Women in business grants and loans – Empowering Women in Business in 2024

Are you ready to explore opportunities for women in business grants and loans as we look into resources and strategies to secure financial support? Discover how these funding avenues can fuel your entrepreneurial journey and overcome challenges. Navigate the path to success with targeted grants and loans designed to empower women entrepreneurs.

Women in business grants and loans
Women in business grants and loans

Securing capital is crucial for business success, yet women-owned businesses encounter unequal challenges in obtaining financing and investments. Despite women owning over 40% of U.S. businesses in 2019, nearly 98% of venture capital for new startups went to male founders in 2020. In 2021, only 12% of women business owners received the full financing they sought, compared to 14% of male-owned businesses, according to the Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey. Additionally, that year, 80% of women business owners and 82% of male-owned businesses sought COVID-19 relief funding through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Private small business grants for women

1. Amber grant:

Tragically, Amber Wigdahl’s business dreams were cut short at 19. In 1998, WomensNet established the Amber Grant program as a tribute to the aspiring entrepreneur’s legacy.

WomenNet later expanded its program, offering grants in various categories, including marketing. The grants are distributed monthly, ranging from $10,000 to year-end grants of $25,000. The organization allocates at least $35,000 in grants monthly to standout applications from eligible women-owned businesses.

Application Process:

To apply for Amber Grants, submit your application online. A single application qualifies you for all eligible grants. The organization reviews monthly applications and announces winners by the 23rd of the following month.

2.SoGoal startup grant

The SoGal Startup Grant is designed to assist Black women entrepreneurs, acknowledging their status as the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in recorded history. Despite this, Black female founders receive less than 0.5% of venture capital funding. Recipients of the SoGal Startup Grant receive a cash award of either $5,000 or $10,000 in startup funding and professional guidance to navigate the fundraising process. This initiative aims to level the business playing field, offering Black women founders a more equitable opportunity to scale their businesses.

Application process

To qualify for a SoGal Startup Grant, you must identify as a Black woman or nonbinary entrepreneur (multiracial individuals in these categories are also eligible). Furthermore, your business must be legally registered and present a plan to pursue investor capital. Additionally, you must articulate a business idea that can scale to a billion-dollar enterprise.

3. Cartier Women’s Initiative award

Founded in 2006, the Cartier Women’s Initiative established an annual program dedicated to empowering female entrepreneurs. Women-owned or women-led businesses can apply for awards across 10 regions, with 30 grant awards (three per region). First-place awardees receive $100,000, second-place awardees receive $60,000, and third-place awardees receive $30,000.

The program also includes the Science & Technology Pioneer Award, offering amounts similar to the regional awards. Additionally, there’s the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, for which the award amounts are undisclosed.

Application process

Access the application for the Cartier Women’s Initiative regional awards online. To qualify, showcase that your business is woman-owned or woman-run and has a mission to create a significant and sustainable impact on society or the environment.

Eligible grant applicants also need to:

1. Own or run for-profit businesses.

2. Be in the early stages of development (between one to five years).

3. Demonstrate at least one year of revenue from sales (goods or services).

4. Have raised a minimum of $2 million in funding.

5. Meet at least one of the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals.

4.FedEx small business grant contest

FedEx established the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest to aid U.S. small businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Grant recipients, including the grand prize winner, receive $50,000 in checks and additional credits (up to $7,500) for FedEx Office business printing services.

Application Process:

1. Eligibility: U.S.-based small businesses (for-profit), earning under $5 million in annual sales, and having shipped goods in the past 12 months.

2. Submission: Eligible businesses can create a FedEx account and submit.

3. Voting and Announcement

Women in business grants and loans
Women in business grants and loans


Established in 2000, GrantsforWomen.org serves as an online platform facilitating women business owners in discovering and researching numerous grant and scholarship opportunities. The platform aims to empower women worldwide to realize their business-related aspirations.

Application Process:

1. Exploration: The grant application process differs across programs. GrantsforWomen.org assists in identifying grants suitable for your business.

2. Application: Once potential grants are identified, follow the specific instructions provided by individual organizations when ready to complete the application process.

6. Eileen Fisher women-owned business grant

Eileen Fisher, a women’s clothing brand with a legacy spanning over three decades, annually grants $200,000 to qualifying women-owned businesses. Individual recipients’ grants vary, ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 each.

Women entrepreneurs involved in the following areas may be considered for grant funding.

Initiatives Supported:

1. Helping women engage in decision-making processes, particularly those yielding positive environmental outcomes.

2. Promoting female involvement in a sustainable economy.

3. Educating women and girls on adapting to climate change and influencing current climate policies for the better.

Application Process:

– Access an online application when the program is active (currently suspended).

– Eligibility: Your business should be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered with the IRS (or have a fiscal sponsor), proving direct services to customers.

– Language Requirement: Ability to complete the application and follow-up interviews in English.


– Businesses aligned with specific political parties or religions.

– Academic institutions, capital campaigns, and event sponsorships.

– Organizations led by individuals who do not identify as female are not eligible for grant funding.

7. Tory Burch foundation

The Tory Burch Foundation, a renowned fashion brand, supports women entrepreneurs by offering not only $5,000 business education grants but also fostering early-stage women-owned businesses through:

1. Access to business capital

2. Expert-led workshops (live and on-demand)

3. Peer-to-peer network with collaboration opportunities among female founders

Additionally, The Women of Color Grant Program, sponsored jointly by The Tory Burch Foundation and the Fearless Fund, provides grants ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 for eligible women business owners of color.

Application process

Annually, the Tory Burch Foundation selects 50 women entrepreneurs as Fellows in its program. To qualify for grant funding, you must be a woman owning the majority stake (at least 51%) in your business. The application process involves completing and submitting the application online through the foundation’s website.

8. The Halstead grant

Silver jewelry makers, whether women or men, can consider applying for the Halstead Grant, which was established in 2006. This grant provides new artists in the field the chance to receive a $7,500 start-up grant and additional benefits to support business growth. Semi-finalists, up to five in total, may also receive smaller cash grants of $250 or $500, coupled with expert assistance in promoting their businesses.

Application process

Access the Halstead Grant application online, comprising 15 business-related questions for you to answer. Ensure you submit your completed application and design portfolio images by the August 1 deadline to be considered for the current year’s award.

9. The Girlboss Foundation grant

The Girlboss Foundation provides grants for creative female entrepreneurs in the arts, design, music, or fashion industries. Eligibility for the semi-annual grant requires having a women-owned business.

Grant recipients receive $15,000 in funding for their projects and enjoy marketing-related benefits, including features in newsletters and on social media by Girlboss.com.

Application process

Twice a year, Girlboss awards awards to creative women business owners totaling $130,000 since the organization’s inception in 2014. For details on how to apply, visit Girlboss.com.

10. National Association for the self-employed growth grants

Since 2006, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) has been presenting Growth Grants to its members, providing cash grants of $4,000 to both women and men small business owners. Grant recipients can utilize the funds for various purposes, including advertising and marketing, expanding facilities, hiring employees, or covering other business expenses.

Application Process

To apply for a NASE Growth Grant, you must initially become a National Association for the Self-Employed member. The type of membership you choose dictates whether you can apply immediately (e.g., Annual Members, Veteran Members, Silver Members Paying Annual Fees, and Gold Members) or need to wait 90 days before applying (e.g., Monthly Members and Silver Members Paying Monthly Fees).

11. Grants.gov

Grants.gov is an initial resource for women seeking business grants. It provides a comprehensive list of federal government-sponsored grants catering to women and men. The database includes grants specifically tailored for women business owners.

Application Process:

– Sign Up: Start by creating a Grants.gov Workspace account.

– Team Collaboration: Once registered, you and your team members can collaboratively edit and complete individual grant applications available in the database.

Eligibility Check:

– Before initiating the application process, ensure that you and your business meet the specific eligibility criteria outlined for each grant opportunity.

– Detailed Information: Each funding opportunity in the Grants.gov database offers comprehensive details regarding eligibility requirements.

12. Small business innovation research and small business technology transfer programs

Congress established the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, providing billions in annual grant funding. These initiatives aim to assist small businesses in collaborating with research institutions to advance sophisticated technology products, including innovations like pharmaceutical drug delivery systems or environmental monitoring devices.

Application process

While not exclusively focused on women (with women comprising between 7% and 22% of grantees depending on the program), the SBIR and STTR programs have a congressional mandate to promote women’s participation. To apply for a grant, contact a government agency with an active funding call that aligns with the projects that fall under your business idea.

13. Program for investors in microentrepreneurs

In 1999, Congress instituted the Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) to financially support community-based organizations that foster growth for small businesses, especially those from disadvantaged communities. 2023, the program anticipates allocating $8 million in funds to local organizations.

Application process

PRIME grants are not directly awarded to businesses; they are intended for organizations, such as small business assistance centers and tribal nations, to invest in their communities. To access this grant funding, you would need to reach out to one of the organizations that have received a grant, and you can find a list of these organizations on the SBA’s website.

Frequently asked questions on women in business grants and loans.

1. Who qualifies for women in business grants and loans?

– Eligibility criteria vary by program but often include factors such as ownership or leadership by women, business type, and purpose.

2. Are there grants specifically for women-owned startups?

– Some programs target women-led startups, offering financial support and resources to encourage their growth.

3. What types of expenses can these grants and loans cover?

– Funding purposes can range from startup costs and expansion to marketing, technology, and workforce development, depending on the specific grant or loan.

4. Is there a limit to how much funding one can receive?

– Grant and loan amounts vary widely. Some may offer a few thousand dollars, while others can provide substantial funding, depending on the program and its objectives.

5. How do I find and apply for women in business grants?

– Research grant programs online, visit organization websites, and follow application instructions provided by each program. Some resources include Grants.gov, foundation websites, and women-focused business organizations.

6. Can I apply for multiple grants simultaneously?

– Yes, you can often apply for multiple grants, but check individual program rules regarding simultaneous applications and funding restrictions.

7. Are women in business grants available internationally?

– Some grants extend beyond national borders, offering opportunities for women entrepreneurs globally. Research and verify eligibility for international programs.

8. What is the difference between grants and loans for women in business?

– Grants provide funds that don’t need repayment, while loans require repayment with interest. Both serve as financial support but have different terms and conditions.

9. Do I need to have an established business to apply for these grants?

– Eligibility requirements vary, and some programs cater to startups, while others may focus on established businesses. Research each program’s criteria for clarification.

10. Can women-owned businesses in specific industries qualify for specialized grants?

– Yes, some grant programs target specific industries such as technology, agriculture, or sustainable practices. Tailor your search based on your business sector.

Conclusion on women in business grants and loans

Women in business grants and loans are crucial in empowering and supporting female entrepreneurs across various industries. These financial resources provide funding for startups and established businesses and contribute to narrowing gender gaps and fostering diversity in the business landscape. Aspiring women entrepreneurs should carefully explore available programs, understand eligibility criteria, and leverage these opportunities to fuel their ventures. With a growing emphasis on inclusivity, these grants and loans serve as catalysts for innovation, economic growth, and the realization of business goals for women around the world.


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