5 Best Small Business Grants for Women in 2021

Finding funding for any small business can be difficult, and for female entrepreneurs, the task can be uniquely challenging. Fortunately, there is free money for women-owned small businesses available. If you’re interested in finding a small business grant for your women-owned business, keep reading for the top small business grants for women.

You can also read our full list of the best small business grants.


Top Small Business Grants for Women

Small business grants are funding for businesses that don’t have to be repaid. To obtain these grants, an application must be submitted by a business or organization that meets the criteria. The first step to obtaining a small business grant is to find the right one for your business.

While there are many different grant options available, applying for the grant that best aligns with your business increases your chances of being awarded the funding. To make it easier to decipher which grant is right for you, we’ve broken down the top small business grants for women based on a three criteria approach.

Our Approach:

Choosing the best business grant comes down to three things:

  1. The type of business you have
  2. The needs of your business
  3. What you want for the future of your business

Our Top 5 Business Grants for Women:

  1. The Amber Grant is the best overall small business grant for women. The Amber Grant is awarded monthly, with one of the monthly winners receiving additional funding annually as well.
  2. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant is the best small business grant for women dedicated to positive change. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant is for small businesses that make a positive social or environmental change.
  3. The Cartier Women’s Initiative offers the best grant for newer women-owned businesses. The Cartier Women’s Initiative offers a grant for 21 female entrepreneurs across the globe with businesses between one and three years old.
  4. The Open Meadows Foundation offers the best grant for women entrepreneurs who promote activism. The Open Meadows Foundation provides grants to women-led projects that work to promote gender, racial, and economic justice.
  5. The Halstead Grant is the best business grant for women in the jewelry industry. The Halstead Grant rewards woman-owned jewelry businesses that are less than three years old with funding and credit for jewelry supplies.

Are you a female entrepreneur? Check out our comprehensive guides and resources for women in business!

Best Overall Business Grant for Women: Amber Grant

Grant amount: $10,000-$35,000

In 1998, WomensNet established the Amber Grant Foundation in memory of an aspiring entrepreneur whose life was cut short. Since then, the foundation awards a woman-owned business $10,000 every month, with one of the twelve winners that year receiving an additional $25,000.

With the Amber Grant, women-owned businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs have the opportunity to explain and articulate their business goals to compete for the grant each month of the year.

To apply for an Amber Grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:

  • Applicants must be a women-owned business.
  • Applicants must be located in the US or Canada.
  • Applicants must submit a $15 application fee.

Pros

  • Applying for the Amber Grant is easy, with the only requirement being to tell the foundation about yourself and your business dream. No difficult application process or large amounts of application paperwork.
  • If you are one of the monthly winners, your loyal customers can vote for your business to receive the extra $25,000 annual grant.
  • There is no requirement for the type of business you operate or would like to operate in order to win this grant.

Cons

  • This a highly sought-after business grant, making the application process competitive.
  • There is an application fee to compete for this grant.

Best Grant for Positive Change: Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant

Grant amount: $10,000-$40,000

Eileen Fisher is a designer and entrepreneur with a fashion empire dedicated to producing garments made ethically out of sustainable materials. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant provides funding for businesses dedicated to providing a direct service to their communities that make a positive social or environmental impact.

In addition to this, the grant is awarded to businesses that create opportunities for women to participate in decision making, fight climate change, and work within the sustainable economy. For women-owned businesses that work to create positive change, qualifying for this grant is attainable and beneficial for continuing the philanthropic work you are doing.

To apply for an Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:

  • Applicants must provide a direct service.
  • Applicants must be a 501(c)(3) certified nonprofit or a business with a fiscal sponsor.
  • Applicants must prove their business makes a positive social or environmental impact.

Pros

  • This grant rewards businesses that are not only owned by women but that also focus on providing opportunities and services for women.
  • With multiple winners, your chances of obtaining grant money from this source are higher than grants offered to singular applicants.
  • You can reapply annually for this grant.

Cons

  • You must obtain 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal sponsor in order to apply for this grant.
  • Businesses that identify with a specific political party or religion aren’t able to apply for this grant.

Best for Newer Women-Owned Businesses: Cartier Women’s Initiative

Grant amount: $30,000-$100,000

Since 2006, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has provided grants for 21 women-owned and operated businesses annually across the globe. Applicants are separated into seven regions, with one winner from each receiving $100,000. The second and third winners of each region receive $30,000.

For newer women-owned businesses, this grant offers an exciting prospect of funding without having to fit into a specific industry like many other grants.

To apply for a Cartier Women’s Initiative grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:

  • The business must be women-owned and women-operated.
  • Applicants must be for-profit businesses.
  • Applicants must be within the first one to five years of business operation.

Pros

  • This grant is available to female entrepreneurs across the globe.
  • In addition to the regional grant, Cartier Women’s Initiative offers a Science & Technology grant for qualified applicants.
  • In addition to funding, the regional grant winners receive training, mentorship, and other educational opportunities.

Cons

  • Because of the wide range of possible regional applicants, competition is high for this grant.
  • The application process is time-consuming and requires a variety of materials in order to qualify for the grant.

Best for Women Entrepreneur Activists: Open Meadows Foundation

Grant amount: Up to $2,000

The Open Meadows Foundation is a grant-generating organization that awards grants for projects and organizations that promote racial, gender, and economic justice. For this reason, this is a great funding opportunity for women-led nonprofits and projects. Grants from this foundation are available for up to $2,000 and must be put toward projects that benefit women and girls as well as contribute to the goal of social justice.

To apply for an Open Meadows Foundation grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:

  • Businesses or organizations must be 501(c)(3) certified or have a fiscal sponsor with the certification.
  • Projects must be led by women and girls and benefit women and girls.
  • Applicants must have revenue or income that is less than $75,000.

Pros

  • The type of projects that are accepted varies greatly, allowing activists of all kinds to apply.
  • Because eligibility requirements are strict, there are fewer competitors, so the chances of receiving funding are higher.
  • This organization is dedicated to funding projects and organizations that are working toward positive change.

Cons

  • There are many requirements for applying to this grant that will limit the number of eligible applicants.
  • Preference is given to early applicants rather than the type of business or project.

Best for Women in the Jewelry Industry: Halstead Grant

Grant amount: $7,500 plus $1,000 in Halstead jewelry supplies

The Halstead Grant is available to women-owned jewelry businesses with $7,500 available in funding as well as $1,000 in Halstead jewelry supplies. This is a unique grant opportunity for businesses in the jewelry industry to seek funding to increase the industry’s diversity and provide more opportunities for underrepresented communities.

To apply for the Halstead Grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:

  • Applicants must be women that are pursuing a full-time career in jewelry design.
  • Applicants must operate businesses that make jewelry, not outsource production.
  • Applicants must have been in business for less than five years.

Pros

  • This grant’s requirements are specific to women-owned jewelry businesses, which means competition will be lessened.
  • Winners receive a good amount of money toward supplies to successfully operate their business.
  • In addition to funding, Halstead offers a multitude of business resources for businesses to use

Cons

  • Women-owned businesses that aren’t in the jewelry industry cannot apply for this grant.
  • Applicants can only reapply three times. 

Final Thoughts

Small business grants for women make getting free money for your business a possibility. If you’re a women-owned business or thinking of starting your own business, there is funding available to you that will help start or support the business of your dreams.

The most important thing to remember when applying for grants is to select the grants that most closely match your business model and submit a thorough application that meets all criteria.

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