Small-Business Grants for Women 2022: 5 Programs with Free Money for Women
Data as of 10/13/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Want free money for your business? Of course you do. Fortunately, small-business grants offer just that.
And while other types of business financing (like loans) can’t set aside money specifically for women, plenty of grants can and do. So if you’re a female business owner, there are grants meant just for you.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best small-business grants specifically for women and women-owned businesses. We’ll tell you what makes them great and help you decide whether or not you should apply.
- : Best business grant for women overall
- : Best for business development
- : Best for business education
- : Best for nonprofits
- : Best for Asian-led nonprofits
Grants for women small-business owners
Women's Net Amber Grant
Cartier Women's Initiative
|$30,000–$100,00||For-profit, early-stage businesses led by women||Annually||Visit Site|
Tory Burch Foundation
Female business owners earning at least $75,000 in annual revenue
Boston Women’s Fund
|$10,000/yr. for 5 yrs. or $15,000|
Women-led organizations supporting social and economic justice
Asian Women Giving Circle
|Up to $15,000|
Arts and culture organizations led by Asian American women
Data as of 10/13/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
How to find other grants
We’ve rounded up some of the best small-business grants for women, but there are tons of other grants out there. (You can see some of them on our guide to startup business grants and our list of the best business grants for minorities.)
For example, you might want to look for local grants. Your local chamber of commerce might have some leads. Universities might be another place to ask. Do you have a local women’s business center? Look there. Basically any place that you’d do networking might help you find grants for local businesses.
If you don’t find anything local, you can look for grants related to other characteristics you have. Are you self-employed? Then apply for a grant from the National Association for the Self-Employed. Were you or your spouse in the military? Then you can try to get a StreetShares Foundation grant.
The point is, you should look for funding opportunities that have specific enough requirements that you’ll have less competition. That way, you can boost your odds of getting the money.
Amber Grant: Best overall business grant for women
The Amber Grant might be the best-known grant program for women business owners, and for good reason.
Unlike other grants that accept applications for only a small part of the year, the Amber Grant always accepts applications. That’s because it rewards new grants every month, whereas most grants have an annual award. Those two facts make the Amber Grant more accessible than most.
Plus, the Amber Grant doesn’t require a complicated application, and it doesn’t have many applicant requirements. Just about any female entrepreneur can apply (as long as you’re not a nonprofit). And you only have to answer a couple of questions about your business and what you’d do with the money. Easy peasy. (Yes, you should take time to answer carefully. But it’s still easier than other applications.)
Now, the Amber Grant is the only grant program on this list that has an application fee. You have to pay $15 to apply. That fee helps keep the grant fund going, so it’s probably a worthwhile $15. Still, it’s something to be aware of.
You should also know that Amber Grants aren’t the biggest grants out there. In 2021, grant recipients get $10,000 (up from just $2,000 in previous years). At the end of the year, one of those recipients will get an additional $25,000 grant. But for most recipients, it’s just the one-time $10,000.
So no, the Amber Grant is not the biggest, and it’s not entirely free. But with few restrictions on who can apply and one of the easiest applications we’ve seen, the Amber Grant is our favorite small-business grant for women.
Cartier Women’s Initiative: Best for business development
Some business grants for women focus on specific projects, but the Cartier Women’s Initiative focuses on you and your role as an entrepreneur and leader.
That’s likely why the grant size ($30,000 for 14 runners-up and $100,000 for 7 winners) is so large: the Cartier Women’s Initiative isn’t just trying to fund one project—it’s trying to help you and your business thrive. So in addition to that grant money, you also get leadership training, peer learning, strategy mentoring, and more―everything you need to level up your entrepreneurial skills.
Clearly, the Cartier Women’s Initiative can give you a lot. But it also asks for a lot from you. Your business needs to be “early stage” while also producing revenue for at least one year―but you can’t have raised more than $2 million in equity-based funding (like venture capital). You’ve also got to submit an application that includes a pitch deck, résumé, video, and more. Plus, if you get selected, you have to commit to spending four hours per week on grant-related activities.
As you can see, the Cartier Women’s Initiative grant is not for the faint of heart (and you can find even more criteria on its website). Still, if you can qualify, the rewards are well worth the effort.
Tory Burch Foundation: Best for business education
Much like the Cartier Women’s Institute, the Tory Burch Foundation wants to help you become a better businesswoman through money and longer-term learning opportunities.
That said, the Tory Burch Foundation’s Fellows Program has a stronger emphasis on formal education. For example, the $5,000 grant component must be used strictly for business education purposes (such as courses, conferences, and workshops). Likewise, its learning opportunities lean more toward workshops than peer learning.
One advantage the Tory Burch Foundation gives you? The chance to pitch to investors. Up to 50 women will get selected for the program and grant. And of those 50, 10 will ultimately get a chance to pitch their business to investors.
Put simply, the Tory Burch Foundation won’t let you fund a project or general business expenses. But if you want to level up your own business knowledge, it can help you do exactly that.
Boston Women’s Fund: Best for nonprofits
You have to have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to qualify for a grant from the Boston Women’s Fund. If you’ve got one, though, this multi-year grant is a great opportunity.
Unlike other grants that just give you a lump sum of money, the Boston Women’s Fund offers a long-term grant. That means you can get $10,000 over five years, for a total of $50,000. (Runners-up can get a one-time $15,000 grant). That makes this grant perfect for funding the kinds of long-term programs typical to nonprofits.
Keep in mind that the Boston Women’s Fund does have some specific criteria for applicants and grant usage. As you’d expect for a women’s grant, the Fund awards the grant to nonprofits led by women and girls. But it’s not just leadership the Fund cares about―the nonprofit should work with women and girls (specifically those from marginalized groups).
To apply, you’ll have to submit plenty of details about your nonprofit organization, your proposed program, and your budget. In other words, it’s a significant investment of your time―but one that could pay off for years to come.
Asian Women Giving Circle
We like the Asian Women Giving Circle grant, but it’s incredibly niche.
As the name implies, the grant goes to organizations led by Asian American women (or individual artists who can get a nonprofit sponsor). Not just any organizations, though―they’ve got to be 501(c)(3) nonprofits based in New York City. Furthermore, they have to pitch a project that uses the arts to send a message about social justice for Asian American women and girls. Like we said, pretty niche.
But if that describes you and your goals, then you might get one of eight grants awarded annually. Just budget some time for your application, as it’s pretty involved.
If you’re a business owner looking for free money for women, the Amber Grant is your best bet. It’s open to both for-profit and nonprofit businesses, has a monthly grant cycle, and has few applicant restrictions.
Women business owners looking for business development help maay like the Cartier Women’s Initiative, while business owners who prefer business education will like the Tony Burch Foundation. Many types of nonprofit businesses can get excellent grants from Boston Women’s Fund, while the Asian Women Giving Circle offers great grants to nonprofits led by Asian-American women.
Of course, you shouldn’t count on getting grant money (the competition is too stiff). But if you meet the eligibility requirements for grants on this list (or for other grants you find), then you should take the time to apply.
After all, someone’s going to get that award money. Why not you?
Grants are great, but you shouldn’t put all your funding eggs in one basket. Find out more about alternative options by learning how to apply for a business loan.
Business grants for women FAQ
Now that you’ve seen our favorite small-business grants for women, let’s take a second to talk about the pros and cons of grants and how to find other grant opportunities.
Do grants really give you free money for your business?
It’s true that grants give you free money you don’t have to pay back. More specifically, you don’t have to repay the funds like you would with a business loan, and you don’t even have to give up equity like you would with investors.
That said, your money may come with some strings attached. For example, the funds are often earmarked for very specific uses. So if you get a grant for a project, you have to use the money on only that project, even if you have other needs. In comparison, something like a business line of credit offers much more flexibility.
What are the requirements to get a business grant?
Specific applicant requirements vary from grant program to grant program. But while grants often have very specific requirements (as you may have noticed in our reviews above), those criteria usually have more to do with what kind of business you have.
For example, you may need a nonprofit business that tackles environmental issues, or a grant program may only accept for-profit businesses in fashion.
Grants usually don’t require you to have a certain personal credit score or make hundreds of thousands in revenue like many business loans would. That makes them more accessible than other types of business financing.
How likely am I to win a grant?
Your odds of winning a grant vary depending on the grant program and its requirements―but know that grants are very, very competitive. Everyone wants free money, after all.
So you’re competing with loads of other women business owners as you try to get a grant. And with all that competition, you have no way of knowing whether or not you’ll actually get the grant. In contrast, business loans usually have clear criteria that make it possible to predict whether or not you’ll get approved.
Put simply, you cannot count on getting grant funding for your business. You should be pleasantly surprised if you get one and not hopelessly disappointed if you don’t.
What are some good alternatives to business grants?
If your business needs money but you can’t get a grant, you can check out these alternative options instead:
We researched dozens of grant programs to find ones meant just for women-led businesses. We then ranked our finalists based on grant cycle frequency, grant amounts, application criteria, and other factors.
We’ve got some bad news: Lots of grant programs have ended in the past year or so, including two of our favorite grant programs for women entrepreneurs (from the Girlboss Foundation and Eileen Fisher, to get specific). We’ll keep an eye for additional grant opportunities and update this page as we find them.
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