The number of women entrepreneurs has grown tremendously over the last decade. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses report commissioned by American Express OPEN, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45% between 2007 and 2016, compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses in the U.S. Today 11.3 million women own 38% of businesses in the country. Back in 2007, women owned 29% of American businesses. Meanwhile, black women are the majority owners of 1.9 million firms, which employ 376,500 workers and generate $51.4 billion in revenues.
Despite the substantial growth of women in entrepreneurship, it’s harder for female-controlled startups to access capital to launch and/or scale their businesses. When compared with men, female founders are less likely to receive bank loans, venture capital, and angel investments. In 2015, for instance, venture capitalists invested over $58 billion in startups, but only 2% of that money went to women.
To help close the gender gap in entrepreneurship, a number of organizations are providing women with the funding they need for their businesses. Here are seven grants specially targeted to aid female business owners.
The Eileen-Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
Amount: $10,000 – $100,000
Deadline: Applications open Spring 2018
Female entrepreneurs who have been in business for at least three years can apply for the Eileen-Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant, which awards 10 women with grants of up to $100,000. To be considered, your company must be majority women-owned and women-led and promote social and environmental change. In addition, applicants cannot have earned more than $1 million in revenue in the year prior to applying.
Deadline: Applications re-open in 2018
The InnovateHER Business Challenge is a nationwide competition sponsored by the Small Business Administration that allows budding entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas in front of a live audience and judges. In 2017, the national winner received a $70,000 grant.
Amount: Up to $3,000
Deadline: The last day of each month
Each month, the Amber Grant awards $500 to a female entrepreneur planning to launch a small, local business. At the end of the year, one of the monthly winners is selected for an additional $2,500 grant. The application cutoff for the next $500 qualification grant is Oct. 31, 2017.
Smart Women Smart Money
Each year, Utah’s Zions Bank awards one $3,000 Smart Women Grant in six categories: Business, Community Development, Continuing Education and teacher support, Child and Eldercare, Health and Human Services, and Arts and Culture. Grants are open to anyone with a business proposal that promotes women empowerment or directly benefits women, low-income, or underserved populations in Utah and Idaho.
Open Meadows Foundation Grants
Deadline: Applications for the Spring Cycle: Jan. 1 to Feb. 15. Applications for the Fall Cycle: July 1 to Aug. 15
The Open Meadows Foundation awards grants on a biannual basis to women and girls with projects that promote racial, gender, or economic equality. However, the company’s operational budget cannot exceed $75,000.
37 Angels Grants
Amount: Up to $150,000
Deadline: Rolling basis
37 Angels is a great resource for female entrepreneurs and offers grants as large as $150,000.
Belle Capital Grants
Belle Capital offers various grants to women-led companies. It also helps entrepreneurs gain access to an angel investment fund to launch or expand your business.