11+ Small Business Grants for Minorities
The initial stages of starting a business are challenging to say the least. If the startup is a minority-owned business, the challenges seem to multiply. This is especially true when it comes to getting financing from lenders.
Some financial institutions do offer small business loans, but if they don’t think your business plan will work, they won’t approve you for the loan.
Finding a lender who sees the same vision that you have for your business can be tough.
To avoid this challenge, small businesses owners can take advantage of grant opportunities to help boost their working capital from the get-go.
Some grant programs are established specifically with minorities in mind, even requiring proof of minority ownership.
1. Small Business Innovation Research Grants/Small Business Technology Transfer Grants
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) grant were created to give small businesses the opportunity to do research and development work for the federal government.
This competitive, award-based program pushes small businesses to see just how far they can improve in their technological and research development.
If your small business is in the early stages of collaborating with a nonprofit research group to develop groundbreaking technology, these grants are the best way to procure seed money.
Both SBIR and SBTT grants are offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA has long advocated for the support of small and minority-owned businesses, so be sure to check their website to stay abreast of any new grants they’re offering.
2. Comcast Rise Grant
The Comcast Rise Grant is a program created to provide small businesses with the resources and tools needed to survive the effects of the pandemic.
The eligibility requirements for both are simple:
- The business must be more than half-owned by a person of color (African American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian).
- This business must be independently owned and running for more than a year.
- It must also be located within Comcast’s service area.
There are actually two different types of prizes, depending on which aspect of the program you apply to.
If you’re in need of cash flow, you should apply to the Investment Fund. If you need technology and expert advice on how to use it, they offer a Marketing Services and Tech Makeover prize.
Here’s more info:
Every entrepreneur could use a little more business funding. The Comcast Rise Investment Fund gives out $10,000 to small businesses across the country.
Each grant cycle, Comcast limits eligibility to businesses working in six U.S cities.
In the 2022 cycle, those cities are as follows:
- Houston, Texas
- Miami, Florida
- Seattle, Washington
- Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
- Washington, DC
- Oakland, California
However, the 2021 cycle was open to businesses in:
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Chicago, Illinois
- Detroit, Michigan
- Houston, Texas
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
So stay tuned and check back each year — you never know when your city will cycle back!
Marketing Services and Tech Makeover
The recipients of these grants will gain access to an array of marketing resources:
- Free advertising consultations
- Resources to create a thirty-second commercial in a professional studio
- Media spots to air that commercial for 90 days
The award also includes top-of-the-line computer equipment, and free internet, technical assistance, and cybersecurity services for one year.
All of the above tools and resources can certainly help a struggling small business to get some footing.
If you meet the qualifications listed above, visit their application page to apply.
3. Rebuildtheblock Small Business Relief Fund
Rebuildtheblock is a business liaison that works diligently to provide funding opportunities for Black-owned small businesses. Their Small Business Relief Fund aims to help businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Your business must meet the following criteria to be eligible:
- Small, Black-owned business in the United States
- Launched before January 1, 2020
- Impacted by the pandemic and/or suffered looting-related damage
The RBT Small Business Relief Fund runs in three-month cycles, giving business owners four grant opportunities each year.
There is no set grant amount for this relief fund. Each of the fifteen recipients in each cycle is awarded monetary relief based on need and impact.
If you meet the eligibility requirements listed above, click this link to apply.
Also, check out this article to learn about more pandemic relief grants: Is Your State Offering Back to Business Grants?.
4. Kinetic Business Black Business Support Fund
Kinetic Business by Windstream offers grants of up to $2500 to support Black-owned small businesses. These grants also come with free internet and business consultations.
This grant is for a very specific demographic. For eligibility, your business must be located in one of these three locations:
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Lexington, Kentucky
Your business must also meet the following criteria:
- Fewer than 26 employees
- Not currently involved in bankruptcy proceedings
- Not a: nonprofit organization, liquor store, check-cashing agency, adult entertainment business, gun store, CBD store, or pawn shop
If you receive a grant, your business must continue to meet these requirements for the duration of your one-year grant period.
Also, you can only apply on behalf of one business. Previous recipients are not eligible to reapply.
If you are a Black small business owner and meet all of these eligibility requirements, you should definitely apply for this grant.
5. National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grant
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) offers $4000 in grant money for annual NASE members.
To apply for this grant, you must be a NASE member. Once you’ve signed up, you can fill out the grant application and submit a business plan for consideration.
Applications are accepted throughout the year and reviewed quarterly. The board will review submitted applications and choose the recipients based on need, potential, and the anticipated impact the grant will have on your business.
Related: Are Grants Always Better Than Loans?
6. NBMBAA Scale-Up Pitch Challenge
This challenge, facilitated by the National Black MBA Association, gives members a chance to secure a helpful sum of business financing and mentorship from successful investors.
The prizes are awarded for the following amounts:
First prize: $50,000
Second prize: $10,000
Third prize: $7,500.
There is also a People’s Choice award of $1,000 that is voted on by the general public.
Only NBMAA members are eligible to apply for this grant. Applicants must represent a business in which at least one of the owners is Black, and the business must be in the initial stages of business development.
To enter this grant competition, start by becoming a member of the NBMAA.
How to Pitch Your Idea to the NBMAA
As the contest’s name suggests, the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge revolves around a pitching process, in which entrants explain their business to a panel of judges.
Your pitch should discuss:
- Who the target market is
- What value the product/service adds to customers’ lives
- What sets the product apart from competitors
- How it will generate revenue
- How much revenue they expect in the first year
Each business gets three minutes to deliver their initial pitch, which must be accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. The pitch segment is followed by a three-minute Q&A session with the panel of judges.
As the organization states on its website, the goal of the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge is to “help members create businesses that are scalable.” So if you decide to apply, be prepared to discuss your plans for scaling with the panel.
7. Rural Business Development Grants
This grant was created by the USDA to support the advancement of rural small businesses.
If you aren’t sure if your business is located in a rural area,
check to see if your area qualifies here.
There is no set amount to be awarded, but those requesting smaller grants are given priority.
8. FedEx Small Business Grant
Nine years ago, FedEx created the Small Business Grant Contest as a way to give back to the community and support economic development across the United States.
The grand prize is $50,000, with an additional $7500 in FedEx supplies and printing services.
The second-place winner gets $30,000 and $5000 in FedEx printing services.
Each year there are ten third-place winners. Each will receive $15,000 and $1500 in FedEx supplies.
The company also maintains a Small Business Resources page on their website, which is an entire section dedicated to helping small businesses stay competitive.
This page offers e-commerce tools, networking opportunities, support from successful business owners, and much more.
9. Asian Women Giving Circle
The Asian Women Giving Circle is a group of successful Asian women entrepreneurs who want to be a source of encouragement and support for other Asian women who run small businesses.
This project awards several grants each year, with a maximum grant amount of $15,000.
To be eligible for this grant, businesses must be led by an Asian American woman. The business must share the Giving Circle’s goal of using arts and culture to improve social and economic conditions for Asian American women and families.
You can apply for this grant on the AWGC’s Request for Proposals page.
10. Coalition to Back Black Businesses Enhancement Grants
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses offers grants for black-owned businesses that meet the following requirements:
- Employ 3-20 people
- Located in a distressed community
- Impacted financially by COVID-19
These grants are awarded in the amount of $5000. Recipients who show extraordinary promise are considered for an additional $25,000 grant.
Applicants who apply in September will hear the announcement in October, making it a quick decision.
This coalition also offers online resources and mentorship to help struggling Black-owned businesses recover from the financial impact of COVID-19 and any other obstacles.
You can apply for this grant directly on their Resources page.
11. Sephora Accelerate Grant
This year’s Sephora Accelerate Grant focuses on women of color who are doing amazing things in the world of beauty and wellness.
First, the applicants win a six-month, all-expenses-paid trip to a business “boot camp,” where they receive mentorship from industry leaders and participate in workshops related to:
- Product development
- Investment strategy
- Supply chain operations
- Inventory planning
- … and much more
Upon completion of the program, grant recipients get to have their products featured on the shelves of Sephora stores across the world.
Grantees also receive a small financial award and the opportunity to secure more funding, depending on how their products perform in the store.
Start the application process on the Sephora Accelerate website!
Bonus: Google For Startups Black Founders Fund
Google is doing their part in helping new black small business owners succeed online by providing them with an opportunity to win up to $100,000 in cash and extra help in the way of Google ads and Google Cloud credits.
The Black Founders Fund by Google for Startups is open to those who have participated in the Google for Startups programs or have been nominated by someone who has.
Places to Find More Small Business Grants
In addition to the specific funding opportunities described above, there are plenty of websites designed to help you find small business grants and business development programs.
Here are a few such sites:
This website is a database frequently used by those listing and searching for federal grants. There are hundreds of grants and assistance programs to apply for in the Grants.gov database.
To make it easier to find those specific to your needs, locate the Eligibility dropdown menu on the left side of the page and select the “Small businesses” box.
You can also search for specific terms to filter the results even further.
It is wise to check back periodically, as this database is the primary source of information about grants offered by many local and federal government agencies.
Minority Business Development Agency
The MBDA is an association dedicated to supporting minority entrepreneurs through financial opportunities.
This website will not provide you with specific grant opportunities, but it does help you to learn how to apply for grants. You can also visit one of the MBDA business centers for face-to-face help with your business.
First Nations Development Institute
The First Nations Development Institute is dedicated to improving the living conditions of Native Americans.
They periodically offer grants to businesses that improve economic conditions for Native American communities across the country. They award several grants every year.
To date, this organization has awarded over $43 million in grants that support development efforts to areas inhabited by Native American tribes and people.
Native American Business Development Institute Grant
This institute awards yearly grants ranging from $25,000 to $75,000. There can be anywhere from 20-35 grants opportunities per year.
It is important to continue to check their website for a “Notice of Funding Opportunity.” This is where the Institute lists many of its grants.
If you’re a minority business owner, these grants deserve your attention.
Sure, it may take some time and energy to fill out the applications and follow the guidelines outlined above, and you are never guaranteed to receive an award.
However, if you are chosen as a grant recipient, imagine the possibilities this financial assistance could bring to your business.
Small business loans are available to give you a line of credit, but these often come with high interest rates, especially if your credit score isn’t the best.
As a minority business owner, your persistence and perseverance in finding alternative funding may be the very thing that takes your business from surviving to thriving.