Funding Opportunities for Women-Owned Start-Ups

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Women-owned businesses are on the rise: According to 2022 census data, their average earnings increased by 27% from 2021, they employ 10.9 million Americans, and they had an estimated $432.1 billion in annual payroll.

But despite these impressive numbers, women-owned businesses still lag behind their non-women-owned counterparts in an important area. While women-owned businesses were more likely to take funding compared to men in 2022, they got less money. In 2022, male-owned businesses received 41% more in funding than women-owned enterprises. Since a lack of funding can prevent a start-up from getting off the ground, these facts put women-owned start-ups and businesses at a disadvantage.

Fortunately, there are funding opportunities specifically for women-owned businesses. You can apply to national or global funding programs, but it’s also good practice to check local, state, and industry-specific funding sources due to the lower competition they may have. Additionally, opt for small business grants over loans – they’re basically monetary awards you don’t need to pay back.

7 grants for women-owned businesses

Amber Grant Foundation
Founded in 1998, this organization’s mission is to provide grants to women-owned businesses. Each month, they give a $10,000 award to businesses in a specific category such as sustainability and technology. At the end of the year, one of the 12 preceding winners will win a $25,000 grant. The Amber Grant Foundation also offers a quarterly $10,000 Start-Up Grant opportunity.

Digitalundivided Breakthrough Program
Aimed at supporting Black and Latina women entrepreneurs, this program not only provides funding, but also coaches business owners to understand their customers, implement growth marketing strategies, and network to scale their ventures. Each company accepted into the program receives a $5,000 grant.

Fearless Fund
Fearless Fund “invests in women of color-led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed level or series A financing.” While the fund primarily offers investment, they do have grant opportunities. Their Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, in partnership with MasterCard, awards $20,000 to four Black women-led enterprises, along with digital tools and mentorship to grow their businesses.

SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
Black women entrepreneurs receive less than .5% of venture capital funding. The SoGal Foundation has partnered with several corporate sponsors – including Walmart – to “make a small step towards progress by providing several $10K and $5K cash grants to Black women or nonbinary entrepreneurs.” Applications are reviewed throughout the year.

The Cartier Women’s Initiative
The Cartier Women’s Initiative was founded in 2006 with the mission of empowering women impact entrepreneurs. It’s open to women-run and women-owned businesses from any country and business sector that “aim to have a strong and sustainable social and/or environmental impact.” Awardees receive financial capital support ($100K is the top prize), human capital support (like 1:1 training and workshops), and social capital support (including networking and media visibility).

Tory Burch Foundation
Started by founder and Chief Creative Officer of Tory Burch LLC, an American lifestyle brand, the Tory Burch Foundation supports women entrepreneurs by providing access to capital, education, and digital resources. Through their fellowship program, women entrepreneurs can gain knowledge, peer support, and a $5,000 business education grant.

Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition
This competition opens every year to early-stage, women-owned businesses with solutions that address a sizeable market opportunity and solve real-world needs. Top finalists pitch their companies to angel and VC investors, and earn the chance to win $55K in grants and over $100K in professional services.

Of course, grants aren’t the only way of funding your start-up, but they can help fill in the gaps loans don’t cover. You may also consider getting a business credit card, opening a business line of credit, or start an online crowdfunding campaign to help you fund your goals.


Annual Women-Owned Business Study 2023