Small Business Grants: Where To Get Funding in 2024

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Starting a business isn’t cheap.

Developing products, researching market trends, securing inventory⁠—there’s no shortage of costs for a startup business. But if you haven’t even started selling yet, where does the money come from? For up-and-coming entrepreneurs, securing business financing before having a chance to prove yourself can be tricky.

The application process for small business grants involves more than putting your name on a list and waiting for a deposit. Not every grant is right for every business, and understanding how grant-issuing organizations evaluate applicants is crucial to securing the financial assistance you need.

If you plan on investing the time and energy into applying to a small business grant program, it’s important to understand the available options. Here’s a list of resources to help you pick the right grant for your business.

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Federal SBA grants

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal government agency that provides support for small businesses (based on certain size standards), with the goal of strengthening the nation’s economy.

The SBA has Small Business Development Centers across the country and offers a wide variety of federal grants, loans, and other programs that help connect small business owners with funding opportunities from federal, state, and local governments. Here are some SBA grants and programs that can help support your small business:

State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) 

The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) offers federal small business grants throughout the US to assist existing businesses in expanding globally, offering funds for foreign-market trade shows and expansion opportunities. 

Veteran assistance programs

The SBA offers a number of veteran assistance programs that provide grant funding for veteran-owned businesses. 

Women-owned Small Business Federal Contract program

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program offers funds specifically to women-owned businesses, with the goal of leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs.

HUBZone program

The HUBZone program provides assistance to small businesses with the aim of fueling growth in historically underutilized business zones. 

Natural Resources Sales Assistance program

The Natural Resource Sales Assistance program prioritizes small businesses and assists them in securing federal government contracts through a bidding system. Eligible industries include timber and forestry products, minerals, coal, oil, gas, and real estate.

Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs

The SBA coordinates both the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR). SBIR is aimed at businesses conducting innovative research and development projects with commercial potential. There are 11 participating agencies including: 

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Department of Education (DOE) 

The Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) is designed to encourage joint research and development projects between small businesses and research institutions.

Other federal small business grants

Apart from the SBA, there are a number of other federal agencies offering grant programs for small businesses in the US.

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health continues to offer a variety of funding grant opportunities for businesses developing biomedical research related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

USDA Rural Business Development Grants

USDA Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG) are offered by the US Department of Agriculture to help with technical assistance and training programs for small rural businesses. Funds are also given for non-technical uses, such as entrepreneur training and long-term business strategy planning. The business must have fewer than 50 new workers and less than $1 million in gross revenue. 

US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency

The US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) has a wide variety of small business programs intended to assist with the growth and development of minority-owned businesses throughout the United States. 

US Department of Energy clean energy grants

The US Department of Energy clean energy grants are offered to businesses that have previously received SBIR or SBTT funding to assist in creating clean energy and to fund companies whose goals are to combat climate change.

US Department of Agriculture’s Rural eConnectivity program

The US Department of Agriculture’s Rural eConnectivity Program is a grant program offering federal small business grants to companies and projects that assist rural communities (particularly in disadvantaged communities) or that help to mitigate the effects of climate change within rural areas.

Grants.gov

Grants.gov offers tons of federal small business grants—primarily for organizations and not individuals—from various federal agencies, like the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the US Department of Commerce.

The grants.gov website provides an interface for finding grants, checking your eligibility, and applying.

State and local grants

Many local and state agencies also offer small business grants. These grants can be industry-specific or focus on broader economic development goals. To find state and local grant opportunities, visit your state’s economic development agency website or contact your local chamber of commerce.

Non-government grants for small businesses

Government agencies aren’t the only source of small business grants and financing: Many private corporations and nonprofit organizations also offer private grant programs designed to help small business owners start and expand their companies.

Comcast RISE

The Comcast RISE Investment Fund offers assistance to help independently owned businesses grow by providing funds for advertising, marketing, business consultations, entrepreneurship education, commercial creative production services, and other technical assistance.

Patagonia

Activist-minded outdoor brand Patagonia offers funding for small businesses seeking to address the core causes of climate change and confront environmental injustice.

National Association for the Self-Employed

The National Association for the Self-Employed is an organization that provides a broad-range of assistance programs for small businesses to help them be successful and competitive in the marketplace. The NASE offers growth grants of up to $4,000 for small businesses with the potential for growth. The grants can be used for business purposes including marketing, hiring, and technology equipment.

500 Global Flagship Accelerator Program

The 500 Global Flagship Accelerator Program provides $150,000 in seed capital and mentorship for fast-growing technology companies with the goal of promoting technological innovation.

Halstead Grant

The Halstead Grant offers a top prize of $7,500 in startup capital, as well as smaller grants to businesses innovating and advancing the artistry of the jewelry industry.

StartOut Founders Program

The StartOut Founders Program aims to provide resources that include its startup accelerator Growth Lab for LGBTQ+-owned businesses at every stage of development, from aspiring founders at the ideas phase to established companies looking to grow.

Second Service Foundation

The Second Service Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the growth of veteran-owned businesses through access to coaching, financing, and educational resources. Its grant program, the Military Entrepreneur Challenge, awards capital grants to eligible businesses based on factors such as positive social and community impact. The amount of the small business grants vary by event.

Corporate grants

Corporations, or their foundations, also provide small business grants. You might want to consider a corporate grant if your business closely aligns with the corporation’s goals and mission. These types of grants may also offer more flexible eligibility compared to federal grants. Examples of corporate grants include:

FedEx Small Business Grants Program

The FedEx Small Business Grants Program is open to businesses with fewer than 99 employees and that have been in operation for at least six months. FedEx awards more than $225,000 in grants to small businesses, including $500 in FedEx print credits to awardees.

Venmo Small Business Grant

With the Venmo Small Business Grant, 20 small businesses are awarded $10,000 in grant funding and free promotion on Venmo’s social media accounts. Plus, you get access to free technical resources and mentorship. To qualify, you must have a US Venmo account and valid business profile. You also must have less than $50,000 in annual sales and 10 or fewer employees.

Grants for women-owned businesses

Some small business grants focus on women in business. Here are a few examples:

Cartier Women’s Initiative Regional Awards Program

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Regional Awards Program offers grants up to $100,000 to entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses in their initial stages of development that are working to meet one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

IFundWomen grants

IFundWomen, a marketplace for women-owned businesses to network and secure partnerships and financing opportunities, has partnered with brands like Adidas, Caress, Botox, Visa, and more to offer grants to women-owned businesses. Apply to the Universal Grant Application Database to qualify for future partner grants. Grant amounts vary by partnerships.

Foundation for a Just Society

The Foundation for a Just Society (FJS) offers grants to local, national, regional, and international organizations that work to advance the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people. The FJS focuses its efforts in Francophone West Africa, Mesoamerica, South and Southeast Asia, and the US Southeast, as well as some areas of New York City. Grant amounts range from $50,000 to $500,000.

WomensNet’s Amber Grant

WomensNet is a community of entrepreneur-minded women supporting businesses led by women starting their entrepreneurial journey. The organization awards monthly Amber Grants of $10,000 each and additional $25,000 end-of-year grants to women entrepreneurs.

Stacy’s Rise Project

This Hello Alice and Stacy’s Pita Chips partnership gave rise to a program supporting women entrepreneurs through $25,000 business grants, mentorship, and other resources. Requirements for the Stacy’s Rise Project include being a small business selling consumer packaged goods and $25,000 to $1 million in annual sales.

Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund

Hello Alice, in partnership with DoorDash, offers $10,000 grants via its Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund, with the goal of assisting restaurants in recovering from natural disasters such as fires and floods.

Grants for BIPOC-owned businesses

There are numerous grants geared toward helping Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) start and grow their businesses. Here are a few to consider:

BOSS Impact Fund

The BOSS Impact Fund focuses on financially elevating Black women entrepreneurs with $10,000 Invest In Progress grants. The program, a partnership between Hello Alice and The BOSS Network, also provides mentorship opportunities.

Founders First CDC grant programs

Founders First bills itself as “the largest national platform for growing businesses led by diverse founders.” In addition to providing coaching and accelerators, the org offers a variety of grant programs for founders who identify as Latinx, Black, or Asian. Grants are available to residents of Southern California, Chicago, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and Texas with a $100,000 pool divided among 25 recipients in each area.

Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant program 

The US Chamber Foundation, in collaboration with American Express, launched its grant program as part of a multiyear initiative to support small businesses owned by Black entrepreneurs. Recipients receive $5,000 grants, mentorship, and opportunities for future financial support. The latest cohort was eligible for an additional $25,000 Enhancement grant.

Other funding for small business owners

Aside from small business grants, there are other ways for a new business to secure the startup funds it needs to grow. If you’re looking for other methods of financing your startup, here are a couple of options to look into:

Small business loans

Small business loans are one of the most common ways that new entrepreneurs secure funding for their businesses. Unlike grants, loans need to be repaid, so it’s important to understand how much money you need, what it will be spent on, and how you plan on making the money to pay the loan back.

TIP: Want to know how much it will cost to take out a loan? Try our free business loan calculator.

Learn more: How To Get a Small Business Loan: 6 Steps To Take

Get funding to run your business with Shopify Capital

Shopify Capital makes it easy to get funding quickly and use it for inventory, marketing, and more. Automatically make payments as a percentage of your daily sales. No compounding interest. No schedules. No surprises.

Explore Shopify Capital

Crowdfunding for small businesses

Crowdfunding has become one of the most popular methods of raising money for startup businesses, largely due to online crowdfunding sites that make it accessible to nearly anyone.

Rather than seeking a large sum of money from an organization or angel investors, crowdfunding involves collecting small sums of money from ordinary people that believe in the potential of your own business.

Learn more: How To Do Crowdfunding: With Expert Tips and Examples From Successful Campaigns

Equity crowdfunding for small businesses

Equity crowdfunding is similar to—but a little different from—ordinary crowdfunding. With equity crowdfunding, everyday people commit smaller sums of money to your business in exchange for equity.

Non-accredited investors can participate in crowdfunding within limits. Previously, new businesses could sell shares only to accredited investors, meaning there was strict net worth criteria that kept members of the public from being able to invest. The restriction also acted as a huge barrier to entrepreneurship, since newer merchants are less likely to have built a network of wealthy investors.

With equity crowdfunding, investment and entrepreneurship have become more accessible.

Learn more: Equity Crowdfunding: Definition, Advantages, and How To Do It

Capital investors for small businesses

Capital investors refer to both angel investors and venture capital funds. Accredited investors can help provide funding for your business startup in return for equity ownership or convertible debt (a loan that may be converted into equity in the future). For example, Backstage Capital is a venture capital fund that invests in underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship, offering funds for small businesses owned by women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ founders.

The biggest benefit of capital investors is that they can provide you with large sums of money in a relatively short amount of time. At times, they can also provide valuable mentorship as you work to grow your own business.

Learn more:

How to get a small business grant

  1. Look for grants within your industry
  2. Read the eligibility requirements carefully
  3. Make sure your business aligns with the organization’s mission
  4. Know what you’ll be spending the grant money on
  5. Focus your pitch on innovation and expansion
  6. Deliver on your promises

Small business grants are offered by all kinds of organizations to all types of businesses with a wide range of values, missions, and functions. If you’re starting out as a small business owner and looking to apply for small business grants for your startup, here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Look for grants within your industry

Many small business grants are industry-specific, so it can help narrow down your search if you focus on organizations and research institutions within your particular industry. Focusing on one industry also builds buzz around your business and can help build connections with industry figures who may be able to offer guidance and investment opportunities.

2. Read the eligibility requirements carefully

It sounds obvious, but it’s not hard to overlook aspects of grant eligibility requirements and end up putting effort into applying for a grant you’re ineligible for. Read the requirements carefully and evaluate whether you qualify for the grant award. If you’re unsure whether you qualify, contact someone from the organization and ask.

3. Make sure your business aligns with the organization’s mission

Organizations that provide small business grants do so in the hopes of achieving a specific goal they care about deeply. Ask yourself how your business model helps contribute to achieving this goal. If the answer is hard to parse, you might want to consider applying for grants with another organization.

4. Know what you’ll be spending the grant money on

Some organizations stipulate allowable expenses for grant money. But even when they don’t, it’s still important to have an idea of how you plan to use the money. When an organization is determining whether to issue your business a grant, having a solid business plan and knowing how the money will be spent will help them understand more clearly how your business aligns with their mission.

5. Focus your pitch on innovation and expansion

Organizations that issue small business grants typically favor for-profit businesses that they see as innovative, forward-thinking, and on a path to growth. Focus your pitch on how you plan to scale, any new technologies you might be developing, and what your business can do to help the organization with its mission.

6. Deliver on your promises

Small business grants are not loans, so lenders aren’t expecting to be paid back. They’re not investment capital either, so issuers aren’t expecting to own assets of your business. But that doesn’t mean that small business grants don’t come with expectations and incentives.

Issuers still expect a return on investment, just not a monetary one. Instead, organizations that provide small business owners with grants want to feel confident that your business idea contributes to their organization’s mission⁠—whether it be a common good, an innovation in a particular industry, or economic growth in a specific community.

A small business grant isn’t necessarily “free money.” Grant issuers often have stipulations about how the money can be spent, sometimes even spending the money themselves on specific resources they believe will help your business grow.

Fuel growth in your startup with a small business grant

The first few months of running a business are often the most challenging. It takes time for a business to become profitable, but costs can add up quickly.

Small business grant programs can make a world of difference for a new small business owner. Not only do they provide a vital injection of funds, they can also help to establish connections and networking opportunities in your industry and meet your business needs early on.

If your business has the potential to innovate and serve the public good, chances are you’re a great candidate for a small business grant.

Small business grants FAQ

What is the difference between a grant and a loan?

The difference between a grant and a loan is that a grant is a financial award that does not need to be repaid. A loan is borrowed money that must be repaid with interest over a specified period of time.

What are the benefits of getting a small business grant?

The benefits of getting a small business grant include receiving non-repayable funds to start or expand a business, reducing financial risk, and increasing credibility with lenders and investors.

What is the maximum grant amount?

The maximum grant amount varies depending on the grant program and funding entity. It can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands, depending on the specific grant and eligibility criteria.

Where can I find a list of small business grants?

To find a list of small business grants, you can visit websites of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private foundations, as well as online grant directories and databases like Grants.gov, SBA.gov, and regional Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs).

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