Supporting women entrepreneurs has long been one of my passions. The SCORE website and this blog are two great resources to help you start or grow your business.
Running a business is hard. And I would argue that running a business as a woman is even harder.
According to the World Economic Forum’s World Gender Gap Report, women work on average 50 more minutes a day or 39 more days a year than our male counterparts. And women still carry the bulk of unpaid work — including chores and childcare — on top of their day jobs.
For an entrepreneur seeking financing, the ultimate fantasy (well, except for winning the lottery) is receiving a grant. That’s because grants, unlike loans, don’t need to be repaid. Nor do they require you to give up some of your precious ownership in your business the way investors do.
As you might expect, grants aren’t exactly easy to come by. Similar to scholarships that students earn for college, finding grants for which you are eligible, going through the application process, and following up requires time and effort. However, the payoff can be worth it.
Grants exist for all types of reasons and from many sources. The federal government gives grants; so do nonprofits and corporations.
In this post, I’m focusing on grants for women business owners.
As women entrepreneurs have become a major force in the world of small business, there’s less and less need for grants programs specifically aimed at women. However, some still exist: here are five of them.
1. The Amber Grant
This grant honors the memory of a young woman who wanted to be an entrepreneur but died at age 19 before she could achieve her goal. Launched 20 years ago and operated by WomensNet, this program gives a monthly $1,000 grant to one woman business owner. At year-end, one of the monthly winners is chosen for an additional $10,000 grant. Learn more about the Amber Grant.
2. Cartier Women's Initiative Awards
This global grant for women entrepreneurs is open to women worldwide, as long as they are in the initial stages of developing their businesses. Out of seven global regions, a total of 21 finalists are chosen. All the finalists get personalized business coaching, attend entrepreneurship workshops, and have access to networking events. Businesses that meet the proper criteria also receive a scholarship to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Programme. In addition, seven laureates receive $100,000 in prize money, and 14 finalists receive $30,000.
3. Tory Burch Fellows
Entrepreneur Tory Burch founded the Tory Burch Foundation to help women business owners succeed. The Foundation’s Tory Burch Fellows program chooses 10 Fellows annually; each receives a $10,000 grant, a trip to Tory Burch headquarters for three days of networking and workshops, and a year of ongoing support. Each Fellow is also given the opportunity to pitch their business concept to a panel of judges and compete for a $100,000 investment. (Half of the money is a grant and half is a recoverable grant, which is equivalent to a zero-interest loan). Learn more about Tory Burch Fellows.
4. Open Meadows Foundation
The Open Meadows Foundation gives grants of $2,000 to women-led organizations that promote gender, racial and economic justice and that work to benefit women and girls. Organizations receiving grants may not have a budget of over $75,000; small and startup organizations get priority. These grants are not open to for-profit businesses. If you are starting a nonprofit, learn more and apply for a grant.
This isn’t a specific grant, but a website that provides information about obtaining grants and a directory of grants for women. Most of the grants listed are for nonprofit organizations; however, there are some available for-profit businesses.
Any business owner looking for a grant should be sure to visit Grants.gov which is a central clearinghouse for information about federal government grants. The government awards grants to help provide public services or to stimulate the U.S. economy. Visit Grants.gov to learn the basics of grants, get tips for applying and find out how to protect yourself from scams. You can also use the site to look for federal government grants relevant to your business. Then register with Grants.gov (it’s free) to submit your applications with the online tool.
Finally, whatever type of financing you're looking for—grants, business loans or investments—the experts at SCORE can help you find it. Get matched with a SCORE mentor, and find the financing you need to make your dreams a reality.
by Bridget Weston Pollack
Originally published on May 24, 2018, on SCORE.org
When it comes to the world of business, a recent SCORE study seems to indicate that the struggle for success is gender-neutral.
In Parts 2 and 3 of “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship” data report, SCORE focused on funding for men- and women-owned businesses and mentorship.
This piece delves into the reasons men and women need financing, their funding sources, the variances between each gender when it comes to financing, and the benefits of mentorship.
The majority of men and women surveyed consider their businesses their primary source of income. Sixty-two percent of women entrepreneurs stated that their business is their primary source of income, while 69% of men did. Men were 9% more likely to seek financing than women, and men were 3% more likely to successfully acquire loans or equity financing.
Needs for Money
Despite men seeking financing more often, women and men sought financing for almost identical reasons. These reasons included, growing the business (59% women, 58% men), helping with cash flow (48% women, 47% men), purchasing new equipment (38% women, 40% men), and launching a new marketing campaign (30% for men and women) among others. The exception being, women were 4% less likely to seek funding to launch a new product than men.
There are several funding sources available for businesses. They range from personal savings, credit cards, SBA loans, equity investors and other types of loans. Men and women both struggle to obtain financing for their businesses, and most business owners do not secure any loans or traditional financing.
The biggest differences in funding sources between men and women came from credit cards and equity from investors. Seven percent more women reportedly use credit cards as funding for their businesses as opposed to men. Meanwhile, men are 8% more likely to utilize equity raised from investors. The majority of men and women seek funding from a multitude of different loans outside of what was surveyed.
SCORE’s report shows that entrepreneurs who seek mentorship significantly increase their chances of success regardless of gender. In line with the rest of the report, mentorship showed to be equally beneficial to men and women regardless of the gender of the mentor.
Some women expressed that they prefer other women as mentors due to similar struggles in business and certain industries. As one woman put it, “a woman’s perspective is particularly helpful in the fashion/design/retail industry, as women are my target customer, and I work mostly with women. Women are also able to understand the unique challenges to females in business and provide a tangible example of what I can become.”
Overall, men and women want mentors who are helpful, good at listening and assessing business issues, provide sound advice, and who are respectful much more than what gender they are.
The “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship” data report demonstrates that the disparities between men and women are extremely slight in all aspects of business. They’re equally successful in their businesses, their financing needs are similar, they seek funding in similar areas, and they work well with mentors regardless of their gender.
If you are looking for an expert business expert to help lead your business to success, reach out today to find a SCORE mentor. We’re an equal opportunity mentorship program!