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Top 10 Business Grants for Women Entrepreneurs

Discover some of the top business grants for women business owners and entrepreneurs as we celebrate Women's History Month!
Woman business owner smiling with an apron on and customers in the background. (Top Women Grants Blog - Guidant.)

Women are making moves in business today more than ever before. In the evolving entrepreneurship landscape, women are increasingly taking the lead, bringing innovative ideas and transformative businesses to the forefront.

But here’s the challenge. According to Forbes Advisor, even though women owned more than 40 percent of businesses in the U.S. by 2019, almost 98 percent of venture capital for new startups went to male founders in 2020. In fact, only about 2.3 percent of venture capital goes to women entrepreneurs. The gap between funding to women versus their male counterparts continues to be steep. 

There’s still plenty of good news, though. There’s a host of different types of grants for women starting a business aim to bridge the gender gap in business ownership and support women in business. And the best part about business grants for women? Grant funding is free money. There are no monthly debt or related cash flow issues. They’re not loans — though many have specific grant criteria and eligibility requirements, so be sure to look out for those.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled the ten best grants and funding opportunities available. Knowing women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses face unique hurdles on their journey to success, this blog will serve as a guide designed to help bridge the financial gap.

Let’s look at the top ten grants for women business owners.

Explore our Small Business Trends Women in Business report for the latest insights and trends on women-owned businesses across the U.S.

Top Business Grants for Women

Woman sitting at her desk looks excited as she opens a letter. (Business Grants for Women Blog - Guidant).

If you’re just getting your foot in the door — or seeking more capital to grow your business — regularly applying for grant programs is a good idea. But don’t forget to read the application information carefully when applying for a grant. Many grants have very specific eligibility requirements, such as the sector and the number of years the business has been operating. (You only want to spend time and effort applying for a grant if you’re eligible to win it!)

Let’s look through some of the top current grants designed especially for women entrepreneurs — with resources and know-how to find grants to meet your business needs and ideas.

Ready to become your own boss — but don’t know where to start? See 10 Steps to Starting a Business for a breakdown of everything you need to know to get your business off the ground.

1. Amber Grants

The application for Amber Grants is one of the most flexible among small business grants for women offering a variety of grant awards year round. Named after Amber Wigdahl, a young woman who tragically died before realizing her business dreams, the program aims to honor her memory — and support aspiring and current women business owners.

WomensNet, the founders of the Amber Grant, gives two $10,000 grants every month and two year-end grant funds of $25,000 each. Plus, there’s also a startup grant available for very early-stage small businesses and a grant for nonprofits, both of $10,000. The application automatically makes you eligible for all available Amber Grants related to your business.

To apply, applicants write short essays explaining their business idea and what they plan to do with the grant funds. The program advises “speaking from the heart” and emphasizing “what matters to you” when applying. 

2. Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award aims to empower women entrepreneurs worldwide by awarding grants to women across ten regions.

The program provides substantial funding to the winners, with the first-place awardee receiving $100,000, the second-place awardee receiving $60,000, and the third-place awardee receiving $30,000. Plus, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards are accompanied by a year-long mentorship program and networking opportunities with industry experts, making it one of the largest initiatives to support women entrepreneurs.

Recently, the initiative developed the Science & Technology Pioneer Award to fund women-led scientific and technological innovation. The award is open to all women entrepreneurs from any country and sector.

Note: These grants have an extensive list of eligibility qualifications so be sure to read the fine print!

3. Wish Local Empowerment Program

The Wish Local Empowerment Program dedicates $2M to give about 4,000 Wish Local small business partners financial support through grant funds. The grants are specifically for Black-owned female small businesses to help promote equality and diversity.

Who is Wish Local? Wish is a mobile shopping app with more than 500 million shoppers worldwide.

Applicants who are chosen and receive the grant can expect anywhere from $500 to $2,0000 to help rebuild their small business.

Requirements aren’t specific, but winners are encouraged to apply the money toward keeping their workforce employed, paying rent or operations costs, connecting with new customers, or providing opportunities for their community.

4. Tory Burch Foundation Fellows

Fashion brand Tory Burch funds women entrepreneurs with grants through the Tory Burch Foundation. It offers $5,000 business grants to 50 successful applicants to its Fellows program every year, along with an array of educational programs and peer networking.

To be eligible to apply for a Tory Burch Fellowship, you must be a woman entrepreneur who owns the largest (or equal) stake in a company majority owned and run by women. The company must show a minimum of $75,000 in annual revenue and be an early-stage company (from one to five years of operation). It must operate in the U.S. or its territories.

5. Eileen Fisher Women-owned Business Grants

The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant program was established in 2004 by the Eileen Fisher clothing company to support women-owned businesses focused on creating positive social and environmental change. Each year, the program awards $200,000 in grants to up to ten recipients. Individual grant sizes range from $10,000 to $40,000. Recipients will also be able to meet other past grant recipients and Eileen Fisher team members at a three-day gathering in New York City.

Applications can be submitted by existing companies, not startups, that are either owned or led by women. Awardees can use their grant prize for business-related expenses in expanding their businesses.

While applicants can come from multiple industries, they must also be dedicated to creating positive social and environmental impact. Learn more about the program and its status here.

6. FedEx Small Business Grants

Every year, FedEx awards ten grants of $30,000 each to small business owners to enhance their businesses. While many women have won a FedEx grant, this program is available for all American business owners with a category specifically for U.S. veteran candidates.

This year, ten grant recipients received $30,000 with an additional $20,000 from USAA Small Business Insurance — along with other services offered by FedEx, including $1,000 print credit at FedEx Office®, access to FedEx Premier Customer Service, mentor matching, and more.

To be eligible, you must have a shipping need for your business and a FedEx business account number the business has used for at least six months. Your business must be for-profit and employ less than 99 employees (including yourself and part-timers).

The application process has firm entry dates, generally early in the calendar year. There’s an extensive voting process, with final winners announced in the spring.

7. Second-Service Foundation

The Second-Service Foundation supports veterans, military spouses, and gold star families in their small business pursuits.

The foundation supports the military community and encourages applicants to apply for its grants. To qualify, applicants will need to perform a three-part “Military Entrepreneur Challenge,” which entails speed coaching, private pitch sessions to a panel of judges, and an opportunity to pitch to a live audience.

The Second-Service Foundation focuses on underserved military members, helping them receive grant money and access resources and support.

There is a five-step application process, which involves creating a business one-pager, applications for the pitch competition, and a 2-minute pitch at the Military Entrepreneur Challenge event. The process can be cumbersome, but there are multiple grant opportunities, so if you’re a female military family member, this option could be right for you.

8. Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition

If you’re a shoot-for-the-stars type of entrepreneur, look no further than the Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition. This grant offers women-owned businesses with “growth potential of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars” up to $25,000 in cash grants.

This high-level grant competition awards multiple grants and has no annual revenue requirements. There is an application fee, however, and it’s time-consuming, so dedication is required.

The payouts are generous: In 2023, the Women Founders Network awarded $55k in cash grants and more than $100,000 in professional services. In fact, in addition to cash grants, winners may receive:

  • A pitch coach
  • Access to a financial mentor
  • Professional services
  • Discounts on products and services
  • Alumni community
  • Private pitch events

The categories are broken out between tech-enabled B2B and B2C businesses and consumer/other/non-tech products and services.

9. Ladies Who Launch

In addition to its catchy name, Ladies Who Launch offers $10,000 to business owners who sell consumer packaged goods like apparel and food. There is a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion with a focus on non-binary small business owners. The program exists “to remove barriers to access that prevent them from succeeding,” according to its website.

Ladies Who Launch is a well-rounded program: Besides the $10,000, grant recipients will receive mentorship from industry experts and a half year of free education.

Your small business will need to meet annual gross revenue requirements of between $100,000 and $499,000 per year, and there are fundraising limitations with this supportive organization.

10. The Halsted Grants

Some grants for women business owners are focused on very specific sectors. The Halstead Grant, designed for emerging jewelry artists who work in silver, is one of them. For over 40 years, the Halstead Grant program has supported many jewelry artists in gaining a foothold in this challenging field — aiming to create a steady flow of talent and creativity within the industry.

The winning recipient receives $7,500 in cash, $1,000 in merchandise, and jewelry industry recognition. Additionally, smaller grants may be available to runners-up.

The Halstead Grant is given once a year, with a deadline in the spring. For the application process, you must submit a portfolio and answer multiple questions about the business.

If you happen to be a jewelry artist aspiring to open a business, this grant is for you. Remember: Look into more niche grants tailored to your unique interests — you never know what you might find!

Looking for more business financing opportunities? Check out the 7 Best Options for Small Business Funding.

Funding Your Future: Grant Research Tools

Woman smiling at her laptop with business items in the background. (Business Grants for Women Blog - Guidant).

As you can see, there are plenty of grant options for women entrepreneurs. These grants seek to provide more funding opportunities for women looking to start or grow their businesses — and help pave the way for future women-run and women-owned businesses. 

And these grants barely scratch the surface of what’s available. In fact, these programs show how diverse the grants universe is. Some require very specific and detailed business plans and goals, and others are very open-ended. Some provide additional benefits, such as opportunities for visibility and business mentoring; others provide just the cash.

So out of the whole grant universe, how do you find grant opportunities for your small business? Regularly searching for funding opportunities you’re eligible for and interested in is key! Several online resources offer searchable databases of grants and more. Here are some of the best places to start your research: 

  • GrantsforWomen.org offers an alphabetically searchable database developed by the Center For Women’s Business Research and the business publication Entrepreneur. It contains both grants and other forms of funding, including scholarships. The website also offers articles and other informational resources on running a business, funding, and bulletins about upcoming grants.
  • The website ifundwomen.com is an online funding marketplace for women-owned small businesses. They offer access to information about business grants, coaching, and networking. 
  • Grants.gov, established in 2002 as a part of the President’s Management Agenda, is an E-Government initiative operating under the governance of the Office of Management and Budget. Not only does Grants.gov have an intuitive advanced search with numerous grant opportunity categories, but it also provides a wealth of information on grants and the application process. 

Happy searching!

Ready to be inspired? Check out Breaking Barriers: 5 Women Entrepreneurs You Should Know.

Empowering Women in Business 

Woman business owner holding a tablet and smiling inside a clothing store. (Business Grants for Women Blog - Guidant).

At Guidant Financial, we’re in the business of empowering small businesses. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to grow, we offer a range of business financing solutions and services to help you succeed. 

Our expertise in flexible funding sources, such as Rollovers for Business Startups (ROBS) or SBA loans, allows us to provide customized financing solutions for your business. We take an education and people-first approach, ensuring your unique needs are met. 

Since 2003, Guidant has helped fund and support over 30,000 small businesses — including thousands of women-owned businesses. Let our decades of experience benefit you and your business goals!

Call us today at 425-289-3200 for a free, no-pressure business consultation to get started — or pre-qualify in minutes for business financing now!

Daniella Cornue, a smiling woman with black long hair. Owner of Le Village Co Work, a small business in Chicago.

“I knew that I needed a funding partner that would be a reflection of the community we are trying to serve — and that is really where Guidant shines.”

Daniella Cornue, Le Village Cowork

Read the stories of REAL small business owners who work with Guidant.

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