Free Grant Programs For Small Businesses

The life-blood of any small business is to have available working capital, namely money. There are many types and sizes of small business loans available, but these create debt and interest expense. Plus, loans are risky because if the business can’t make the payments there can be serious consequences.

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Another way for a small business to raise money is by getting a grant. Unlike loans, grants usually do not have to be repaid and incur no interest expense. While loan programs are very well known and accessible, grant programs for small businesses are not as prevalent. Unfortunately, grants also require much more research, time and leg work. But the time and effort is well worth it, because if you succeed in getting a grant, you will have essentially raised “free” money for your business. Even selling stock in your business or taking in a partner is not free as it will cost you equity.

So, while it may be more difficult to secure a small business grant compared to a loan, it is definitely worth it to try. While the SBA is famous for their various small business loan programs, they do not offer grants to them. But as you will see below, there are numerous sources of small business grant programs available.

Small-Business

Federal Government Small Business Grants

While the Federal SBA doesn’t offer grants to small businesses, there are some other Federal sources for such grants.

– Grants.gov: A searchable comprehensive database of federal government small business grants administered by various agencies, such as the departments of Energy, Health, Education and Veterans Affairs. This should be your starting place in searching for a grant.

– Technology Innovation and Scientific Research grants: The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs help connect small businesses with federal grants and contracts from 11 government agencies.

– Rural Business Development Grant Program: This USDA program provides financing to strengthen and grow small businesses in rural communities. Businesses must have fewer than 50 employees, less than $1 million in gross revenue and be located in an eligible rural area to qualify.

State and Regional Grants

– Economic Development Administration: The U.S. Department of Commerce administers this program for local communities to support economic
growth and encourage entrepreneurship. Each state’s EDA agency helps businesses find financing (including state or regional grants), secure
locations and recruit employees.

– Small Business Development Centers: There are SBDC’s located in most cities across the nation. They can help connect you with small business
grants, as well as other business financing opportunities — plus, counseling, training and technical assistance.

– Minority Business Development Agency: The MBDA has a nationwide network of local agencies, dedicated to growing and promoting minority-
owned small businesses. Each center can help you apply for federal, state and local business grants. Plus, the agency usually holds an annual small-
business grant competition.

Small Business Grants Funded By Large Corporations

There are some big companies that will actually help fund small businesses via grant programs. Some of them include:

– FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: This famous company runs an annual grant competition. It awards over $250,000 to 10 small businesses,
including a $50,000 grant and $4,000 in FedEx print and business services to its three grand prize winners. The contest is open to U.S.-based for-profit
small businesses that have been operating at least six months, with no more than 99 employees.

– National Association for the Self-Employed: Members of this organization can apply for monthly small-business grants worth up to $4,000. Grants are
awarded year-round, with completed applications reviewed quarterly in January, April, July and October.

– Fast Break for Small Business: This grant program run by Accion Opportunity Fund offers $10,000 grants for small-business owners. This program
focuses on helping businesses in underserved and underrepresented communities. Applications are open twice a year.

New Business and Start-Up Grants

While it is easier to locate and secure grant financing for an established business, there are some grant programs available for newer businesses:

– U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Their annual Dream Big Awards recognizes a small business for its contributions to the U.S. economy and offers a grant
of $25,000. The competition also gives awards to businesses in a variety of specialized categories. Your business needs to have been in operation for
one year to qualify.

– Hello Alice Grant Platform: Hello Alice works with a variety of companies, to offer different grants for small businesses – including startups. You can
create an account to receive notifications about new opportunities and apply to the grants that are relevant to your type of business.

– Amber Grant for Women: Run by WomensNet, it offers a $10,000 monthly Amber Grant and also awards two $25,000 grants on an annual basis. They
also can provide additional funding throughout the year. Startups and existing women-owned businesses are eligible.

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