Small-Business Grants for Women 2022: 5 Programs with Free Money for Women

We’ve found the best business grants specifically for women entrepreneurs.
Best overall
Womens Net
Women's Net Amber Grant
Grants up to
$25,000
  • pro
    Monthly award cycle
  • pro
    Applications open now
Best for biz development
Cartier Womens Initiative
Cartier Women's Initiative
Grants up to
$100,000
  • pro
    Annual award cycle
  • pro
    Applications open Spring 2022
Best for biz education
Toryburch
Tory Burch Foundation
Grants up to
$5,000
  • pro
    Annual award cycle
  • pro
    Applications open now
Best for nonprofits
Boston Mutual
Boston Women's Fund
Grants up to
$15,000
  • pro
    Award cycle unlisted
  • pro
    Next application opening unlisted
Best for Asian-led nonprofits
Asian Woman Giving Circle
Asian Women Giving Circle
Grants up to
$15,000
  • pro
    Annual award cycle
  • pro
    Applications open Spring 2022

Data as of 10/13/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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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.

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Before we get started
We want to be clear that it can be really hard to get a grant. Most of them (including most grants on this list) have ultra-specific application criteria and usage requirements. And competition is very stiff. So after learning about our favorite grants for women, stick around for some advice about finding more grants as well as alternative ways to fund your business.

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Qualifications:

Money Approach

$50k in revenue

Calendar Approach

6 mos. in business

Analysis Approach

560 credit score


Grants for women small-business owners

Organization
Grant amount
Open to
Application cycle
Get started
$10,000–$25,000

Women entrepreneurs

Monthly

$30,000–$100,00For-profit, early-stage businesses led by womenAnnually
Toryburch

Tory Burch Foundation

$5,000

Female business owners earning at least $75,000 in annual revenue

Annually

$10,000/yr. for 5 yrs. or $15,000

Women-led organizations supporting social and economic justice

Unlisted

Up to $15,000

Arts and culture organizations led by Asian American women

Annually

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

Amber Grant
Womens Net
Women's Net Amber Grant
  • con
    Grants from $2,000–$25,000
  • pro
    For-profit and nonprofit businesses
  • pro
    1 grant winner per cycle

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.

Yes
pro You’re happy with a smaller grant.
pro You can make your case through writing.
pro You’re in the US or Canada.
No
con You want a smaller applicant pool.
con You prefer a formal pitch.
con You don’t want to pay an application fee.

Cartier Women’s Initiative: Best for business development

Cartier Women's Initiative
Cartier Womens Initiative
Cartier Women's Initiative
  • con
    Grants from $30,000–$100,000
  • pro
    For-profit businesses only
  • pro
    21 grant winners per cycle

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.

Yes
pro Your business has been around for 1 to 5 years.
pro You want training and mentorship.
pro You are the primary leader for your business.
No
con You’re a nonprofit.
con Your business isn’t earning revenue yet.
con You don’t want a long-term commitment.

Tory Burch Foundation: Best for business education

Tory Burch Foundation
Toryburch
Tory Burch Foundation
  • con
    Grants of $5,000
  • pro
    For-profit businesses only
  • pro
    Several grant winners per cycle

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.

Yes
pro You’re interested in education and networking.
pro You’ve made at least $75,000 in revenue over the past year.
pro You want a chance to pitch to investors.
No
con You’re a nonprofit.
con You just want grant money.
con You want the grant to fund a specific project.

Boston Women’s Fund: Best for nonprofits

Boston Women's Fund
Boston Womens Foundation
Boston Women's Fund
  • con
    Grants from $15,000–$50,000 (over five years)
  • pro
    Nonprofit businesses only
  • pro
    Several grant winners per cycle

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.

Yes
pro Your nonprofit has 501(c)(3) status.
pro Your organization is run by women.
pro You have a specific program you want to fund.
No
con Your organization is not tax exempt.
con Your yearly budget is over $500,000.
con Your program budget is over $250,000.

Asian Women Giving Circle

Asian Women Giving Circle
Asian Woman Giving Circle
Asian Women Giving Circle
  • con
    Grants up to $15,000
  • pro
    Nonprofit businesses only
  • pro
    Up to 8 grant winners per cycle

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.

Yes
pro You’ve got a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or get sponsorship from one.
pro You have a specific project in mind.
pro Your project deals with Asian American women and girls.
No
con Your project is not based in New York City.
con Your project doesn’t have a social justice component.
con You don’t have a track record of completing projects.
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The takeaway

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.

Related Reading

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:

Methodology

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.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Chloe Goodshore
Written by
Chloe Goodshore
Chloe covers business financing and loans for Business.org. She has worked with many small businesses over the past 10 years, from video game stores to law firms. Those years watching frustrated business owners try to sift through their many options gave her a passion for breaking down complex business topics. She wants to help business owners spend less time agonizing over their businesses so they can spend more time running them.
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