The unrealized potential of women’s entrepreneurship is very high. Though, the situation is changing for the better. Mastercard presented the first Index of Women Entrepreneurs. The study revealed the countries with the most favorable environment for women’s business development. 

They are New Zealand (1st place, 74.4 points), Canada (2nd place, 72.4 points) and the United States (3rd place, 69.9 points). In these countries, the best conditions have been created to support women’s entrepreneurship. 

For example, active communities of small and medium-sized businesses, quality regulation, simple conditions for doing business, and the ability to obtain various types of grants and other financial encouragement. So where in the USA can a woman obtain financial assistance to start a business?

Business Grants For Women

Grants are often the entrepreneur’s first choice, even more than venture capital. Women can get various grants from foundations and organizations to help finance their startups.

1. Girlboss Foundation Grant is being given twice a year for creative projects. You may apply for it if your idea relates to the field of design, fashion, music, and art. The cash prize is $ 15,000. You can participate in it free of charge. You just need to give some information: name, contacts, description of your project, the sum of money that you need, and state your goals.

2. The Amber Grant.  Based on jury decision, every month one woman receives $ 1,000.  And once a year, one of the 12 winners can get another $ 9,000. The best part about this grant is that you do not need to describe your project in a business language. Judges are looking for a woman who adores her job. A woman can represent any idea. Again, filling out an application is simple: you need to give general information and a short business plan for your future company. A participation fee of $ 15.

3. Halstead Grant.  This annual grant is given for jewelry startups. The winner receives $ 7,500 and a $ 1,000 gift card from Halstead, a wholesale jewelry company.

4.  Idea Café Small Business Grants.  This grant was created not only for women but mainly they win. The $ 1,000 grant is for those who creatively solve everyday problems. This is not a lot of money, but sometimes they can help.

5. InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge This is an exclusive grant for businesses that create new products and services for women. A really decent amount of $ 70,000 is at stake. The first place gets $ 40,000, the second place received $ 20,000, and the third – $ 10,000.

There are several more reliable government and private-sector small business grants for women. Each business grant is different, and it is recommended that you ensure that your business qualifies for the grant before you apply.

SBA And Programs For Women

For more than 60 years, small business has been supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The main purpose of this organization is to provide financial and advisory support to small businesses.

The SBA provides low-interest loans to small businesses and is a guarantor to lenders. They provide these loans to start a new business. The loan amount is up to $ 2 million.

SBA issues over 60 thousand credit guarantees annually for the amount of about 10 billion US dollars. Moreover, about 90% of all financial assistance comes in the form of guarantees. As payment for these services, SBA takes only 1% of the loan amount, which is quite beneficial for the borrower.

SBA’s most popular initiatives for women include:

.       7(a) Loan Program.

It is lending under state guarantees. Approximately 36% of loans under this program are issued to companies launched by women. This program has good flexibility: a loan can be obtained for different purposes. Almost 7000 commercial banks participate in this project. The sum of the loan can be small and may reach even $ 5 million. The money is given for a period of 5 to 25 years, with an interest rate of 6% to 13%.

.       8(a) Business Development Program.

It provides business training, counseling, marketing and technical assistance to small businesses;

.      SBA loan programs.

They offer unique eligibility requirements. So even applicants with a low credit score have a chance for approval. You will not receive money directly from SBA, but it will facilitate access to the funds and reduce the risk for the lenders.

.     Woman Business Centers.

They were first introduced by SBA in 1988. Currently, SBA has 116 different centers across the US. According to the legislation, SBA is authorized to provide grant assistance to private, nonprofit organizations to carry out 5-year projects to support small businesses owned and controlled by women. WBCs are financed by the US government.

Final Thoughts:

Either if you apply for a loan or if you plan to apply for a grant, make sure you do an in-depth research into the requirements and terms. If SBA loan or grants don’t work out for your small business, or if you need extra funding, make sure you explore your other funding options. These may include friends and family, crowd funding and alternative small business lenders. Good luck!