Running a small business can be difficult. If you want to expand your business, you will need to invest capital, and finding this money can be challenging. Women who run businesses may be eligible for a range of state-sponsored and private grants designed specifically to help women entrepreneurs. If you need a little extra money to grow your small business, consider applying for a grant.
Examples of Grants
A variety of grants are available for all types of women-owned businesses. The International Women's Media Foundation offers yearly grants to women journalists who are expanding or starting businesses that offer a unique method of delivering digital news. Three women receive these $20,000 grants annually. In addition, DigitalWomenGrants.org offers $750 grants each year to businesses that are 51 percent owned by women. The organization also offers listings of other grants on its website for women who own businesses.
Unlike loans, grants don't have to be paid back. They are a type of financial assistance given to a business by the federal government or a private agency for a specific purpose. For example, federal grants are given for nonprofit projects that have a public purpose. Organizations may also give out grants for scientific research, to support businesses owned by minorities or women, or for any other purpose that the giver deems worthy, like supporting fine arts. A grant may be given for the life of a project or it may be limited by amount or time period. Normally, a person who wants a grant either fills out an application for the funding or writes a proposal paper explaining why she's eligible for the grant. In some cases, the grant is free. In other cases, the recipient must match the grant funds before she can use them.
Where to Look
A number of resources are available to find grants that are made specifically to women who are expanding a small business. Grants.gov provides an extensive list of federal grants, including a list of agencies that offer grants. These grants are only available to businesses with nonprofit status. Although the SBA does not offer grants for women itself, it does have a search tool you can use for finding grants. Chambers of commerce are another good place to search for grants. You can go to the chamber's website or call the chamber and ask about any community grants that your city may offer for women. An Internet search for women-owned business grants might also help.
The federal government doesn't offer grants specifically for women looking to start or expand their small business. If you want a federal grant, your business will need to be fulfilling a public purpose that the grant can help with. However, even then, your business will need to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit before it can qualify. You'll have better luck looking for nonprofit organizations that provide grants to women-owned businesses.
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.