Women-owned businesses are growing 2.5 times faster than the national average, according to a report commissioned by American Express. This means that every day, women open an average of 849 businesses!
Owning your own business can be empowering, invigorating, challenging, and exciting! So, what’s holding you back from pursuing your dreams of entrepreneurship? Often times, people cite cost as the number one deterrent.
Fear not, there are options and opportunities available that can help you bring your dreams to life. In addition to SBA business loans, unsecured loans, personal loans, and personal assets, there are several grants that have been specifically earmarked for women. Below we will examine nine of the best grants for women who are looking to start a business from scratch or buy into an established franchise system.
Nine Best Small-Business Grants for Women
This grant was launched in 1998 to honor the memory of a young girl named Amber who died when she was 19, unable to fulfill her entrepreneurial dreams. The Amber Grant offers a total of $11,000 in grant prizes to women to fund their business ventures.
Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
This grant supports women entrepreneurs that are ready to expand their business and their potential for positive social and environmental impact.
FedEx awards grants ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 to 10 small businesses each year. This money is meant to be used for printing and print services.
The Zach Grant
This grant awards $2,500 to an entrepreneur who submits a 3-minute video explaining why they started their business.
This $4,000 grant is awarded to companies that identify an ailing aspect of their business that could be resolved through funding. NASE has awarded nearly $1 million in grants since 2006.
This $1,000 grant is awarded to a current or future business owner with the most innovative business idea. The grant is intended to assist with business, marketing, and advertising costs.
Girlboss Foundation Grant Awarded on a biannual basis, this $15,000 grant is meant to aid women in their entrepreneurial endeavors. Recipients also receive exposure through the Girlboss platform and community.
This international grant offers financial assistance, business coaching, and networking opportunities to the top 21 finalists. First prize recipients receive $100,000 in prize money while the second prize recipients receive $30,000 in prize money.
InnovateHer Challenge This annual grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration is awarded to businesses with a marketable product or service that has a positive impact on women and families. In 2017, the first place winner was awarded $40,000 in grant money.
For 13 years, the Halstead Grant has awarded 10 emerging female jewelry designers in the U.S. $7,500 in cash and $1,000 for jewelry supplies from Halstead. Halstead is a jewelry supply distributor that services studio businesses around the world.
Additional Financial Resources for Women
Grants.gov is a database that offers quick access to federally available grants as well as tools such as a learning center, a workspace for applying to grants, video tutorials, and grant 101 information.
With over 100 educational centers across the US, WBCs help women — especially those women who are economically and socially disadvantaged — to start and grow their small businesses. Contact a Women’s Business Center in your state to see what grants and funding are available to you.
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) works to increase economic development by promoting innovation and competitiveness in American businesses. The EDA invests in, partners with, and offers programs to help small businesses to grow and thrive.
Grants for Women offers a comprehensive list of numerous business grants available to female entrepreneurs for whom, research has asserted, are underdogs and under-supported in business. This list also includes scholarship and education grants.
EWIF is a non-profit organization and community-led entirely by volunteers whose mission is to provide advice and guidance to women interested in breaking into the franchise industry. EWIF holds regional meetings, annual conferences, and award ceremonies for members, helping women connect and learn from each other.
The Small Business Administration is another excellent resource for entrepreneurs and for franchisees in particular – as they are more likely to grant funding to a franchise than many other types of startups; they will even expedite the loan processing for SBA-approved franchises.
Start from Scratch or Buy a Franchise?
When starting your own business, remember that you have options. One of the biggest choices you’ll have to make will be whether you want to start your business from scratch or buy into a franchise system.
A franchise often offers less risk and a faster runway to profitability due to the proven business model and franchisor support.
If you are interested in franchising, there are several organizations such as EWIF (Encouraging Women into Franchising) and 7-Eleven, among others, that are actively working to help more women achieve their dreams of business ownership through franchising.
In March, 7-Eleven announced that they would run their ‘W.E. Take the Lead’ Women’s Franchise Giveaway Contest for the second year in a row. The winning woman will be awarded an initial franchise fee-free 7-Eleven franchise for an initial franchise value fee of up to $190,000.
Similarly, there are some franchise brands, such as FASTSIGNS, that offer incentives for veterans and first responders, male or female. At FASTSIGNS that incentive equals a 50 percent reduction in the franchise fee.
You Go, Girl!
No matter which business venture you choose — be it a startup company or a franchise — the experience will empower, embolden, and encourage both you and those around you. Grant money is an invaluable asset to help you get started. There are people who want your business venture to blossom, all you have to do is apply! Easy as that.
As Ellen Latham, CEO of Orangetheory Fitness said, “Believe in yourself and your communication skills, your passion, and how hard you know you work in everything that you do in other parts of your life.” But, most importantly, she said, “Just go for it!”
If you think that franchising is the right fit for you, Franchise Business Review will be an invaluable tool to aid you in your research. We provide ratings and reviews of top franchises based on the satisfaction of their franchisees. These are then compiled into lists including Top Franchises of the Year, Top Franchises for Veterans, and Top Franchises for Women available for your perusal.