Grants for self-employed women working in America are designed largely to improve the economic standing of low-income women who are interested in finding successful career options. Other opportunities exist to provide funding for expenses for established businesses run by women, such as payroll or equipment purchases. Some nonprofit foundations use grant awards to fund programs or other nonprofits developing programs to increase self-employment opportunities for women.
Amber Foundation Grant
Amber Foundation Grants have been awarded to self-employed women attempting to start a home-based or Internet business since 1998. Grant funding must be used to upgrade equipment, develop a website or a variety of other capital expenses. Amber Foundation Grants range in dollar amount from $500 to $1,500 per award. Applications for the Amber Foundation Grant can be made through the online women's entrepreneurial community WomensNet.
The Women's Fund of Central Indiana funds a number of grant opportunities that are awarded to area nonprofits to develop programs aimed at improving the status of women in central Indiana. In 2010, the Women's Fund awarded $15,000 to Dress for Success Indianapolis, a program designed to help women find successful careers; in 2009, the foundation awarded $30,000 in grant funding to improve its Business Ownership Initiative, which offers training classes for women hoping to start a business.
The Aurora Foundation is another women's nonprofit foundation offering grant funding to other nonprofit programs to help self-employed women. This Hartford, Connecticut, organization has funded the Catholic Charities Southside Family Center in Hartford, which provides daycare training for low-income women, the University of Hartford's Center for Professional Development, as well as the Loaves and Fishes Ministries' Business Initiative Micro-Enterprise Program, which trains low-income women for various modes of self-employment. Eligibility requirements mandate that projects funded by the Aurora Foundation must aim at developing the women's workforce through education, job training or job placement.
Eileen Fisher Grants
Women's clothing designer Eileen Fisher runs the Eileen Fisher Business Grant Program for Women Entrepreneurs. This grant opportunity awards thousands of dollars to businesses completely owned by women whose businesses create products boosting environmental and economic health; the 2011 grant program awarded five grants of $12,500 each to women-owned businesses. Eileen Fisher considers start-ups and businesses that have been established for at least three years for grant funding. Grant money is available only for private companies or profit/nonprofit hybrid companies.
National Association for the Self-Employed
The National Association for the Self-Employed, or NASE, is one of the largest national organizations devoted to developing the prospects of self-employed citizens across America. Self-employed business owners, including women, can apply for NASE's Growth Grants program which offers up to $5,000 in business development funds; at least $500,000 has been awarded to self-employed business owners through Growth Grants since 2006. NASE also coordinates various scholarship opportunities, including the $24,000 Future Entrepreneur Scholarship and $4,000 Succeed Scholarships. Only NASE members can apply for grant funding through NASE.