Women Business Grants

Opportunities abound for women-owned businesses. Financially, starting a business or expanding one, is very challenging! And, too, the economic downturn not only in the United States, but throughout the world, leaves many wondering what prospects are there for success.

Yet, while the challenges may seem daunting, women-owned business are flourishing in the United States, and elsewhere. In fact, women business grants are available, and although highly competitive, are well-worth the time and effort it takes to secure one.

Let’s start with some simple basics: Have a credible Business Plan with realistic financials. Not only does a woman need a solid Business Plan to secure a business loan, most business grants will require that one be written.

Although the Small Business Administration (SBA) is an excellent source for business information, unless the business is involved in research and development (R&D), the SBA does not offer grants. And while it is true that the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, a division in the SBA, has been established to help women entrepreneurs, it does not provide grants, only loans.

At the federal level, then, grants to women who own businesses are not available. To state otherwise would, in fact, be misleading. Most federal grants are targeted at very specific groups: states, government units, and non-profit organizations. Therefore, a woman needs to start by identifying potential women business grants at the state, local government level, or through non-profits. Make no mistake: this is no easy task.

States, as well, present challenging barriers for women hoping to find business grants. While states provide comprehensive listings of state grants, overwhelmingly they are awarded to local government units such as counties, cities, and non-profit organizations. Counties and cities, in turn, may provide loans to for business start-ups or expansions, but generally do not offer grants. Non-profits grants, on the other hand, may provide business grants to women if that is part of their overarching mission.

Clearly, then, the options for women to secure business grants rests with non-profits and private companies. But what is required is the ability to conduct extensive research, and remain “on task.” Identify those organizations that assist women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses. Evaluate the materials provided by the organization to determine eligibility. If eligible, complete the grant application and apply. The same research applies to private companies. Their rules and regulations are different than for most non-profit organizations, but “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Finally, many local communities have organizations composed of women-owned businesses. Sometimes, not always, these organizations provide women business grants who are just starting or need funds for expansion. What most of these organizations do provide is guidance: the kind of guidance needed to be successful. The work of networking in order to identify potential women business grants may very much depend upon the kind of local support offered. Local support includes successful women entrepreneurs and those who are retired. They can mentor to women who are just starting a business or need assistance with expansion.

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