The Current Status of Women in Business
Women-owned businesses are making significant headway in the United States. Although they comprised less than 20% of employers within the U.S. in 2018, their numbers are steadily growing. According to the National Women’s Business Council, 37.6% of American businesses were owned and operated by women in 2021. The same can be said for minority-owned businesses, particularly those owned by black entrepreneurs, which saw their numbers increase by 8% between 2018 and 2019.
In 2021, 1,6 million U.S. businesses were owned by black women, comprising 13.7% of all women-owned businesses. While this is slightly higher than those owned by Asian women, it’s less than those owned by Hispanic women, and significantly less than the companies in ownership of white women. What can we do to help narrow that gap?
In this article, we explore the 12 best business grants accessible to black women for starting or boosting their company’s prospects. This list includes vital information such as specific eligibility requirements, application deadlines, and typical grant amounts.
The Role of Black Women in the U.S. Economy
Black women are valuable assets in their families and within the U.S. economy. According to the Center for American Progress (CAP), well over 60% of black women were the majority breadwinners in their households in 2013. This number climbed to 84.4% in 2017. Much of this can be attributed to their meteoric rise in business ownership, where they now comprise 61% of all African American-owned businesses.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all good news. Black women suffer from a disturbing trend that is known as “the double gap.” Not only do they make less money than their male counterparts – both white and black – but they also earn less than white women. This gap is perhaps most evident when looking at a comparison of their average annual salaries. According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in June 2020, average annual income is tiered as follows.
- White men: $58,000 (43% higher than black women)
- White women: $48,300 (19% higher than black women)
- Black men: $43,000 (6% higher than black women)
- Black women: $40,500
Addressing the double gap lies in the hands of all employers. However, an economy where black females are encouraged to own and run companies is an important component of ensuring fair remuneration. Thankfully, the number of small business grants for black women is on the rise. With more professional opportunities than ever before, an increasing number of these entrepreneurs can realize their dreams and push their careers to all-new heights.
12 Best Grants for Black Business Women
Although they have yet to claim their fair share of the business world, black women do have opportunities – as long as they know where to look. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the small business grants for black women, it provides a great starting point with plenty of leads to pursue.
1. Coalition to Back Black Businesses
Working in conjunction with their founding partner, American Express, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses provides “immediate financial assistance and long-term support for America’s black-owned small businesses.”
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses provides various grant and funding opportunities every year. Not only are they awarding $5,000 grants to applicants in the fall months from 2020 through 2023, but they also offer $25,000 enhancement grants in the summer.
With the help of additional partners, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses will distribute more than $14 million over the next few years.
As an applicant, here is what you need to know.
The organization must be:
- Recognized as a black-owned enterprise within a qualifying industry. Criteria is available on their website.
- Currently employ between three and 20 staff
- Located in an economically vulnerable community
- Experienced hardships as a result of COVID-19
Grant Amount: $5,000 / $25,000
Deadline: Fall / Summer
Where to Apply: The We Back Black Business website
2. The Amber Grant
Founded by WomensNet in 1998, the Amber Grant was established to memorialize a young entrepreneur – Amber Wigdahl – who passed away before she could set her business plans in motion. Ever since, the team behind the Amber Grant awards at least $30,000 to businesswomen on a monthly basis.
While this grant isn’t exclusive to black entrepreneurs, the Amber Grant has built a reputation by supporting small, women- and minority-owned businesses for over two decades. Apart from their monthly grant program, they offer two grants – worth $25,000 each – as well as various monthly and quarterly grants of $10,000.
- An applicant must be a female business owner
- A $15 application fee is required
Grant Amount: $10,000 / $30,000 / $25,000
Deadline: Quarterly / Monthly / Yearly
Where to Apply: The WomensNet website
3. SoGal Foundation
According to the SoGal Foundation, black business women receive less than 0.5% of all venture capital awarded today. They’re trying to change that by teaming up with a number of sponsors, including Walmart.org’s Center for Racial Equity, Twilio, and Winky Lux to offer cash grants of $5,000 and $10,000.
Their grants are made available to black women and non-binary entrepreneurs. As a result, they receive interest from demographics that aren’t normally represented in most capital funding opportunities.
To qualify for the grant, applicants must:
- Self-identify as a black woman or black non-binary entrepreneur, including multiracial women and non-binary individuals
- Own and operate a legally registered business
- Present an ambitious, high-impact business plan
Grant Amount: $5,000 / $10,000
Where to Apply: The SoGal Foundation website
4. Female Founders Fund
While it doesn’t focus specifically on black entrepreneurs, the Female Founders Fund is a great choice for female business owners – especially those that fall within the tech space. They also fund new businesses in the areas of B2B, healthcare, and general consumer services.
The Female Founders Fund provides plenty of online resources for entrepreneurs. Their podcast, known as The Two Percent, features exclusive interviews and podcasts with successful female entrepreneurs. In addition, they maintain a list of common best practices, business document templates, and more.
- Applying organizations must have at least one female on the company’s founding team
Grant Amount: $500,000 - $750,000
Where to Apply: The Female Founders Fund website
5. Fearless Striver Grant
Created to help and support women of color business owners, the Fearless Fund regularly invests in early-stage businesses. They often team up with prolific brands, such as Mastercard, Goldman Sachs, and more, and they’re known for coming up with fun and unique grant programs.
Their latest grant opportunity, known as the Fearless Striver Grant, specifically targets businesses that are owned by black women. No less than 11 small applicant businesses will each receive monetary awards alongside various software and digital tools to support their objectives.
To qualify, applicants must be:
- A black female aged 18 or older
- A U.S. resident
- The principal owner of a small business based in the U.S.
Grant Amount: $10,000
Deadline: December 31, 2022
Where to Apply: The Fearless Strivers Grant Initiative website
6. BIPOC Business Grant by AnnuityFreedom.net
Meant specifically for entrepreneurs who are black, indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC), the BIPOC Business Grant offers multiple grants and programs. The program was developed as a direct response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
The BIPOC Business Grant consists of two parts. The first is touted as an SEO (search engine optimization) makeover for your website. The second, known as The Minority Business Micro-Grant, is awarded monthly. It provides a $100 grant to just one of its monthly applicants. Although this won’t be enough to fund your entire business venture, it can provide a bit of much-needed relief during tough times.
Qualifying applicants must:
- Identify as black, indigenous, or a person of color
- Currently own and operate a business
Grant Amount: $100
Deadline: End of each month
Where to Apply: The Annuity Payment Freedom website
7. 37 Angels
Composed of female angel investors, 37 Angels specifically targets women-owned businesses for investment opportunities. Their grants range in size from $50,000 to $200,000, with most angels investing $25,000 each. They provide pitch opportunities for eight different companies every two months.
The application process is rather straightforward, beginning with a short call and, for successful candidates, culminating with a direct pitch to 37 Angels’ team of investors.
- Applicants must be a female and own of a business
Grant Amount: $50,000 - $200,000
Where to Apply: The 37 Angels website
8. Bridge the Gap Fund
The Bridge the Gap Fund was created by Rebuild the Block as a way to address the economic impacts of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on the pandemic’s effects on black business owners. Monetary grants are awarded according to a three-month cycle, with a total of 15 applicants receiving the award at the end of each cycle.
The Bridge the Gap Fund isn’t limited to those who have suffered from the negative health effects of COVID-19. It is also open to black business owners – men and women – who were victims of the widespread looting and destruction that occurred around that time.
Applicants for the grant must have:
- Recognition as a black entrepreneur in the U.S.
- Documented proof of financial losses, either as a result of COVID-19 or looting and destruction
- A business launch date no later than January 1, 2020
Grant Amount: Not Specified
Deadline: Third Friday of every month
Where to Apply: The Rebuild the Block website
Highlighted by publications such as Forbes and Black Enterprise, EnrichHER provides loans and grants specifically to women in roles of direct leadership. Founded by Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, an advocate for gender equality, the organization has provided more than $14 million in funding to nearly 200 companies.
EnrichHER typically supports small businesses that have been operating for two or more years and boast an annual revenue of $250,000 or more. They operate solely in the U.S. and, as such, their grants are only open to U.S.-based businesses.
Applicants of this grant must:
- Be a woman or founder of color
- Be the founder or co-founder of a business in the U.S. that has been operational for two ore more years
- Pay a $37 application fee
Grant Amount: $5,000
Where to Apply: The EnrichHER website
10. HerRise Micro-Grant
Touted as a “digital funding solution” for women of color,” the HerRise Micro-Grant partners with various corporate sponsors, foundations, and individuals to award $500 to one small business every month. Past grantees have used their funding to upgrade computers and other hardware, purchase marketing materials, bolster their online presence, and more.
But the perks don’t end there. Past grant recipients are also featured on the HerRise official website, giving them online exposure and access to new opportunities. The website also offers access to various training courses that are specifically designed for minority business owners.
Applying organizations must be:
- A registered business in the U.S.
- At least 51% owned by women of color
- A member of HerSuiteSpot, which is open for free registration
Grant Amount: $500
Where to Apply: The HerSuiteSpot website
11. The Opportunity Fund
According to their website, The Opportunity Fund is committed to supporting the arts, as well as social and economic justice – particularly civil rights for black and LGBTQ+ communities. They offer a rolling grant that is awarded twice per year. Although the exact dates vary, the deadline for Cycle One typically happens in mid-January while Cycle Two’s deadline occurs in early July.
Eligible applicants who are accepted receive an invitation to complete their full application, which is generally due two months after the initial deadline. The Opportunity Fund only accepts online applications.
- Applicants must be owners of a small or mid-sized organization
Grant Amount: Not Specified
Deadline: January / July
Where to Apply: The Opportunity Fund website
12. National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants
While it’s geared toward self-employed workers in general, the NASE Growth Grant provides plenty of opportunities for black entrepreneurs to receive funding for their business ventures. Since grants are awarded on a regular basis, and with over $1 million awarded to recipients to date, self-employed women and people of color are encouraged to apply.
The team at NASE evaluates applications based on several metrics, including the severity of your identifiable business needs, the specified usage of the grant, the grant’s ability to fulfill your business needs, and the grant’s potential impact on your business as a whole.
- Applicants must have a NASE membership in good standing
Grant Amount: Up to $4,000
Where to Apply: The National Associate for the Self-Employed website
Making the Most of Your Business Grants
With so many small business grants for black women available today, it can be difficult to decide which ones to pursue.
Once chosen, it can be even more difficult to make the most out of your business grants. For best results, make sure to research any potential grants beforehand, ask for recommendations from colleagues, and open up lines of communication with the institution responsible for issuing the grant as soon as possible – you’ll be happy that you did.