(By Kristina Byas for Yahoo News) – According to research done by the Harvard Business Review, Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. Despite this high startup rate, only three percent run mature businesses.
One reason may be the lack of financing. The same research showed that 61 percent of Black women self-fund their startup capital. This makes sense, as Black-owned businesses continue to be the group least likely to be fully approved for business loans, according to the Federal Reserve.
Business grants can help Black women get the funding they need. Some grants are made especially for Black female entrepreneurs. Others are made for Black business owners, minorities, women or all business owners.
Here’s a look at some of the options available to Black women.
Grants are difficult to obtain. They are highly competitive and may require a difficult and lengthy application process that includes having to write a grant proposal.
1. SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
The SoGal Foundation has come together with various sponsors, including Walmart.org’s Center for Racial Equity, Winky Lux, Twilio, bluemercury, and twelveNYC, to create the SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant. Black women and nonbinary entrepreneurs across the U.S. are awarded $5,000 and $10,000 grants to grow their businesses.
Black women or Black nonbinary entrepreneurs with a legally registered business, such as a limited liability company (LLC) are eligible. Owners must have plans to secure investor financing, a scalable, high-impact idea or solution and the ambition to potentially become the next billion-dollar business. Grant applications are rolling, so only one application needs to be submitted.
2. Lift As We Climb Grant
The Lift As We Climb Grant was created by Flawless by Gabrielle Union. The goal of the grant is to provide financial support and boost Black female businesses by awarding three Black female entrepreneurs each $25,000, a one-year LinkedIn Premium membership and a mentorship session. Eligible businesses include hair accessories, skincare or fashion brands with fully developed products or services not distributed at a major retailer.
The application can be completed online through April 19, 2023, and requires business owners to submit a brand deck and one-minute video that discusses their mission, vision, and plans for their brand. The winner will be chosen from six finalists after each completes a virtual pitch.
3. The Catalyst Fund Grant
The goal of the Mastercard Strive program, which is operated by Hello Alice, is to close the black wealth and opportunity gap by providing an online platform with access to financial tools and capital.
The program includes The Catalyst Fund Grant, which awards several $5,000 grants to help Black women entrepreneurs based in Atlanta, Birmingham, Dayton, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. achieve their next business milestone.
Black women who own 51% or more of for-profit businesses with one to 10 employees in the selected cities are eligible for this grant. If you meet the criteria, sign up for a Hello Alice account to apply. The application period closes March 31, 2023.
4. Build Your Legacy Grant
Essence and Pine-Sol have partnered to offer the Build Your Legacy Grant. Every year, a vote is held to select one black woman entrepreneur to receive the $100,000 grant and six months of business coaching.
In the past, this contest has run from March to April, with a winner being announced by July. No official announcement has been made for the 2023 contest. For more information about grant eligibility and future application periods, sign up for Pine-Sol’s newsletter.
5. Invest in Progress Grant
The Invest in Progress Grant is available through The Boss Impact Fund, a program created by Boss Network and Sage that invests in Black women-owned businesses and provides resources to owners and founders looking to build and grow their companies. Over the next three years, the program will give out a total of $1.5 million to business owners across the country. Each grant recipient will receive $10,000, a one-year scholarship to BOSS Business University and monthly mentoring from BOSS or a selected agency.
The 2023 application period has closed, but future grant applications can be completed and submitted online via Hello Alice during the 2024 application period.
6. The Coalition to Back Black Businesses Grant
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses, which includes ADP, AIG Foundation, Altice USA American Express, Dow and the S&P Global Foundation, launched its grantmaking and mentoring initiative in 2020 with the goal of supporting Black business owners impacted by COVID. Several $5,000 and $25,000 grants will be awarded as well as training and mentorship to black-owned businesses with three to 20 employees in economically vulnerable or distressed communities.
The 2023 to 2024 cycle is likely to begin in August 2023 and run through September. To apply in the future, eligible businesses can complete a brief application online, which requires their business name, industry, zip code and contact information. If selected as a finalist, a full application must be completed.
7. Fast Break Small Business Grant
The Fast Break Small Business Grant was created by LegalZoom, NBA, WNBA and NBA G League and is managed by Accion Opportunity Fund. To support Black-owned small businesses, the program will give $6 million in grants, products and services. Each selected business receives a $10,000 grant and LegalZoom products and services, up to $500.
The application process is expected to reopen later this year during the WNBA season and will be open to small business owners across the U.S. Each eligible business owner can provide their name and email address on LegalZoom to be notified when the application period opens. And for eligibility requirements and a list of ineligible industries, head over to Accion Opportunity Fund, which manages the application process.
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