27 Small-Business Grants for Women: Free Funding in 2023

Business grants for women can help you grow your business for free, as opposed to small-business loans or other types of debt-based funding that you must pay back. But competition for small-business grants is fierce, and it takes considerable time and effort to win them. 

If you’re up for the challenge, though, grants can be a great way to fund your new or existing business. Here are 27 places women entrepreneurs can look for small-business grants and other free financial resources.

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Some private corporations and organizations offer business grants for women. Here are some to consider:

1. Amber Grant

Every month, WomensNet awards a $10,000 Amber Grant to a woman-owned business in a specific, rotating category. Additionally, the organization awards a second $10,000 monthly grant to a woman-owned business and a quarterly $10,000 grant to one startup and one nonprofit. At the end of each year, two of the 12 general grant winners and one of the industry-specific grant winners are awarded an additional $25,000. 

The application is relatively simple: Explain your business, describe what you’d do with the grant money and pay a $15 application fee. The foundation’s advisory board chooses the winners, looking for women with passion and a good story. Businesses operating in the U.S. and Canada are eligible.

Because there’s no time in business requirement, companies seeking startup business grants for women may want to prioritize the Amber Grant.

2. IFundWomen Universal Grant Application Database

IFundWomen is a grant marketplace that specializes in funding and coaching for women-owned businesses. You can submit one application and when IFundWomen adds a grant from an enterprise partner, it will match the partner’s grant criteria to applications within the database.

If your business is a match, you’ll receive a notification and invitation to apply. Previous grant partners have included companies like Visa, Neutrogena and American Express.

3. SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant

The SoGal Foundation — along with company sponsors like Bluemercury, Twilio and others — offer startup grants to businesses owned by Black women or Black nonbinary entrepreneurs. Grants are available in amounts of either $5,000 or $10,000.

Awardees also receive fundraising advice, with a focus on investor financing, and lifetime access to the SoGal Foundation team. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so you can apply on the SoGal website at any time.

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4. Atomic Grants

The Atomic Grant program offers $1,500 microgrants to women business owners. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, with grants awarded quarterly. Recipients also receive one-on-one strategy coaching sessions.

5. The Freed Fellowship Grant

Each month a woman or person of color small business owner can receive a $500 micro-grant from the Freed Fellowship. Monthly grant recipients are also eligible for a $2,500 annual grant. Applications are rolling,

6. She’s Connected by AT&T

She’s Connected by AT&T is open to U.S.-based small-businesses that are women-owned and have fewer than 51 employees. The grand prize winner will receive a $20,000 grant and a year of free AT&T service alongside a new device. The deadline to apply is August 31, 2023.

7. Fearless Strivers Grant Contest

The Fearless Fund, in collaboration with Mastercard, offers $20,000 grants to businesses owned by Black women through the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest. The winners also receive digital tools to help them get and sustain their businesses online and one-on-one mentorship with a Mastercard small-business mentor.

The Fearless Fund runs a national grant program, as well as city-specific grant contests in Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Dayton, Ohio; Los Angeles; New Orleans; New York City; and St. Louis. To qualify for this small-business grant, you must have a U.S.-based business, 50 or fewer employees and have made $3 million or less in annual revenue in the past year. Applications close on August 31, 2023.

8. Publish Her Business Impact Grant

Businesses that 100% owned by women of color are eligible to apply for this program, which will award a $5,000 grant. Your business must have been established for at least one year and generate at least $50,000 in revenue. Applications are accepted from June 1-August 31, 2023 and the grand prize winner will be announced in October.

9. High Five Grant for Moms

The Mama Ladder organization — along with co-hosts Proof, Belly Bandit and Caden Concepts — offer an annual small-business grant specifically for moms. This grant, called the High Five Grant, is designed to support women caregivers with child(ren) of all ages, including first-time expecting moms, stepmoms and foster moms.

Entrepreneurs can submit an application online and share the story behind their business on social media. Finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges and then a public vote will determine the top three winners. The top business will receive a $25,000 grant, the runner up will receive a $10,000 grant and the third place finalist will receive $5,000. Applications are open from September 1-30, 2023.

10. You Glow Girl Women Entrepreneur Grant

Entering its third year, the You Glow Girl grant is open to female entrepreneurs. Previous winners received $10,000 grants and participated in a mentorship program. Applications open on October 19, 2023.

11. Enthuse Foundation Pitch Competition

Started in 2019, the Enthuse Foundation’s Annual Pitch Competition is open to female entrepreneurs. Participants pitch their business at an in-person event. One grand prize winner receives a $10,000 grant and a runner-up wins $5,000. The 2023 cycle will open later this year.

12. The Kitty Fund Mother-Led Business Grant

Launched in 2020, the Kitty Fund Mother-Led Business Grant offers micro-grants to businesses founders who identify as mothers. Your business must have between two and 50 employees, be U.S.-based and have revenue of $5 million or less. Applications for the next cycle will open in March 2024. You can pre-register now on the website.

13. FedEx E-commerce Learning Lab

A collaboration between FedEx and Accion Opportunity Fund, the FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab is a five-month program for female or people of color e-commerce business owners. In addition to a $5,000 business grant, the program offers e-commerce courses and workshops, online sales support and order fulfillment, as well as networking and coaching opportunities. To be eligible, your business must have been in operation since at least January 2023, have earned less than $500,000 in 2022 and produce and sell a shelf-stable, legal, packaged product. The most recent cycle closed on June 30, 2023.

14. Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition

In its 11th year, the Fast Pitch Competition from the Women Founders Network is open to U.S. businesses founded by women. To be eligible, your business cannot have raised more than $750,000. Selected participants pitch their businesses in person and winners receive $25,000 grants. Applications for the 2023 cycle closed on May 31.

15. Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards

Every year, Cartier awards three grants to women-owned businesses in nine different regions around the world. The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards program is designed to support early-stage businesses that are focused on a range of social, economic and environmental development issues.

The first-place business is awarded a $100,000 grant, second place receives $60,000 and third place gets $30,000. Winners also receive executive coaching and the opportunity to participate in a variety of training workshops. Applications for the most recent cycle closed on June 30, 2023.

16. Women of Color Grant Program

Organized by the Tory Burch Foundation and the Fearless Foundation, the Women of Color Grant Program awards $10,000 or $20,000 grants to 75 businesses owned by women of color annually. Applications for this cycle’s program closed in April 2023 and recipients will be notified in July.

17. Launch Program by Ladies Who Launch

Currently in its fourth year, the Launch Program run by the Ladies Who Launch is open to women and nonbinary small business owners. Recipients receive $10,000 grants, mentorship from industry experts and six months of business education. The 2023 application cycle closed in March.

Although these options aren’t specifically for women, they’re good small-business grants to consider for any entrepreneur.

18. America’s Top Small Business Award

Rebranded in 2023 as America’s Top Small Business Award, this annual grant from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is open to all small business owners. To be eligible, your business must have been in operation for at least one year, you must have fewer than 250 employees and your gross revenue for both 2021 and 2022 must have been below $20 million. One grand prize winner will receive a $25,000 grant. Applications close on July 21, 2023.

19. National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grant

Every quarter, the NASE awards up to $4,000 to up to four small businesses via its growth grants. These funds can be used for a variety of business needs, including marketing, advertising and hiring employees.

To apply for this grant, you must be a NASE member in good standing for at least three months. Annual members can apply at any time.

20. Incfile Fresh Start Business Grant

The Incfile Fresh Start Business Grant is open to entrepreneurs who are just starting their business. To be eligible you must be a U.S. resident who is at least 21 years of age. Grants are awarded three times per year and applications for the next cycle close on September 30, 2023. Each cycle, one winner will receive a $2,500 grant as well as free business formation services from Incfile.

21. Fast Break for Small Businesses

These $10,000 grants — funded by LegalZoom, the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League and managed by the Accion Opportunity Fund — are available twice a year. Winners also receive LegalZoom services worth up to $500. You can sign up on LegalZoom’s website to be notified when applications open.

22. FedEx Small Business Grant

FedEx awards up to $30,000 apiece to 10 small businesses annually. One veteran-owned business from among those 10 winners can receive an additional $20,000 from USAA Small Business Insurance. Winners also receive money to use toward FedEx Office print and business services.

The application requires an explanation of your business, how you’d use the money, photos of your business and — this part is optional — a short video explaining your business. To be eligible, you must operate a for-profit business with fewer than 99 employees and at least six months of operating history. Applications for the next cycle will open in early 2024.

23. Comcast RISE

Comcast awards $10,000 grants to businesses owners several times per year. Each Comcast RISE Investment Fund application cycle is open to entrepreneurs in specific target cities. You can also apply for “marketing services and tech makeovers,” which don’t include cash prizes but can still help your business grow. Applications for the 2023 cycle have closed.

24. Halstead Grant

The Halstead Grant is an annual award for entrepreneurs looking to break into the silver jewelry industry. The winner receives a $7,500 startup grant, as well as $1,000 in jewelry merchandise. Five finalists and semi-finalists also receive $250 or $500 and help with promoting their businesses.

Both men and women-owned businesses are eligible for this small-business grant. To apply, you must answer 15 business-related questions and submit a design portfolio. Applications for the 2024 cycle are open now and will be accepted until May 1.

Some federal government grants for small-business owners are designated for specific purposes, such as research and development projects, or for businesses in rural areas. Government grants typically can’t be used for startup costs or day-to-day expenses.

25. Grants.gov

Grants.gov is a database of federally sponsored grants, including grants for small businesses. Although these grants are not exclusive to women-owned businesses, this database is a great place to start if you’re looking for free financing.
To apply, you must obtain a Unique Entity ID for your business (a 12-character alphanumeric identification number), register to do business with the U.S. government through its System for Award Management website and create an account at Grants.gov.

To view grants specifically for small businesses, filter the results on the left side of the page under “eligibility.”

26. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs

The SBA facilitates these two competitive programs, which provide grants to small businesses that contribute to federal research and development. Eleven federal agencies — including the departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Health and Human Services — post business grant opportunities on their websites. You can search current grant opportunities on the SBIR website.
To qualify, you must operate a for-profit business with no more than 500 employees and meet other eligibility requirements.

27. Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME)

Although the SBA coordinates some grant programs, the agency doesn’t typically offer grant funding directly to small businesses. With the PRIME program, however, the SBA provides federal grants to microenterprise development organizations so that they can offer training, technical assistance and coaching to disadvantaged small-business owners.
These grants are available to nonprofit, private, state, local or tribal-run organizations, including those that focus on working with women-owned small businesses. The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, for example, was awarded a $200,000 grant in 2022.

Because federal small-business grants are limited in number and often very competitive, you may have better luck seeking out grants for women at the state and municipal levels. You’ll have to do your own research to pinpoint specific grant programs in your area, but here are some places to help you get started:

Women’s Business Centers

Economic Development Administration

Small Business Development Centers

There are hundreds of SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Centers around the country, typically housed at colleges and universities. SBDCs offer free, one-on-one business consulting, such as help with developing a business plan, researching markets and finding financing — including grants, business loans and crowdfunding.
Some SBDCs offer training on certification programs like the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program and Minority and Women Business Enterprise Certifications. These programs can help businesses level the playing field when competing in the public and private sector.

Minority Business Development Agency Centers

The MBDA operates a network of business centers across the country that are designed to help minority business owners access capital, secure contracts and develop financial strategies. Your local MBDA business center can work with you to identify the right financing options for your business, including federal, state and private small-business grants.

The MBDA also runs the Enterprising Women of Color Initiative, or EWOC, to support minority women in their business endeavors. The EWOC provides access to resources, events and other opportunities for women minority-owned businesses.

Alternatives to small-business grants

Finding and applying for business grants can be difficult, as well as time-consuming. If you don’t qualify for certain grants — or simply want to explore other ways to fund your women-owned business — here are some avenues to explore:

Fund your dreams with a small-business loan

If grants aren’t available for your business right now, check out NerdWallet’s picks for the best small-business loans and compare your options.