While most grants to women- or minority-owned businesses come from nonprofits and educational institutions, the U.S. government offers two resources -- the Small Business Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency -- to help you research grants in both the public and private sectors. In general, private organizations offer grant programs with much narrower target groups, those whose missions are consistent with their own. The key to winning grants is to select an organization closely aligned with your business goals and write a grant application to showcase why your business would help the funder as much as it would help you.
Contact organizations devoted to helping businesses owned by women or minorities for assistance in locating specific grant programs that will focus on your area of business. The Small Business Administration has local offices and runs the Office of Women's Business Ownership. The Minority Business Development Agency is another government-sponsored organization that offers help locating specific resources.
Select grant-making programs that match your business or professional goals. Research the organization's background and grant-awarding history to see what programs it has funded in the past so you can be sure your business meets the requirements. Read news releases about the organization and the businesses that have received grants from it.
Download all necessary forms and instructions for writing your grant application. Collect required information and contact the organization if you need additional help or instructions. If you're new to the process, grant-making organizations often are willing to offer assistance.
Write your grant proposal. Include all specific information required by the funder, and emphasize why your business meets its goals and can carry out its mission. This is where your prior research will pay off. Address all specific questions or requirements to prove your business is minority- or women-owned and include professional biographies for members of your executive team.
Include your business model and plan, providing a detailed explanation of how you intend to use the grant money. Attach any additional required material and follow the directions for submitting the application to the organization. If required, include a cover letter or introduction.
Check out the National Minority Supplier Development Council, which strives to connect large corporations with minority-owned suppliers. The council is not a grant-making organization, but it can help with business networking opportunities, which could result in new clients or advice for additional grant sources.
Obtain certification as either a women-owned or minority-owned business for additional opportunities for government contracts. Programs run by individual states and the Minority Business Development Agency allow you to compete for special government contracts geared toward these types of businesses.
Keep in touch with the grant organization throughout the application process and respond immediately if it requests additional information.
Understanding the motivations of the grant funder and addressing the goals of the funder over your own personal, business or professional goals increases your chances of obtaining funding.
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Find Grants for Women Owned Businesses?
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Grants
- WomanOwned: Funding Opportunities Available for Women Business Owners
- Minority Business Development Agency
- Entrepreneur Magazine: Minority Loan and Grant Programs
- More Business: Government Funding for Small Business: Grant Funding
- College of William and Mary: Guide to Proposal Planning and Writing
Naomi Smith has been writing full-time since 2009, following a career in finance. Her fiction has been published by Loose Id and Dreamspinner Press, among others. She holds a Master of Science in financial economics from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in political economy from the University of California, Berkeley.