Federal, state and local governments together with the private sector's supplier diversity and educational sponsorship initiatives, offer various incentives, loans, loan guarantees and grants directly to women and minority business enterprises. Federal and state agencies also provide tax credit and capital gains tax waiver inducements to investors buying into minority-owned businesses.


To qualify for assistance, applicants must become certified through the Small Business Administration or by other approved private sector organizations, such as the National Minority Supplier Development council or its 35 affiliates across the country. According to the SBA's female-owned small-business program guidelines, the business should have at least 51 percent female ownership with day-to-day operations managed by one or more women who are U.S. citizens. The firm must also meet the SBA standard as a small business in its primary industry.

Federal Assistance

To increase the availability of small and minority business loans, Congress passed the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, which authorized $30 billion of additional funding to be made available through community banks to small businesses that can meet local bank borrowing standards. To stimulate small and minority lending, the Small Business Administration will guarantee bank loans that meet SBA guidelines. Specific inducements for small business investors under this new legislation include higher SBA loan limits, loan fee waivers, capital gains tax exclusion and doubling the start-up expense limitation to $10,000.

State Aid

State support for female/minority business enterprises ranges from no special assistance, some help through income tax credits to minority-owned business investors, to a full range of financial assistance programs. For instance, Ohio gives fixed, low-interest loans to certified minority and women business firms and, where needed, will also provides job completion surety bonds to help the minority firm bid on state building, procurement or service contracts that require bonding. To encourage local banks to lend to small Ohio companies, the state participates with lenders and borrowers to set aside reserves which lenders can access to offset any loan losses. Female business owners should check with their state's business development agencies for specific financial assistance programs.

Private Sector Assistance

Corporate America also supports female and minority business enterprises through supplier diversity programs that actively target qualified minority business from which to purchase goods and services. For example, in 2010 Walmart Stores allocated $10.5 billion to purchasing goods and services from female- and minority-owned businesses. In addition, since 2008 it has sponsored 20 one-week executive business courses for female and minority business owners at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Proctor & Gamble, General Dynamics and many other large companies have similar diversity procurement programs and participate with many regional development organization to link certified women-owned and minority-owned businesses with corporate buyers.


Direct access to grant money is available through government websites, such as grants.gov and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at cfds.gov. Federal grants are funded each year by congressional appropriations and are issued for various socially relevant or public benefit projects through 26 federal agencies. Female and minority business owners should seek grant application preparation assistance from regional minority business organizations or their affiliates, such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council. The bulk of federal grants go to state and local government, nonprofits, educational institutions and Native American organizations.