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Grants and investment resources for women and minority businesses.

For many small businesses, especially those in their infancy, grants are a valuable tool used to supplement other financing when starting or growing a business. Below are several grants and investor opportunities available specifically for women and minority businesses.

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Grants for Women

  • WomensNet Amber Grant: In order to honor the memory of Amber Wigdahl, who died at 19 years old before realizing her business dreams, WomensNet gives $10,000 every month in Amber Grant money, as well as an Annual $25,000 grant to women in business.
  • Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards: Female entrepreneurs leading a for-profit early-stage business (1 to 3 years) with the potential to grow significantly are encouraged to apply for this grant, which can reach 6 figures.
  • American Association of University Women: AAUW has funded the educations of countless women through fellowships, grants and awards in nearly every imaginable field of endeavor for more than 130 years.
  • Tory Burch Foundation — Fellows Program: This year-long Fellows Program for women entrepreneurs helps founders of early-stage companies grow and scale, through workshops with expert instructors, a rich peer-to-peer network, a business education grant and access to capital.

Grants for Women of Color

  • Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grant: This program, which awards four grants of $10,000 each, is open to for-profit businesses that are majority-owned by a Black woman (cisgender or transgender) or a Black femme-identified individual.
  • New Voices Fund: This groundbreaking initiative provides women of color entrepreneurs with unprecedented access, capital, and expertise needed to excel by funding start-ups, established businesses, and community-based enterprises.
  • Tory Burch Foundation — Women of Color Grant Program: In partnership with the Fearless Fund and The Cru, the Tory Burch Foundation is awarding a total of seventy-five deserving women of color-owned small businesses $10,000- $20,000 each as well as access to a peer network to help them continue to build and grow their business.
  • SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant: By partnering with Winky Lux, bluemercury, twelveNYC, Twilio, and other sponsors, SOGAL is providing several $10K and $5K cash grants to Black women or non-binary entrepreneurs, along with tactical support navigating the fundraising environment so that they will have a more equitable opportunity at scaling the next billion dollar idea.

Grants for Small Businesses Including Women and Minority-Owned Businesses

  • Grants for Small Businesses funded by Verizon: Verizon has committed $10 million to provide grants to small businesses through LISC to support financial recovery and aid in survival through the pandemic and beyond.
  • FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: Any for-profit small business that has been operating for at least six months and has fewer than 99 employees is eligible to enter to receive one of 12 small business grants of up to $50,000.
  • Fast Break for Small Business: This program from LegalZoom, the NBA, WNBA, and NBA G League, is intended to assist small businesses through $10,000 grants and credits for LegalZoom services. The grant program is focused on reaching entrepreneurs of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, low- to moderate-income small business owners, immigrants, and others who have historically had limited access to financing for their business.
  • IdeaCafé: The organization awards one grant annually in the amount of $1,000 in cash, a total of $1,500 in advertising credits and tons of free publicity, for the small business with the most inspirational owners and most original approach.

Investors in Women and Minority-Owned Businesses

  • Backstage Capital: Startup founders who identify as a Woman, Person of Color, and/or LGBTQ in all industries, and whose businesses are highly scalable, could qualify for an investor.
  • BBG Ventures: Every company in their portfolio has at least one female founder because they believe the greatest untapped opportunity for venture capital lies in backing women who are using technology to address common life-challenges and transform daily habits.
  • BELLE Capital USA: This early-stage fund is focused on building great companies in underserved capital markets. Companies seeking capital must have at least one female founder or C-level exec, and/or be willing to recruit top female talent to the C-suite and Board of Directors.
  • Black Girl Ventures: This organization creates place-based initiatives to provide access to capital for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs by using support and training as a vehicle for poverty alleviation and wealth building.
  • Female Founders Fund: Their portfolio companies all share something in common — each is led by talented female founders with disruptive and innovative ideas that better serve their consumer.
  • Golden Seeds: A discerning group of investors, they seek high-potential, women-led businesses in order to fund companies that are likely to have diverse perspectives that will contribute to ultimate success.
  • 37 Angel: This funding solution could be right for women-owned startups looking for investment. About one-third of their portfolio is women founders, and they are actively trying to close the gender gap in startup investing. 

Connecticut Based Grants

  • Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC): The WBDC is expanding its microgrant and technical assistance programs for businesses throughout Connecticut. Equity Match Grants are awarded to select applicants who have a clearly defined project where the grant will have a measurable impact on the business, its growth and profitability. Approximately 100 grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded each year of the five-year program.
  • Black Business Alliance (BBA): Approximately 20 grants of up to $15,000 will be awarded each year of the five-year program. Grant funds can be used for the purchase of assets and working capital expenses. Awards will be made two-three times a year. Applications are submitted on the BBA website. Targeted businesses for funding include those currently engaged in technical assistance services with the BBA. Priority is given to minority, women, disabled, and veteran-owned businesses and businesses located in distressed municipalities.
  • Hartford Economic Development Corporation (HEDCO)/Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA): A grant and technical assistance program for small businesses designed to expand financial support, create an ecosystem of providers and additional resources for small businesses, and offer training workshops, seminars, and support for young entrepreneurs. Priority is given to minority, women, disabled, LGBTQ+, and veteran-owned businesses and businesses located in distressed municipalities. Each grant is capped at $30,000. A closing fee of $250 is assessed for each grant up to $15,000 and $500 for grants up to $30,000. For more information about SAMA, click here.
  • Minority Construction Council (MCC): MCC is targeting small businesses in the construction industries located in the greater Bridgeport, Waterbury, New London, Norwich, and New Britain regions. Priority is given to minority, women, disabled, and veteran-owned businesses and businesses located in distressed areas. Technical assistance includes SAM registration, designation webinars, Concord Business registration, DAS prequalification webinars, development and construction safety trainings, loan and grant assistance.
  • Realist Lab Venture Launch Fellows Program: This program is designed to support business owners and build toward a more equitable and inclusive future for Connecticut residents. Grants range from $5,000 to $25,000, for a total of $200,000 each year of the five-year program. Eligible businesses include venture backable startup companies, new small businesses without technology to scale and increase revenue, must be independently owned and operated (not a franchise location), based in Connecticut, and priority is given to minority, women, disabled, veteran-owned businesses and business located in distressed municipalities.
  • Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region Corporation (SeCTer): A grant and technical assistance program that provides seed and growth funds to startup and existing businesses in southeastern Connecticut. SeCTer expects to award 95-100 grants each year of the five-year program. Grant amounts range from $500 to $200,000, and can be used for working capital, equipment, and business debt consolidation.
  • Social Enterprise Trust, Inc. (reSET): A grant and technical assistance program with different components for new and existing small retail and food related businesses located primarily in the greater Hartford region. Grant awardees must have participated in a corresponding technical assistance program. Grants range from $500 to $2,000.
  • The Community Foundation Mission Investment Company – Community Foundation for Greater New Haven: A financial and technical assistance program designed to build a more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem and a more resilient small business landscape in Greater New Haven. Grants range from $500-$50,000.
  • Middlesex County Revitalization Commission (MCRC): A grant and technical assistance program for small businesses in Middlesex County that are still recovering from COVID-19 or those affected by ongoing road and infrastructure projects. Each grant award, based on the needs of the business and available resources, is capped at $25,000.
  • Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc (CCAT): CCAT provides grants to start-up companies that are housed in Connecticut incubator facilities through the Small Business Incubator Grant Program.
  • Connecticut Innovations (CI): CI is a quasi-public organization that serves as Connecticut’s strategic venture capital arm. Working in partnership with a number of public/private partners,  CI offers strategic guidance, timely connections and equity investments to help promising businesses thrive.