Get your small business a leg up with these grants.
- There are thousands of different federal, state, local, as well as private foundation grants available nationwide.
- Grants.gov offers funding opportunities of more than $500 billion annually.
- There are grants available for veterans, women, minorities, and more.
Starting a small business is no easy feat. In addition to the countless hours of planning and preparation, you also need to find the funding to get your business off the ground. Luckily, there are a number of places you can look for small business grants. There are federal, state, and local grants, as well as private foundation grants. Each type of grant has different eligibility requirements, so it’s important to find one that fits your needs. Here are 10 of the best places to start your search.
The Grants.gov program management office was established in 2002 and is a centralized location for grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. Grants.gov has over 1,000 grant programs, offering the most comprehensive database of free government money. Federal agencies post discretionary funding opportunities that amount to more than $500 billion annually.
Based on the type of business you have, there are dozens of different federal grants offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Institutes of Health. Visit the respective websites to learn how to qualify for these grants.
2. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA provides a number of programs and services to help small businesses get started and grow. One of the ways they do this is through grants. While the SBA does not provide direct grants, they do partner with a number of organizations that offer grants to small businesses. If your small business is engaged in scientific research and development, you may qualify for federal grants under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. To learn more about SBA grant programs, visit their website or contact your local SBA office.
3. Fedex Small Business Grant Contest: For small businesses
Fedex has awarded more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes to over 100 small businesses since 2012. The contest awards unique and innovative small businesses. In 2022, nearly 18,000 small businesses entered the contest. Any eligible for-profit small business that has been in business for at least six months, has a FedEx shipping account number, has fewer than 99 employees, and has a shipping need for their business is eligible to enter the contest.
4. Amber Grant: For women
WomensNet founded the “Amber Grant” in 1998 in honor of Amber Wigdahl, who died at just 19 years old before realizing her business dreams. WomensNet gives away at least $30,000 every month in Amber Grant money. They have also expanded their grant-giving to include “Marketing Grants,” “Business Category Grants,” as well as two “$25,000 Year End Grants.” Submitting one application makes you instantly eligible for all grants. They announce the grant winners by the 23rd of the following month.
5. Second Service Foundation: For veterans
The Second Service Foundation, formerly the StreetShares Foundation, helps create capital opportunities for military veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs who are looking to start or grow a business venture. Through their Military Entrepreneur Challenge, the 1st place winner receives $15,000 as well as $50,000 in pro bono legal services.
6. The Minority Business Development Agency: For minorities
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that promotes the growth of minority-owned businesses. One of the ways they do this is by providing access to financing, including grants. To learn more about MBDA grant programs, visit their website or contact your local MBDA office.
7. IncFile’s Young Entrepreneur Scholarship Grant: For students
This grant is for high school senior, undergraduate, graduate, or trade school students. The winner will get $2,500 to put towards their education. Applicants need to create a short, two-minute video telling IncFile how entrepreneurship will impact their life and submit a sample business plan.
8. Fresh Start Business Grant: For startups
This grant is for an entrepreneur to receive $2,500 to put toward business start-up costs. They will also receive free formation services from IncFile. IncFile’s Gold plan includes ($385 value) incorporation services in your state, free Registered Agent services for a year, and a free tax consultation. Applicants need to create a short, two-minute video telling IncFile how entrepreneurship will impact their life and submit a sample business plan.
9. The National Association for the Self-Employed
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is a membership organization that provides a variety of resources and services to self-employed individuals and micro-businesses, including grant opportunities. One example is their Growth Grants program, which provides financial assistance of up to $4,000 to help businesses grow and create jobs. Since 2006, the NASE has awarded nearly $1,000,000 to its members.
10. Local chambers of commerce
Your local chamber of commerce is a great resource for finding small business grants in your community. Many chambers offer programs and services specifically designed to help small businesses, including grant opportunities. To learn more about grant opportunities through your local chamber of commerce, visit their website or contact them directly.
Free business training and resources
There are also plenty of free consulting services and training programs that small businesses can access. SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. They offer a number of resources and services, including free mentoring sessions with experienced business professionals.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide counseling and training to small businesses, including working with the SBA to develop and provide informational tools to support business startups and existing business expansion. Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are designed specifically to help women start and grow their businesses.
These are just a few of the thousands of different grant programs available. By doing some research and reaching out to local organizations, you should be able to find several potential sources of grants for your small business. Most organizations have websites that provide detailed information about their programs and how to apply. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, you can begin the process of applying for the grant. Depending on the type of business, the owner, and location, there are plenty of grants geared towards a diverse group of small business owners.
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