24 Start Up Business Grants for Women
February 1st 2024
There are more than 14 million women-owned businesses in the US as of 2024. Those 14 million companies account for 40% of all businesses, according to Forbes.
The number of women-owned ventures is also rising faster than businesses owned by other types of owners. According to the 2024 Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business Report, between 2019 and 2023, the number of women-owned companies increased at nearly double the rate of those owned by men. Between 2022 and 2023, the rate of growth was 4.5X male-owned businesses.
Despite the growing numbers and economic impact — women-owned businesses employ more than 12.2 million employees and generate $2.7 trillion in revenue — access to capital remains an obstacle. It is more difficult for women-owned firms to secure debt or equity investments that would enable them to grow and expand. They are less likely to be approved for bank loans and even when they are approved, the amount loaned is often lower and the interest rate higher than for businesses owned by men.
Startup grants for women-owned businesses are a critical resource that can provide a path to success. Without the need to pay back the money or pay high-interest rates for its use, grants offer women-owned startups a way to get ahead.
Startup Business Grants for Women-Owned Companies
While there are a number of grant programs for women-owned businesses, many exclude early-stage or startup companies. However, the following programs were specifically designed to help aspiring or new women-owned businesses get up and running.
In 2024, WomensNet expanded its grant program to offer three separate $10,000 monthly grants. The Amber Grant is for any woman-owned business located in the U.S. and Canada. To that program, WomensNet added a Startup Grant, for early-stage businesses run by women, and a Business-Specific Grant that is designated for a business in that month’s industry (in February 2024, the grant will go to a business in the health and fitness industry, for example).
AWS Startup Loft Accelerator
Entrepreneurs (men and women) in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa with at least one technology lead employee on staff and are early-stage or pre-seed may qualify for the Amazon Web Services Startup Loft Accelerator. New cohorts begin monthly, offering a credit of up to $25,000 in AWS credits, a 10-week educational program, networking, and hands-on workshops to help you become “funding ready.”
Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
The Cartier Women’s Initiative awards 27 awards—first, second, and third place grant amounts – to women entrepreneurs from nine regions around the globe. Grant amounts range from $30,000 for the third place winner to $60,000 for the second place winner, and $100,000 for the first place winner in each region. Additionally, winners receive access to low-cost loans of up to $200,000. Finally, winners receive custom business training, executive coaching, and in-person INSEAD workshops. Although the window for applications has closed for 2024, sign up to be alerted regarding the 2025 timetable.
Connecticut Ignite Grant Program
Women-owned businesses in Connecticut are eligible to apply for Ignite Program grants valued at between $2,500 and $10,000 from the Women’s Business Development Council. The money must then be used for a “clearly defined project that will have a measurable impact on the business, its growth and profitability.” The grant funds may not be used for operating expenses, real estate, reimbursement of past expenses, or debt repayment. The company must be at least 51% owned by a woman, based in Connecticut, and the owner must have invested at least $2,500 into the business in the last 12 months. The deadline to apply is March 14, 2024.
Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network US Dream Tech Contest
Members of Dell’s Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) are eligible to compete for Dell-sponsored products and services. This annual contest is open to US-based women-owned businesses with fewer than 100 employees. In 2023, the winner received $40,000 in Dell Reward Points and the second and third-place businesses received $15,000 and $5,000, respectively. Applications are not yet being accepted for 2024, but check back here to learn when they are available.
Boundless Futures Foundation accepts applications for EmpowHer Grants of up to $25,000 to U.S.-based woman-owned businesses that have been in operation less than 3 years. The entrepreneur must be at least 22 years old and “an applicant’s business must address a social issue directly or through its business model.”
The Foundation also gives Her Village grants to nonprofit organizations that support female entrepreneurs of up to $30,000.
Enthuse Foundation Grants
Women-owned businesses are eligible to apply for 10 annual Enthuse Foundation grants of $2,500 each. The grants “aim to solve challenges women entrepreneurs face directly.” The next round of funding opens in March 2024. Register to be notified when 2024 grant applications are available.
Freed Fellowship Grant
A $500 Freed Fellowship Grant is given monthly to a U.S.-based woman business owner, “no strings attached.” All of the monthly grant winners are then eligible for a $2,500 year-end grant. Each applicant receives a free assessment and recommendations to help them progress.
Nonprofit Hidden Star gives an annual Galaxy Grant of $2,750 to one woman or BIPOC business owner. The deadline to apply in 2024 is March 31, 2024. The application is short and simple.
Giving Joy Grants
Giving Joy gives annual microgrants of up to $500 to women-owned businesses and nonprofits. Applicants can be from any country in the world as long as the female applicant is over age 18. The deadline to apply in 2024 is April 30, 2024.
Applications are scored on four criteria: 1) The degree of alignment with the Giving Joy Mission, 2) the degree to which the proposed grant activities are innovative, creative and will have a positive impact on women, their families and communities, 3) how effective the use of grant funding is for your proposed activities, and 4) the grant impact is clearly outlined, well-articulated, and measurable.
Emerging silver jewelers should consider applying for a Halstead Grant, which provides a $7,500 start up grant and $1,000 in jewelry-related merchandise to a “new jewelry designer.” Finalists receive $1,000 cash and $250 in merchandise. The application deadline for 2024 is May 1. A design portfolio and an application consisting of 15 questions is required for consideration.
Hawai’i FoundHer Program
Native Hawaiian and Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander early-stage women business owners in Hawai’i are encouraged to apply for the FoundHer Program, which gives financial support and guidance as part of the six-month accelerator. A cohort of 7 women-owned businesses based in Hawai’i will get started in March 2024. Those selected will receive a $20,000 grant and $4,000 care stipend (many participants are mothers) on top of weekly educational workshops and monthly retreats, in addition to access to a robust network of mentors and advisors. Sign up to be notified when applications for the next cohort are available.
Funded by corporate sponsors of HerSuiteSpot, the HerRise MicroGrant provides $1,000 grants to businesses 51% or more owned by women of color. Nonprofits, franchises, direct sellers, resellers, or independent consultants are not eligible. Winners are announced on the first Friday of every month.
High Five Grant
Provided through The Mama Ladder, this grant program for mom entrepreneurs gave 24 grants of up to $5,000 in 2023 totaling $38,500. Part of the goal of the grant is to support women with children of all ages. Applicants submit their entries online and a team of judges selects the semi-finalists, which are then winnowed to a list of finalists. Although the 2023 finalists were announced, the 2024 application cycle should start in September 2024.
The Kitty Fund
Named in honor of Catherine “Kitty” Abrams Tadlock Webster, mother of Founders First CEO Kim Folsom, the Kitty Fund gives $1,000 grants to up to 25 entrepreneurial moms. To be considered, the business owners must be mothers, who have been in business at least 1 year (so not necessarily a strict startup) with at least two employees and revenue under $5 million. Applications will be accepted starting in March 2024.
Ladies Who Launch
Open to women and nonbinary business owners, the Launch Program offers capital of $10,000 plus six months of free education and an industry expert as mentor. Applications will become available in February 2024 for the next cohort. The 2023 cohort was open to consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies with between $100,000 and $499,000 in annual revenue.
Michigan Olga Loizon Foundation Grant
Women-owned businesses located in Michigan may be eligible to receive up to a $10,000 grant from the founder of Olga’s Kitchen restaurants, in whose name the Olga Loizon Foundation was established. In addition to doing business in the state, female applicants must also reside in Michigan, provide a personal statement explaining their financial need, as well as a written business plan.
Minnesota Founders First CDC and the Center for Economic Inclusion Vanguard Accelerator
Latina and black women business owners in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area may be eligible to apply for one of 10 grants of $5,000 each as part of the Vanguard Accelerator. The grants will be given to women-owned B2B ventures based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, owned by Latina and black women, who have at least 3 employees, have been in business at least 3 years, and have revenue of between $75,000 and $3 million. The application period closes on February 21, 2024.
In addition, applicants can be considered for scholarships to the accelerator program and access to funding through forgivable loans of $25,000 to $250,000.
Papaya Reusables Grant
One U.S.-based woman-owned business owner will receive a $10,000 grant to fuel her company’s growth from Papaya Reusables. Sign up to be notified when grant applications open again.
Wellness and beauty company Shea Moisture supports three different grant programs through partnerships with other brands, each providing at least $10,000 in funding, up to $100,000 to Black and women-owned beauty or wellness businesses. The Next Black Millionaires grant offers grants up to $100,000 to US-based Black-owned businesses that have been in operation at least two years and have at least $25,000 in annual revenue. In partnership with Brown Girl Jane, grants for Black and women-owned beauty and wellness companies that have been in business at least one year are available, worth $10,000-25,000. The Blueprint Grant offers up to $10,000 and one-on-one support to US-based Black women business owners between the ages of 18 and 35. Application windows vary, so sign up to be notified regarding upcoming grant opportunities.
Stacy’s Rise Project
This collaboration between Hello Alice and Stacy’s Pita Chips supports women-owned businesses primarily in the food and beverage industry. The 16-week mentorship program awards 10 companies $25,000 each. To be eligible, the companies must be woman-owned, generating between $25,000 and $1 million in revenue, and not part of an accelerator program at the time of application. The application period typically opens in October, so check back in October 2024 for the 2025 cohort.
Texas StartHER Grant Program
Sponsored by the Texas Woman’s University’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs, the StartHER grant offers 25 aspiring or current women entrepreneurs $5,000 grants to fund their businesses or innovative ideas. To qualify, among other things, the company must be located and operated in the state of Texas, have fewer than 5 employees, and the business owner must be current with all financial obligations. Applications for 2024 will be available from September 3 – October 4, 2024.
Tory Burch Foundation Fellows
Each year the Tory Burch Foundation selects 50 women business owners to participate in a year-long fellowship program, which consists of $5,000 in grants, access to no-interest loans, networking, workshops, and live and digital educational programming. The 2024 application has not yet been posted.
Women Founders Network
The 11th annual Fast Pitch Competition for women entrepreneurs is open to US-based female entrepreneurs who have raised no more than $750,000 in outside funding. Business owners should apply either in the technology category or in the consumer products/non-tech category. Founders who apply must be willing to travel at their own expense to participate in the October 24, 2024 Fast Pitch event. The application window opens from April 1 to May 31, 2024 and in 2023, Women Founders Network awarded $55,000 in cash grants and more than $100,000 in professional services to winning businesses.
Other Grant-Finding Resources
Much like the college common application, the IFundWomen Universal Grant Application Database allows women business owners to submit a single application and be matched with grants for which they may qualify. As new grants are added to the database, entrepreneurs are alerted and invited to apply. American Express, Neutrogena, and Visa are just some of the previous grant partners.