According to Bloomberg, research has shown that African-American entrepreneurs face discrimination when they apply for small business loans through traditional banks. Some grant programs seek to offset these issues with grants for these businesspeople. However, grants can be difficult to come by and the field for such grants is competitive. Entrepreneurs should be prepared to look around for grant programs that meet their needs and prepare to make a good case for why their businesses are worthy of grant funding.
Make a Business Plan
African American entrepreneurs looking for black minority business grants or any other type of financing should start with a polished, professional business plan. This document helps guide the direction of a company, such as the business structure, customer attraction and retention, marketing budget and growth projections. It also helps entrepreneurs make a case for why their companies should qualify for black minority business grants.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) has a site dedicated to helping African American and minority entrepreneurs with the basics of starting a business, including a how-to section on writing business plans. Visit SCORE's website for more information.
Search for Black Minority Business Grants
Start out a grant search by visiting the website for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a branch of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that helps start and grow minority-owned companies. One of the MBDA's primary goals is helping companies with access to capital.
The agency has a page on its website that lists grant-related websites and organizations—on a national basis and for each state—that can provide a starting point for entrepreneurs looking for black minority business grants
Visit SBA.gov, a website that was created by the federal government to help small business owners find information that can help them start and grow their companies. SBA.gov includes a page where entrepreneurs can search for financing (including grants for black business owners) that cater to minority-owned businesses.
Small business owners should go to the website and enter search criteria for their companies. This will help them to locate grant and loan programs that can assist African American entrepreneurs. Beware that the SBA does not offer startup grants - it only provides information in this regard.
National Minority Supplier Development Council
Talk with a local branch of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), an organization that offers procurement and business opportunities for minority-owned companies. Many states have their own chapter of the NMSDC or a similar organization that is affiliated with the NMSDC, which can help African American entrepreneurs find financing programs in their area, including grants if such programs exist locally.
Visit the NMSDC website to learn more about the council. Search for local chapters that can help with information on grants for young black entrepreneurs.
Study Success Stories
Look for previous awardees and see what kinds of businesses they proposed. Whether the grant is specifically for African-American business owners or not, you can study previous winners to see what made their bids so appealing.
For example, the 2018 FedEx Small Business Grant winners include several companies that seek to change something about their industries and those who demonstrate genuine love for their craft. If your business falls into one of these categories, this grant could be a great fit.
A Word of Caution
It is commonly thought that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) gives grants to help entrepreneurs start their companies, but this is false. The federal government does provide small-business grants for high-tech research and development, and the SBA's grant programs are reserved for nonprofits, governments and other entities that provide small business assistance. It is advised that entrepreneurs avoid paying for information that claims to give access to federal start-up grants, since such funding does not exist.
Sheena Harrison is a writer and editor who specializes in covering entrepreneurship and business issues. She has been a professional journalist for 7 years, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.