5 Grants For Women Starting a Business

 December 3, 2020
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Women have been historically underrepresented in the business world, but that’s been changing in recent years. To support female entrepreneurs, several organizations provide grants for women starting a business. These business grants for women can help you cover the startup costs of your new business while you get it off the ground.

5 grants for women starting a business

Let’s take a closer look at the following business grants for women:

1. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program
2. Amber Foundation Grant
3. InnovateHER Challenge
4. AAUW Community Action Grants
5. Open Meadows Foundation

1. Eileen Fisher grant to support women in environmental justice

Grant amount: $10,000-$40,000

Who it’s for: Nonprofit organizations that work on behalf of women and girls and the environment

Since 2019, Eileen Fisher’s grant program has supported organizations that are committed to improving the status and rights of women, and the health of the planet.

This grant program awards $200,000 annually in award amounts ranging from $10,000 to $40,000.

To win this grant, applicants must align with one of the following criteria:

  • Help increase women’s participation in decision-making and improve women’s representation while bringing about positive environmental outcomes
  • Train women and girls in adapting to and solving the problems of climate change and advocating for sustainability
  • Create opportunities for women in the sustainable economy, including helping them become environmental leaders while improving their well-being and that of the planet

To qualify, an organization must be a recognized 503(c) nonprofit that’s been operating for at least one year.

Application dates vary, but you can check out the full list of qualifying criteria on the Eileen Fisher website.

2. Amber Foundation grant

Grant amount: $10,000 with the chance to win an annual grant of $25,000

Who it’s for: Female entrepreneurs who demonstrate passion about their business plans

Since 1998, the Amber Foundation has awarded grants for women starting a business. Each month, the organization offers a $10,000 grant to one recipient, plus an additional $25,000 to one winner at the end of the year.

The Amber Foundation isn’t looking for a specific business type but instead seeks “passion as well as business smarts.”

Applying for an Amber Grant is easy. After providing your name, business name and website, simply answer two prompts:

  • Tell us about your business or business idea.
  • Tell us what you would do with the money if awarded a grant.

You may also provide additional comments along with the $15 application fee.

3. InnovateHER Challenge

Grant amount: $10,000, $20,000 or $40,000

Who it’s for: Individual business owners or corporations who make a positive impact on women and families

The InnovateHER Challenge is one of the few government grants for small business owners that prioritize women’s empowerment. People of any gender can apply as long as their products or services improve the lives of women.

To be eligible for this grant from the Small Business Administration (SBA), your work must positively impact women and families. You must fill a need and show the potential for commercialization.

4. American Association of University Women (AAUW) Community Action Grants

Grant amount: $3,000-$10,000

Who it’s for: Individuals or organizations that encourage girls to enter the fields of physical science or engineering

The AAUW provides Community Action Grants to individuals, AAUW branches, AAUW organizations or nonprofits that promote education and gender equity. In particular, the AAUW rewards work that encourages girls to select physical science or engineering as a career before starting college.

When selecting winners, the AAUW looks for projects that reach underserved audiences and meet a local need.

5. Open Meadows Foundation

Grant amount: Under $2,000

Who it’s for: Women who lead projects to promote gender, racial or economic justice

The Open Meadows Foundation provides grants of under $2,000 to women-led projects that benefit women and girls. It’s specifically looking for work that promotes gender, racial and economic justice.

The foundation gives priority to small organizations and startups. Your project must have a limited budget of $75,000 or less.

In past years, applicants could create a proposal using the foundation’s online form and email it to [email protected]. But at the time of writing, the foundation is reorganizing and will announce its new programming on its website.

Consider angel investors for women-led businesses

While angel investments aren’t grants, they can help get your business off the ground. According to Forbes, angel investors provide funding — typically between $25,000 and $100,000 — in exchange for equity.

There are several angel investing groups that specifically invest in women-led businesses. Belle Capital USA, for instance, invests in a number of women-led, high-growth companies.

Pipeline Angels is a group of women investors who back women-owned businesses. To date, its 400 members have provided over $6 million in funding.

Golden Seeds is another potential source of funding. If you’re a female founder, check out this list of additional resources from 37 Angels.

Where to find grants to start your business

While women-led businesses are on the rise, grants for women starting a business remain limited. But you don’t have to narrow your search to women-specific grants.

Instead, look around for general grants to start a business. You can find government grants for small business owners at Grants.gov. The Women’s Business Center also has branches around the country that connect you with local resources.

Plus, you may find grants from private organizations. FedEx, for example, awarded over $250,000 to 12 small business owners in 2020.

By relying on online resources and local agencies, you can find extra sources for funding your startup. Once you’ve secured funding, you can also look for mentors for female entrepreneurs.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2022!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
7.99% – 23.43%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

4.37% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

7.46% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

99.00% – 199.00%2$500 - $4,000

Visit OppLoans

5.99% – 24.99%3$5,000 - $40,000

Visit Happy Money

7.99% – 20.88%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

7.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $36,500

Visit LendingPoint

10.68% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

9.95% – 35.99%7$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates from 7.99% APR to 23.43% APR APR reflect the 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 8/22/22 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.


2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

Direct Deposit required for payroll.

Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.

  5. Rates and terms vary by state.


3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Happy Money.

Happy Money Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Rates and offer subject to change. All accounts, loans and services subject to individual approval.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

Applications submitted on this website may be funded by one of several lenders, including: FinWise Bank, a Utah-chartered bank, Member FDIC; Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC; Midland States Bank, Member FDIC; and LendingPoint, a licensed lender in certain states. Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 7% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. Loans are offered from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from 7.99% to 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 72 months. Minimum loan amounts apply in Georgia, $3,500; Colorado, $3,001; and Hawaii, $1,500. For a well-qualified customer, a $10,000 loan for a period of 48 months with an APR of 24.34% and origination fee of 7% will have a payment of $327.89 per month. (Actual terms and rate depend on credit history, income, and other factors.) The $15,575.04 total amount due under the loan terms provided as an example in this disclaimer includes the origination fee financed in addition to the loan amount. Customers may have the option to deduct the origination fee from the disbursed loan amount if desired. If the origination fee is added to the financed amount, interest is charged on the full principal amount. The total amount due is the total amount of the loan you will have paid after you have made all payments as scheduled.


6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.


7 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.

Based on the responses from 7,302 customers in a survey of 140,258 newly funded customers, conducted from August 1, 2018 – August 1, 2019, 95.11% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 7.46%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 1.85% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. Loans feature repayment terms of 24 to 84 months. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.59% APR (which includes a 13.94% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $341.48. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,293.46. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s bank partners. Information on Upgrade’s bank partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/bank-partners/ .