by Beth Kotz
While there has been a substantial increase in the number of female-operated businesses in recent years, obtaining funding for women-led organizations continues to remain difficult. A recent report released by the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship committee concluded that most women still have a much more difficult time securing traditional lending compared to their male counterparts.
To challenge this discrepancy, women can benefit greatly by obtaining a small business grant which will help fund extra expenses while they manage the company’s daily operations. Here are just a few grants that can aid women entrepreneurs as they continue to focus their complete attention on the growth and success of their company.
Open Meadows Foundation
The Open Meadows Foundation offers grants to women that developed projects focusing on gender, racial, or economic justice. The organization seeks to award applicants with ideas that promote building community power among women and girls.
Applicants must be women with limited financial access. The organization provides grants of $2,000. Eligible women should visit the organization’s website to apply. The fall application cycle is July 1st to August 15th and the spring cycle is January 1st to February 15th.
Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Businesses Grant
One of the most popular grants benefiting female entrepreneurs is the Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant. The purpose of this well-known grant is to award $12,500 to women-owned businesses that have revenues of less than $1 million. Only five women are chosen each year.
In order to qualify for this grant, your business must have been in operation for at least three years, and its mission must be to support environmental and social change. While the exact dates are tentative, the applications are open to eligible women in April and May of each year. Visit the website for more specific details.
The Amber Grant was founded in 1998 to help women accomplish their business goals. The application process is simple. Applicants just need to share their business ideas from the heart. Interested women with businesses should also be able to answer this question “What are your plans for the awarded funds?” The judges are seeking authentic voices that are a true representative of the applicant.
After paying an application fee of $7 you can apply directly on the organization’s website. The program will select one qualifying female entrepreneur each month for a $500 award.
The Halstead Grant is only available to women who own a jewelry-making business. Established by Halstead president Hilary Halstead Scott, the grant is offered to female designers who have a clear business plan that details measurable steps to achieve their goals.
Not only will the recipient of the grant be awarded $7,500, the winner will also receive a $1,000 Halstead gift and a trophy. The application is due August 1st of each year. Download the application here.
The InnovateHER Challenge
For the past couple of years, The InnovateHER Challenge has strived to recognize products and services that have a tangible effect on women and families. The federal grant is available to any gender, but the business must improve the lives of women.
Offered by the Small Business Administration, business owners may apply for this government grant on the InnovateHER website. The top three contestants will be awarded a combined total of $70,000 in prizes.
Idea Cafe Small Business Grants
The Idea Cafe Small Business Grant was created for men and women who have a business that resolves an everyday issue. The majority of the winners of this grant have been women. Even though the grant is available to everyone, this a perfect grant for women who own a relatively new startup.
The grant awards $1,000 to the contestant with the most innovative business idea. The winner will also receive a lot of free publicity and national recognition. The free, quick, and easy application can be found here.
Tory Burch Foundation
In 2015, the Tory Burch Foundation launched a program that will offer 10 female entrepreneurs the chance to receive expert mentoring, business education, and networking opportunities through a one-year fellowship program and three-day workshop at Tory Burch.
The company will showcase thirty businesses on its website so that the public can select their favorite entrepreneur. One fellow will be chosen to receive a $100,000 investment. Applications are currently open. Visit the Tory Burch Foundation’s homepage to apply now.
Local and Federal Grants
Federal and local grants are another great alternative to traditional lending options. For those who are seeking state and local grants, consider checking websites like the Women’s Business Centers, Economic Development Agencies, and Small Business Development Center. You never know what might turn up, and with thousands of dollars in grant funding going unclaimed each year, it pays to check persistently.
Women in business face numerous challenges that men do not. Financing a small business is no easy feat, and if you’re trying to change the game while playing to win, it helps to have some assistance along the way. Use the resources above to get started and don’t hesitate to ask for help — there are plenty of strong female entrepreneurs eager to give a leg up to the next generation.
Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues to live and work.