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If you need outside financing to help start your business, you will likely try to avoid small business loans. The more natural thing to do is to try to receive a grant, however, there is a very limited supply of grants. If you need financing, the most common available options are small business loans or business credit cards. There is a serious competition for the short pool of available small business grants, and you have to devote a lot of time and energy towards completing an application. However, if you can deal with the challenge, the reward will be great. Here are some places that female entrepreneurs can try to find small business grants.

Local Small Business Grants

Due to federal small business grants being limited in their availability, you may find more appealing options by looking at the state and municipal levels.

Women’s Business Centers

The US Small Business Administration sponsors multiple Women’s Business Centers throughout the nation that are designed to help female entrepreneurs develop their businesses and find access to capital. The California Capital Financial Development Corporation may give you a direct loan, while others can help you find loans that you qualify for.

Small Business Development Centers

There are multiple development centers throughout the nation, primarily at different colleges and universities. These development centers offer free, individual business consulting. Schedule a meeting with your SBDC advisor, who can give you information about different business opportunities in your area.

Economic Development Agencies

Different states and even some cities have economic development agencies that are focused on maintaining a strong local economy. While the agency may not offer you a grant, they can assist you in the process.

Federal Small Business Grants

The federal government offers grants to owners, but they are designated for specific purposes; such as research or development projects. Be aware that these grants do not cover startup costs or daily expenses.

InnovateHER Challenge

The SBA hosts an annual competition for businesses with a product or service that can potentially change women’s lives. To become eligible, you must win a local InnovateHER Challenge.

Grants.Gov is a database of federally sponsored grants. Be sure to search specifically for small businesses.

Innovation Research And Technology Transfer Programs

The SBA oversees these programs that provide grants to small businesses that contribute to federal research and development. Multiple federal agencies post grant opportunities on their websites.

Private Female Small Business Grants

Amber Grant

The Amber Grant Foundation provides financial support to a different female owned business on a monthly basis. The foundation looks for women that have great passion for their work and a good story.

Eileen Fisher Women Owned Business Grant

Clothing retailer Eileen Fisher awards thousands of dollars to different female business owners each year. To qualify, women must make up at least half of the business’s ownership and leadership, the business should be open for at least three years, and it should focus on creating environmental or social change.

Other Grants To Consider

FedEx Small Business Grant

FedEx awards money to multiple small businesses every year. On your application, explain your business and what you would use the grant for.

Mission Main Street Grants

Chase Bank gives thousands of dollars to small businesses every year through its Mission Main Street Grants Program. To qualify, your business should be in operation for at least two years and you should have a small number of employees. The application also includes different essay questions.