For a female owner of a small business or startup, there are a number of key things to focus on, especially finding funding for the business to get it off its feet and help it succeed and grow. There are a number of grants available and many that specifically target women entrepreneurs.
In 2014, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States reached just over 9 million. This is a clear illustration that female entrepreneurs are impacting the small business landscape, nationwide, in a tremendous way. To remain competitive and grow, entrepreneurs must have the money and the resources. The alarming fact is women entrepreneurs are regularly and more frequently being denied small business loans. And while there are several other possibilities for funding, grants are among the best because they do not have to be paid back.
It is important to note the federal government does not provide any grants for starting or expanding a business. Grants issued by the government require strict adherence to a list of highly specified guidelines and extensive reporting measures to ensure the money is being spent appropriately. Government grants are given only to non-commercial organizations such as nonprofits or education-focused institutions. It is likely most women business owners are required to seek out and apply for more private types of grants for funding. Five private grants are outlined below.
The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program
Each year, the Eileen Fisher grant program gives out five awards. Among other requirements, the businesses must be entirely owned by women. The businesses must have fundamental principles that include social consciousness, full sustainability and constant innovation and creativity. The businesses that receive these grants must also be prepared with concepts and plans for expansion. The average amount per grant is generally around $25,000.
Huggies MomInspired Grant Program
The Huggies MomInspired Grant Program, administered by the Huggies Corporation, awards up to $15,000 to help women advance and further develop products and services innovated through the process of motherhood. Those who receive the grants are then awarded additional resources to further the development process of products and services and to aid moms in their startup businesses.
InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge
This business challenge is held every year and is sponsored by the Small Business Administration(SBA) Office of Women’s Business Ownership. Prize money is awarded to small businesses that have a significant and sustained impact on the daily lives of women. During the challenge, a variety of primarily women-owned businesses vie for one of three $30,000 prizes available. Candidates are required to develop some form of presentation that accurately and effectively represents their businesses and the impact their businesses have on the lives of women.
Mission Main Street Project
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Google collaborated to offer $3 million in total grants. In 2014, small businesses that received these grants were each given $150,000 to further develop and expand their businesses to allow them to have a maximum effect on the community in which they were located. Along with the grant money, recipients were also given a tour of Google headquarters and a Google Chromebook laptop.
37 Angels is actually a group or community of female angel investors that reviews thousands of applications from small businesses primarily owned by women. These investors focus on businesses that are female-friendly or female-oriented; however, the primary focus is choosing businesses that have a great deal of promise, express innovation and creativity, and are able to withstand expansion successfully. Applications can be submitted at 37angels.com to win the ability to pitch for funding from $50,000 up to $200,000.
Written by Julia Hawley of Investopedia