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Eight business grants for ambitious female entrepreneurs

Women-owned businesses contribute significantly to the economy, employing more than 10 million workers in the United States alone. Despite this, only a small share of venture capital dollars end up in the hands of female founders.

Business grants specifically for women-owned businesses close the gender wealth gap and foster economic growth and a more inclusive economy. Here are some of the organizations that are contributing to this shift.

Fearless Strivers Grant

Fearless Fund is deepening its commitment to supporting Black women-owned businesses with the launch of the 2023 Fearless Strivers Grant Contest. With Mastercard prizing, four small businesses in the United States will receive US$20,000 grants alongside digital tools and mentorship.

Who is it aimed for?

The contest is open to Black women who own a business and who are United States residents.

What’s involved?

There are four entry periods throughout the year. All the essential details regarding how to enter and the application process can be found here.

Cartier Women’s Initiative Award

The Cartier Women’s Initiative was founded by Cartier in 2006 with the intention of driving positive change by empowering women entrepreneurs. Winners of the annual international entrepreneurship program receive one-on-one coaching, business workshops and media coverage.

Prizes range from US$30,000–100,000. More recently, the Cartier Women’s Initiative introduced the Science and Technology Pioneer Award and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, which is open to all genders.

Who is it aimed for?

The program is open to women-owned or women-run businesses from any country and sector that are driven to have a strong and sustainable social or environmental impact.

What’s involved?

Three finalists from across seven regions are selected in the first round of the competition. The chosen finalists then receive coaching to help them move to the next phase where they submit a detailed business plan and pitch their projects in front of the jury. During the next phase, the finalists are invited to attend Awards Week, during which the seven laureates are nominated.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

The FedEx Small Business Grant has been helping small business owners in the United States to grow and expand their ventures since 2012. This year the People’s Choice Awards was introduced to give the public a chance to vote for a daily winner.

Who is it aimed for?

The FedEx Small Business Grant is awarded to United States-based for-profit small businesses that have up to 99 employees and have been in operation for at least six months. The important thing to note is that the business must have a shipping and printing need.

What’s involved?

Applicants must visit this website to begin the application process. While not a mandatory requirement, businesses have the option to submit an elevator pitch video to supplement their entry. The 100 finalists are then announced followed by the final 10 winners, who receive US$30,000 as well as additional benefits.

IFundWomen Grant

IFundWomen is an online marketplace that gives female entrepreneurs access to a wealth of grant opportunities that vary in terms of funding amounts, deadlines and eligibility.

Who is it aimed for?

The platform is designed to grow the community of women-owned businesses by helping women gain access to small business grants.

What’s involved?

Once you become a member, you will be notified if you’re a match with a partner’s grant criteria. IFundWomen has partnerships with numerous brands, including Visa, Caress, Johnnie Walker, BOTOX Cosmetic and Comcast. Begin the application process by clicking here.

The Amber Grant

The Amber Grant was one of the first online organizations to issue women-owned businesses grants. Since 1998, the WomensNet Advisory Board nominates an Amber Grant winner each month, who is awarded US$10,000.

Who is it aimed for?

To enter, at least half your business needs to be women-owned. The business must also be based in either the United States or Canada, and the applicant must be a minimum of 18 years old.

What’s involved?

The monthly deadline to apply is the last day of each month. The WomensNet Team selects five finalists and thereafter one winner. Businesses selected for a monthly Amber Grant are eligible for the annual US$25,000 Amber Grant. Past award recipients can be viewed here.

Tarte Cosmetics Shape Your Future Small Business Awards

As part of tarte’s commitment to giving back, this program is investing US$300,000 into Black female-owned businesses. Recipients will also receive ongoing mentorship from tarte’s executives, as well as access to the new tarte labs program – an incubation center for entrepreneurs, creators and artists.

Who is it aimed for?

Six awards valued at US$25,000 and 15 awards of US$10,000 will be awarded to Black female entrepreneurs.

What’s involved?

Application details are released on the tarte social channels.

DOVE InstaGrants

Mars-owned DOVE Chocolate created its DOVE InstaGrants program in an effort to support female entrepreneurs and small businesses in the United States.

Who is it aimed for?

The program is open to women-run, United States-based businesses in any sector who could benefit from winning one of three US$10,000 grants to help move their business forward.

What’s involved?

Now in its third year, the campaign invites women to pitch their small business idea in a 30-second video (or less) on Instagram using the hashtag #DOVEInstaGrants. This usually takes place in December, and you’ll also need to fill out an online entry form.

Tory Burch Foundation Women of Color Grant Program

In partnership with the Fearless Fund, this program gives grantees the opportunity to benefit from financial support, educational resources from both partner organizations and access to networking events.

Who is it aimed for?

If you are a 51 percent woman of color-owned, for-profit business that operates in the United States, this program could significantly help you grow your business. Grants are valued at US$10,000–20,000.

What’s involved?

Applicants must complete an online application before the deadline, usually April.

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