Finding funding can be the most challenging part of getting your business off the ground. Sadly, this obstacle can be more difficult for minority owned small businesses. 

Just how difficult?

 According to the Minority Business Development Agency, minority businesses with gross receipts less than $500,000 are denied loans at a rate nearly 3 times higher than their nonminority counterparts.

The good news is that minority small business grants can help you fill funding gaps. 

The 7 Best Minority Business Grants

In late 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency announced more than $3 million in funding for American Indian-, Alaska Native- and Native Hawaiian-owned businesses.  

Minority business grants don’t stop there. Here are several grant opportunities: 

1. National Black MBA Association Scale-Up Pitch Challenge

This annual small business grant sponsored by FedEx is awarded to members of the National Black MBA Association. The challenge is designed for start-up businesses aiming to “make big ideas bigger.” Semifinalists present their business pitches, covering their products or services, revenue model and estimate, target audience, market size and differentiators. 

If you’re searching for black business grants and you’re in the process of starting your business, don’t miss this grant opportunity. For 2019, the challenge featured a $50,000 grand prize, second- and third-place prizes of $10,000 and $1,500 and a $1,000 people’s choice award.

2. Asian Women Giving Circle

Since 2006, this organization has been dedicated to funding artists and cultural projects in New York. To be considered for funding, an applicant must be working to bring about social transformation while raising awareness of issues impacting Asian American women, girls and families. 

The maximum grant amount per winner is $15,000. The total number of awarded grants is based on available funding. In 2019, this organization awarded a total of $78,000. The Asian Women Giving Circle awards grant monies annually. 

3. First Nations Development Institute Grants

First Nations Development Institute has been offering grants in support of Native American organizations and projects since 1993. To date, the Institute has awarded more than $34.9 million. 

Funding in support of Native American small business grants has been among some of the sponsored opportunities. Relevant grants have included the Native Youth Business Plan Competition, which is open to young entrepreneurs with a startup business idea, and the Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to Support Native Farmers & Ranchers. 

4. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

This contest is open to for-profit businesses in operation for at least 6 months with no more than 99 employees. Twelve winners will receive grants for their business and FedEx printing and business services. 

Prize packages range from $15,000 to $50,000. Each winner of the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is awarded credit for FedEx print and business services ranging from $1,000 to $7,500.

Additionally, every winner receives the following:

  • Website optimization or website audit
  • Trip to FedEx headquarters in Memphis, Tenn.
  • Print expert consultation
  • $300 My FedEx Rewards voucher

5. National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grants

If you’re a member of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), you can apply for the group’s small business growth grants. 

There are various membership levels available, ranging from $25 to $120 annually, and monthly memberships also are available. One grant is awarded per month, up to $4,000. Grant applications are reviewed quarterly. Criteria include use of proceeds and the impact of grant funds on the overall business growth. Funds can’t be used to pay debt, rent or mortgage payments. 

6. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs

The Small Business Administration (SBA) oversees the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding programs, which are options to consider if you’re a high-tech business looking for SBA grants for minorities. 

The SBIR program provides small business funding to support the needs of federal agencies in need of assistance with technological innovation, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense. Small business owners submit proposals to participating federal agencies that are looking for assistance with research, design and development of new technologies. 

The STTR program funds opportunities for small businesses to partner with research institutions to conduct research and development. 

7. USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grants

This U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise Grants program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of organizations in rural areas. Funds can be used for land purchases, equipment, construction, pollution control, among other needs. 

There is no maximum grant amount; however, smaller requests are given higher priority. Generally, grants range from $10,000 to $500,000. Applicants must have fewer than 50 employees and have less than $1 million in gross revenue.

A minority woman seated next to her male partner smiles as he shakes hands with a grant provider.

5 Tips for Applying for Minority Owned Business Grants 

One of the clear advantages minority owned business grants hold over small business loans and credit cards is that they’re essentially free money that you don’t have to pay back.

As you might expect, they’re in high demand and the application process can be quite competitive and daunting.

But don’t get discouraged. By following these tips, you can maximize your time and your chances of being awarded a minority business grant

1. Do Your Research

Identifying all the minority small business grant opportunities that are a good fit for your small business is a challenge. Consult with your local Small Business Development Center or SCORE office to learn about grant options that are relevant to your business. 

Also, online resources such as Grants.gov are great tools to find and apply for open opportunities.

2. Verify Your Eligibility

The grant application process can be daunting. Before you begin, it’s essential to verify that your business meets the specific demographic, education and business requirements of the minority small business grant you’re seeking.

3. Make Some Time

The calendars of entrepreneurs and small business owners are often jam-packed, so it’s easy to push off non-essential tasks, such as applying for your minority business grant. Don’t make this mistake. Block off your schedule to give this task the due diligence it deserves.

4. Get Organized

Keeping track of all the minority small business grants you qualify for, their various application forms and deadlines can be a messy affair. To keep everything in order, create a spreadsheet containing pertinent information related to the application process.

5. Define Your Business Plan

Whatever minority owned business grant you pursue, a well-crafted business plan will surely be a requirement. Make sure to describe why your business will be successful. Also, explain how you’ll use the funds from the minority small business grant. Finally, be sure to detail how you’ll fulfill the specific goals of the grant.

A group of men and women are brainstorming in a business office.

Resources for Researching Minority Small Business Grants 

These online resources are a good place to start when researching how to get grant money for minority business owners. Whether you’re looking for black minority business grants or grants for Hispanic owned businesses, the following resources can help you find free funding opportunities.

SBA

The SBA is home to a wealth of information for small business owners looking to start and grow their business. Here you can easily identify many programs specifically tailored to your demographic, including grants. 

The SBA also works with partner lenders to provide small business owners financing, and SBA loans are known for their competitive rates and terms. 

Grants.gov

Wondering how to get government grants for minority business endeavors? If you’re looking for federally sponsored grants, one of the best places to start is Grants.gov. Search through a real-time database of all federal grants, including those reserved for small business owners. Look for government grants for Hispanic small business owners, grants for black business owners, funds for Asian entrepreneurs and more. 

Minority Business Development Agency

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is specifically designed to advance the growth of minority businesses. On the MBDA website, there’s information about a variety of small business funding options for minorities, including available minority small business grants.

Obtain the Capital You Need to Grow and Succeed

There’s no getting around it: to set your entrepreneurial endeavors in motion, you need capital. Fortunately, there are plenty of small business funding options available to minority entrepreneurs looking to expand their operations. 

In addition to small business loans for minorities, grants can help you close the funding gap. Keep an eye out for open minority small business grant opportunities. Then take the time to apply.

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