunities for small-business owners looking to grow.
Grants.gov: Grants.gov is a comprehensive, though daunting, database of grants administered by various government agencies. To learn more about available grants, eligibility and the process of applying, click on “Apply for grants” under the “Applicants” tab at the top of the homepage.
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs: The SBIR and the STTR are grant programs focused on research and development, particularly for technology innovation and scientific research. The programs help connect small businesses, universities and research centers with federal grants and contracts from 12 government agencies. To qualify, you must operate a for-profit business, have no more than 500 employees, and meet other eligibility requirements relating to type, size and ownership of the business.
USA.gov: Although you won’t find any federal small-business grants here, this official government website provides resources for starting or growing a small business, including a link to GovLoans, which provides information on all of the types of federal loans available for businesses.
State and regional small-business grants
Economic Development Administration: This U.S. Department of Commerce agency provides grants, resources and technical assistance to communities to support economic growth and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
Each state’s agency helps businesses find financing (including state or regional grants), secure locations and recruit employees. You can search for regional offices and local resources at the EDA’s website.
Small Business Development Centers: Your local SBDC provides support for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. They’re often associated with local universities or the state’s economic development agency, and many can help connect business owners with financing opportunities, as well as mentors and networking opportunities and training on basic business skills.
Corporate small-business grants
Many corporations and large companies have a philanthropic component that includes small-business grants. While some provide grants only to nonprofits servicing specific industries, some give to for-profit companies.
|FedEx's Small Business Grant||During its annual grant competition, FedEx awards 10 small businesses with grants up to $25,000 and FedEx office supplies up to $7,500. The contest is open to for-profit businesses operating at least six months with no more than 99 employees.|
|Miller Lite Tap the Future||Tap the Future is a live-pitch competition. Twenty-five businesses pitch in front of judges in five major U.S. cities for a chance to win $20,000. The winner from each location will go to the national competition for a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize.|
|National Association of the Self-Employed||NASE offers monthly $4,000 grants to small businesses. Must be a NASE member to apply.|
|LendingTree||LendingTree offers a $50,000 grant to help small businesses that are having trouble scaling. One award per year.|
Specialty small-business grants
To help spread entrepreneurial success across demographics, many organizations focus their funding efforts on specific communities.
We’ve put together lists of:
- Small-business grants for women
- Small-business grants for veterans
- Small-business grants for minorities
Updated Jan. 10, 2018.