9 Grants for Black Women Entrepreneurs
As difficult as it is to get ahead in the world as a woman and a minority, the statistics show that black women defy the odds as one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs.
No matter the gender or racial discrimination they have faced in their pursuit to start their own business — they have prevailed.
In fact, African-American women hold a more significant percentage of all black-owned businesses than women of other races.
A Quick Look at the Numbers
Black women own more than 36% of all black-owned businesses, while women only own around 19% of all other companies cumulatively.
The incredible growth that black women have shown in entrepreneurship is marvelously inspiring.
They are the fastest-growing group of small business owners, showing a 67% growth from 2007 to 2012 and a 50% growth from 2014 to 2019.
Unfortunately, black women-owned businesses have also been one of the groups hit hardest by the pandemic.
To keep this sector of the economy alive, many organizations have begun to offer grants specifically for black women entrepreneurs. Others have long-standing grant programs for this group.
Surviving this shaky economy can be difficult.
1. The Amber Grant
This grant was created in memory of Amber Wigdahl, a nineteen-year-old black teen who had dreams of opening up her own business.
Amber passed before she could live out that dream, but the grant in her honor helps many young women see their business dreams come to fruition.
One of the biggest challenges that women of color face when starting their own business?
Finding the funding necessary to make real progress.
The Amber Grant awards more than $10,000 monthly to women-led business proposals that they deem worthy and $25,000 to one standout company.
This grant has been going strong since 1998, and it is not slowing down.
Not only does this organization make starting your own business as a young woman a possibility through funding, but they also share a lot of helpful information on their blog.
Curious about what they are looking for on an application for their grant?
2. SoGal’s Black Founder Startup Grant
SoGal Foundation is a global platform that states that its mission is to “close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and venture capital.”
Part of their mission involves awarding black women a grant to make it possible to see their dreams of starting a business become a reality.
SoGal partners with Twilio, Winky Lux, twelveNYC, and Bluemercury to decide on awardees of their $10,000 and $5,000 grants.
These awardees will also have access to an extensive knowledge base and mentors within the SoGal Ventures team.
This team will also help the awardees find more funding to scale their business by aiding them in the application process from start to finish.
3. NBMBAA® Scale-Up Pitch Challenge
Every year the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) holds a Scale-Up Pitch Challenge to provide a funding opportunity for their members.
Their yearly awards include a:
- 1st place award of $50,000
- 2nd place award of $10,000
- 3rd place award of $7,500
- People’s choice award of $1,000
There are eligibility requirements you must meet to apply for this grant money.
- Applicants must be a member of the NBMBAA
- At least half of the company must be black-owned
- Applicants must be 18 or over and a US resident
- Business ideas pitched must be in the early stages of development.
FedEx, StartCo, and Fiserv sponsor this challenge.
iFundWomen has a long list of grant opportunities dedicated to female empowerment. Their website even lists a variety of small business grants from other organizations across the web.
This site should definitely be a planned stop on any minority woman’s search for business funding.
One great example of the grants held out for black women entrepreneurs is the Visa She’s Next Grant Program for Black Women-Owned Businesses. This grant program awarded $10,000 grants to sixty different small business owners.
The American Express • IFundWomen of Color 100 for 100 Program is another funding opportunity especially made for black women.
5. NASE Growth Grants
The National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE) offers $4,000 business development grants to many of its members each year.
The only eligibility requirement for these grants is to be a member in good standing.
Of course, the association will review the application to determine the need and the potential impact the grant will have on the business.
6. Minority Business Development Agency
Since the grants offered by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) vary, it is best if you visit their website periodically for current business grant competitions.
To apply for a grant from the MBDA, you must first register your business. Then you need to download the application from the Grants.gov website.
The MBDA advises that you attend the pre-application teleconference of each grant before you write out your application. Doing so will help you understand the grant requirements better and improve your chances of success.
7. Build Your Legacy
The Build Your Legacy grant by Essence and PineSol offers the opportunity to have $100,000 awarded to one black woman entrepreneur.
This grant also comes with six months of business mentorship with successful businesswoman Nicole Walters. Additionally, their website offers helpful video lessons for any woman who owns a business.
8. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
FedEx is a big promoter for small businesses. Among the many grants that they sponsor with other companies and organizations, they have their own grant contest with big awards.
They award the 1st place winner of their grant contest $50,000 for their small business and $7,500 in FedEx printing services.
9. Federal Grants
Every year, the Federal Government awards millions of dollars through different grant programs.
Many small business owners are so intimidated by the seemingly complicated process of applying for federal government grants that they miss out on a lot of financial aid.
The government must have caught on to this timid response of many businesses because they have created a wealth of grant writing tips and mentorship on their online learning center.
You can read articles and even watch Youtube videos to help you understand the process and bolster your courage to apply for these grants.
How To Improve Your Odds of Being a Grant Recipient
The grant application can be tedious and discouraging if you apply for multiple grants without success for several years.
One thing is for sure:
It takes determination to keep pushing forward, and the more you apply, the better your chances of winning.
Yet, you can improve your odds of becoming a grant recipient and get your for-profit business the funding it needs through more than a numbers game.
Here are some ways you can make your grant applications hold more weight:
1. Meet the Requirements
When you search out grant opportunities, you can get a little ahead of yourself and perhaps feel starry-eyed by seeing the award amount.
However, if you don’t take the time to read through the grant requirements carefully, you may waste your time applying for a grant you don’t even qualify for.
Whenever you choose a grant, read through all the information they provide and see if you qualify.
Sometimes you may not qualify at the time but only need to become a member of the organization or make a few small changes to become eligible.
2. Comply with the Application Structure
Each grant has its own requested application structure to follow.
However, most have two parts; the application guidelines and the packaging guidelines.
In the application, you must follow their desired structure.
For example, many grant competitions will ask you to answer a few pertinent questions to help them determine the viability of your business and the goals you wish to achieve with the grant money.
If you fail to answer one of these questions, they won’t have enough information to make a proper decision.
While you want to give them a clear and concise answer, you also don’t want to leave out a good reason why they should award you this grant money.
As for the packaging, most grant applications will have precise formatting requirements and submission guidelines to follow.
It would be a shame to miss out on a grant simply because your font was wrong or your envelope was too small.
3. Don’t Be Generic
Most grants get hundreds of proposals. In order to become a recipient, your proposal must stand out.
Write out your proposal in your own words and with passion.
If you can’t convince the judges that you believe in the value of your business, how will they consider it worthy of the grant?
A great way to make your application catch the judge’s eyes is to provide visuals to your data. This can be in the form of a graph, table, or chart highlighting your business’s strengths.
4. Enlist the Help of a Professional
Not all small business owners are great writers. Even those with higher education can find writing out a grant proposal a real challenge.
As the best voice for your business, you should be actively involved in writing your proposal. That said, there is no harm in hiring a professional grant writer.
This helps to make sure that your proposals are free from grammatical errors and typos. It also will improve the flow and coherency of your submission.
You have a much better chance of winning the grant competition if your proposal is well written and concise.
5. Use Real Data to Tell Your Story
It’s great to be a dreamer, but organizations don’t hand out money simply because a company has big dreams.
Your proposal should be reasonable and have robust data to back up your plans. All grant judges will want to know how you plan on using the money and what you expect to accomplish with the extra funding.
Don’t overextend yourself by making big promises that you can’t deliver. Many grant applications are rejected simply because the proposal is far too unbelievable.
6. Research the Company or Association
Different companies or organizations will be looking for different businesses to back, depending on their overall mission.
For example, nonprofit organizations will be more likely to award their grant to a business that carries the same values that they do.
If you’re a small biz that offers technical services, you should look for an organization in that field that offers small business grants.
The more similarly aligned you are with the company or association itself, the better your chances of being one of their grant recipients.
Even if you don’t have a common bond, you can still benefit from researching what drives the company or association. Then steer your submission to better address that point.
7. Learn About Past Winners
Another way to increase your chances of making the final cut is to look at the grant recipients chosen in past years.
If you do your research well, no doubt you will find a common thread in the past recipients. You can use this knowledge to better identify what the grant judges look for and how you can be the next winner.
Women-led businesses as a whole have proven themselves to be a safer bet for investors.
A study completed by BCG and MassChallenge showed that women entrepreneurs have access to less venture capital and yet deliver higher revenue.
Despite having a more challenging time securing a small business loan or other funding types, black women entrepreneurs will continue to succeed.
Granted (a little play on words), the more help they get, the higher their chances of success will be. The higher their success — the more they can offer their valuable services and goods to the world.
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