Entrepreneurship in the United States has radically transformed in recent years, with women taking center stage. Women made up 47% of new business owners in 2020—up 29% from the previous year. That trend has continued, with women founding 49% and 47% of new businesses in 2021 and 2022 respectively. This movement is reshaping the economy and the entrepreneurial culture that supports it.
Despite women’s remarkable contributions to the economy and new business growth, men continue to receive far more funding than women—2.5 times more in 2022. To address this problem, new and better funding opportunities for women are on the rise. Gusto recently launched a state-by-state guide to grants and loans which includes funding opportunities for women-owned businesses, and in this article, we compiled some major opportunities and resources available for women business owners today.
Funding opportunities for women-owned businesses
Small business grants are financial awards that support small businesses with funding, typically for a specific project, initiative, or purpose. Here are 20 opportunities that specifically support women entrepreneurs with funding, mentorship, and additional resources.
- Amber Grant Foundation
Each month, WomensNet presents an Amber Grant of $10,000 to a woman-owned business, focusing on a different industry each time. Moreover, they grant an extra $10,000 monthly award to another woman-owned enterprise in an under-represented category and, every quarter, allocate $10,000 to one startup and one nonprofit.
Toward the end of each year, they give an additional $25,000 to two of the 12 general grant recipients and one recipient from the industry-specific category.
The application fee is $15.
- Cartier Women’s Initiative
The Cartier Women’s Initiative is a global entrepreneurship initiative offering yearly awards to women-led and women-owned businesses worldwide, regardless of industry. The organization specifically supports women striving to create lasting positive effects on society and the environment with grants from $30,000 to $100,000. Here’s the application.
In 2021, the organization created the Science & Technology Pioneer Award to support women entrepreneurs engaged in groundbreaking scientific and technological ventures. In 2023, it started the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award, which addresses disparities in access, outcomes, or opportunities for historically overlooked or inadequately served communities.
- BELLE Capital USA
BELLE Capital USA fuels the growth of promising early-stage companies, emphasizing women-led businesses in underserved markets. These investors target 10–15 companies with current revenues of $1 million but demonstrating the potential to soar past $120 million within 3–5 years.
Focused on IT, digital health, technology-driven products and services, and CleanTech sectors, BELLE Capital provides funding ranging from $100,000 to $1.5 million, disbursed based on milestone achievements. Beyond the investment, it actively aids and guides companies in securing top female talent, maintaining a close partnership with founders and senior management.
- Fearless Fund
The Fearless Fund is crafted by women of color for women of color and welcomes applications from businesses led by women of color seeking financial support. This venture capital fund invests in organizations seeking pre-seed, seed-level, or series A financing. Fearless Fund boasts a distinguished lineup of corporate partners, including industry giants like Coca-Cola, Mastercard, and UPS.
In 2023, the company introduced the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, available to Black women who serve as the primary owners of small businesses in the United States. Four fortunate contest winners will receive $20,000 grants, access to digital growth tools, and valuable mentorship opportunities.
- Female Founders Fund
The Female Founders Fund is a venture capital firm that focuses on investing in early-stage startups led by women entrepreneurs. It was founded in 2014 and supports and empowers women in business.
The fund seeks out and invests in innovative companies across various industries (including technology, healthcare, consumer products, fintech, and more) to help women-owned businesses succeed and significantly impact their respective fields. The Female Founders Fund provides financial support, mentorship, and resources to help these startups grow and thrive.
- Tory Burch Foundation
The Tory Burch Foundation, known for its fashion brand, champions women entrepreneurs by offering $5,000 grants for business education and essential resources. The fellows program assists women business owners with:
- Access to capital funding
- Live and on-demand workshops led by experts
- Building connections within a community of female founders.
The Women of Color Grant Program, supported jointly by The Tory Burch Foundation and the Fearless Fund, provides grants ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 for eligible women business owners of color.
- SoGal Ventures
With investments in more than 70 companies, SoGal Ventures, a venture capital firm led by women, specializes in backing early-stage diverse founding teams across the U.S., Asia, Africa, and Europe, including numerous women-owned startups. SoGal Ventures offers advisory, coaching, mentorship services, startup resources, and networking events to diverse startups seeking guidance and support.
- Ms. Foundation for Women
The Ms. Foundation for Women is committed to promoting gender equity and supporting female entrepreneurs, especially women of color. Beyond providing financial support, this nonprofit offers strategic guidance to empower women-owned businesses on their journey to sustainable growth.
The Ms. Foundation directs its grant initiatives toward grassroots organizations in three key areas: economic justice, safety, and women’s health. While grants are typically awarded through targeted requests for proposals with limited applicants, entrepreneurs should periodically check the organization’s website for any open calls or opportunities for collaboration.
- Kapor Capital
Kapor Capital, a venture capital firm headquartered in Oakland, is dedicated to empowering founders from diverse backgrounds, with a strong focus on supporting women entrepreneurs. They report that 38% of their initial investments involve a founder identifying as a woman. Kapor Capital’s investment portfolio primarily supports startups addressing significant educational, finance, health, work, and justice challenges.
- Visa Global She’s Next Grant Program
Female entrepreneurs aiming to expand globally beyond the U.S. can explore the Visa Global She’s Next Grant Program. In partnership with iFundWomen, Visa provides grants and coaching to women-owned small businesses worldwide.
While the application window for 2023 has closed, entrepreneurs in regions like Chile, Poland, the Dominican Republic, the Baltics, the Nordic region, and the MENA region have benefited from this program. Global business owners should watch this webpage for updates on grant opportunities.
- Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition
The Women Founders Network runs the Fast Pitch Competition annually, dedicated to female entrepreneurs. The competition selects ten finalists, offering them tailored coaching, mentorship, and valuable feedback to refine their pitches. Cash prizes totaling $55,000 are up for grabs, with $25,000 awarded to the first-place winners in each of the two tracks (tech and non-tech). There’s an additional $5,000 grant for a standout participant in the Junior Judge program, accessible to young women in grades 9-12.
U.S.-based women-owned businesses that have secured funding of no more than $750,000 from external sources can qualify. Applications typically open in April.
- High Five Grant for Moms
The Mama Ladder organization offers an annual grant for mothers running small businesses. This grant supports women caregivers, including first-time expectant moms, stepmoms, and foster moms, regardless of their children’s ages.
Entrepreneurs can apply online and are encouraged to share their business stories on social media. A panel of judges selects finalists. The winners are determined through a public vote. The first-place recipient is awarded a grant of $25,000, the runner-up receives $10,000, and the third-place finalist is granted $5,000. The application window is open in September each year.
- Women’s Business Development Council Equity Match Grant
Connecticut-based businesses with a minimum of 51% women ownership could qualify for the Equity Match Grant provided by the Women’s Business Development Council. These grants, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, are designated for specific projects to enhance a business’s growth and profitability. Applicants must contribute a minimum match of 25% for any funds awarded. The application period typically closes in September.
- StartHER Grant
The StartHER grant, administered by Texas Women’s University’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs, is open for applications from September 22 to October 20, 2023. This initiative is set to provide $5,000 grants to twenty-five businesses in Texas with at least 51% ownership by women.
- Community Development Financial Institution Loans
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) provide financial aid and guidance to underserved communities, including women entrepreneurs. These institutions offer loans with more flexible eligibility criteria than traditional banks, making them suitable for individuals and small businesses, particularly women and minorities.
CDFIs focus on revitalizing low-income areas and supporting projects that benefit the community. To access CDFI loans, find a certified local lender, inquire about their application process, and benefit from lower barriers to approval, reduced interest rates, and personalized assistance. CDFIs are valuable resources for women entrepreneurs and minorities seeking financial support.
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a valuable resource for women-owned businesses seeking financial support. You can access general guidance and resources through the Women’s Business Centers. With the Lender Match tool, the SBA connects women-owned business owners to financing options.
Finally, the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program assists women-owned businesses in securing federal contracting opportunities.
GrantsForWomen.org is a valuable resource for women entrepreneurs seeking grants. Its comprehensive listing of grant opportunities at both local and national levels sets it apart, facilitating the discovery of lesser-known funding sources. The website also informs users about recent and time-sensitive opportunities, making it a site worth revisiting regularly.
Grants.gov provides an extensive overview of federal grant opportunities for businesses. While not all grants are exclusively for women-owned businesses, the platform boasts thousands of diverse opportunities for companies of all backgrounds. Grants.gov features federal grants from various agencies, including the Department of the Interior, Health and Human Services, National Science Foundation, and many others.
- IFundWomen Universal Grant Application Database
IFundWomen provides funding opportunities, coaching, and support for women entrepreneurs and-owned businesses through its platform. The grant marketplace is dedicated to supporting women business owners who gain access to a network of enterprise partners by submitting a single application.
IFundWomen will automatically align partner grant criteria with applications in its database. If your business qualifies, you’ll receive a notification and an invitation to apply. Notable past grant partners have included major companies such as Visa, Neutrogena, and American Express.
- National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) provides women business owners with support and resources at the national and local levels. The organization aims to propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide. They do this by advocating for change in business culture, building strategic alliances and transforming policy and influencing opinion makers.
- Mogul Millenial
Mogul Millennial has a subscription-based offering, Startup Funding Database, where underrepresented founders can go to find grants, accelerators and pitch competitions. You can use the code GUSTO to get 30% off your first 3 months.