There are a number of reasons that women seek business grants. Women who own small businesses are often interested in grant opportunities to help grow their business. Other women may be interested in starting their own business and are looking for business start-up grants. There are several avenues women can pursue to obtain business grants.
Government grants for women in business are available for a variety of purposes. Many federal grant opportunities are open to women business owners. To determine your eligibility, simply review the federal Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for a particular grant program. The notice is available from the funding agency as well as the Federal Register. Near the beginning of all NOFAs, eligible entities are defined.
Small business grants for women are available from several sources. At the federal level, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs provide opportunities for women-owned businesses to develop innovative ideas into marketable concepts. Business grants are awarded in multiple phases with each successive phase dependent upon the outcome of the previous phase. The first phase is short-term, usually six months, and focuses on preliminary research and development of applicable prototypes. Phase II is geared toward the commercialization of the concept. Combined, these grants can result in over $1 million infused into the business.
Women can also find grant opportunities at the state and local levels. State government grants for women in business are tied to job creation and technology innovation. Women who own small businesses can get grants for major equipment purchases as long as the purchase results in additional jobs being created. Grants may have predetermined job creation thresholds. For example, for every $50,000 in grant monies awarded, at least one job must be created.
Women interested in business start-up grants should look closer to home. Business incubators and nonprofit economic development organizations provide financial support to women starting businesses. Support includes grants, business plan review, mentoring, and networking. These granting organizations typically serve geographic regions that span multiple counties. They focus on business growth to support local economies.
Another local funding source is the chamber of commerce and other networking associations. These grants will be smaller in amount but may have fewer restrictions. They can be used for any number of purposes that support the operation of the small business.
Some foundations may offer special grants to encourage women to start their own business or for current women business owners. These foundations may focus on women’s issues or foster entrepreneurial activities. Grants may be available for training or other activities that help women effectively run a business.