18 Best Small Business Grants for Minorities
Are you a minority business owner looking to start or grow your business? Here’s a list of the best small business grants for minorities. Minority grants are available from the government and private sources.
Minority business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs often face various obstacles when starting or expanding their ventures, including the lack of access to funding. The good news is that many small grants are available to help minority-owned small businesses get off the ground. These small business grants for minorities can be found through government agencies, foundations, and private companies.
We’ve compiled this comprehensive resource to take a deeper dive into minority small business grants: what are they, who qualifies, and what are the top opportunities available? Continue reading to learn more.
What is a Small Business Minority Grant?
A small business grant is a type of business financing award made by a company or organization to support the growth and development of minority-owned businesses. This type of financial assistance is designed to assist with the startup costs of launching a new venture. In addition, the purpose of these types of grants is to create jobs in communities where minorities live and thrive. In other words, minority business grants combat economic disparities by promoting minority business owners.
Who Qualifies for a Minority Business Grant?
The individuals eligible to receive minority business financing are people of color or identify as non-white. This includes African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and any individual who identifies as members of those ethnic groups. Individuals from all backgrounds can apply for minority business grants if they meet the criteria established by the organizations offering them.
If you’re a non-white business owner looking to scale your operations, you should consider capitalizing on these grant opportunities. They provide small business owners from marginalized populations the resources to launch viable enterprises and give them a leg up for competing against larger corporations and industries.
Top Minority Grant Opportunities
Now that you know what minority small business grants are and their purpose, it’s time to look into some of the best opportunities available. In doing so, we hope to empower you with the knowledge needed to make wise decisions about the next steps in your search for funding.
If you’re seeking to apply for federal government business loans or grants for minorities, the U.S. Government’s official online portal – Grants.gov – is the place to start. It can help you find government grant opportunities and connect you with the appropriate government partners.
Additionally, Grants.gov provides an accessible yet robust application form that helps streamline the process when applying for grants. Plus, anyone applying doesn’t need to worry about paying anything upfront—they’ll only be required to pay any fees after receiving confirmation from the awarding agency.
2. SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
The SBA 8(a) program is nine-year program created to help firms owned and operated by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals. To qualify for the SBA 8(a) program, you must:
- Be a small business
- Not have participated before
- Portray excellent character
- Be at least 51% owned and run by economically and socially disadvantaged U.S. citizens
- Portray a potential for success, e.g., being in business for two years
- Have a personal net worth of $750,000 or less, assets totaling $6 million or less, and adjusted gross income of $350,000 or less
The program provides several advantages, including access to low-interest small business loans and working capital, training and technical assistance, and marketing campaigns. Among the most recent recipients of this grant were the California Dream Act Coalition and the California African American Museum & Cultural Center. Each received a total of $1 million to expand their operations.
3. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
The MBDA is a federal government agency tasked with fueling the growth and competitiveness of minority business owners. The agency has unique programs that offer customized business development and industry-specific services to provide access to capital, contracts, and markets to minority-owned companies.
What’s more, the Minority Business Ownership Development Program provides up to $500,000 per year in matching dollars to support minority entrepreneurs who seek to establish new businesses, expand existing businesses, or purchase other companies.
4. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
FedEx organizes an annual grant contest, awarding 12 minority grants for small business up to $50,000. To be eligible to enter the grant contest, you must:
- Be a for-profit small business owner
- Have been operating for at least six months
- Have fewer than 99 employees
The annual deadline for submission is mid-November. The contest rewards the winners and promotes small businesses, allowing them to gain exposure through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
5. Asian Women Giving Circle (AWGC) Grants
AWGC is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to provide financial aid to Asian women-owned businesses. It offers business financing of up to $15,000 to qualified applicants. The AWGC also conducts workshops on entrepreneurship, budgeting, accounting, and legal issues. Additionally, it holds networking events where members can meet one another and learn how to benefit from their experiences.
To qualify for AWGC grants, you must:
- Be an Asian-American woman based in NYC
- Demonstrate commitment to your work or business
- Be applying to support a specific project rather than ongoing programs, capital, operations, or endowment
6. Operation HOPE Small Business Development Program
Operation HOPE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people overcome poverty by providing business training and employment opportunities. In addition to its free Job Skills Training Program, which allows individuals to get back on their feet after being laid off, the operation also runs the Small Business Development Program. This program provides funding for small businesses owned by people living in poverty. Their mission is to help these businesses grow and thrive.
Here are some heartwarming stats demonstrating the milestones achieved by Operation HOPE thus far:
- 75,000 empowered entrepreneurs
- 1,122+ small businesses created through the HOPE Small Business Development Program
- 2 million financial dignity services rendered to adults
7. Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grants
Merchant Maverick is a comparison site that offers reviews of small business services and software. Their company was founded in 2009, and since then, it has awarded millions in minority grants to entrepreneurs in various niches.
To apply for this program, you must meet their requirements, which vary each year depending on which industry and disadvantaged group they are awarding grants to that year.
8. National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Scale-Up Pitch Challenge
Have you heard of the scale-up pitch challenge tailored for black minority businesses? If not, no worries. It’s a program sponsored by NBMBAA, a nonprofit association whose mission is to empower African American entrepreneurs by making their big dreams bigger through creating scalable startups.
The scale-up challenge provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect and network with early-stage investors and venture capitalists. The challenge winner usually walks away with $50,000, while the first and second runners-up take home $10,000 and $7,500, respectively. There’s also the people’s choice award of $1000, whose winner usually gets voted in by the audience.
9. National Minority Supplier Development Council
NMSDC is a nonprofit association that works to increase diversity among suppliers and contractors. Its goal is to develop minority-owned companies and strengthen their ability to compete globally. NMSDC offers grants ranging between $5,000 and $150,000 to minority-owned businesses to achieve this.
You must demonstrate that you have a strong track record in business development and marketing before you can apply for NMSDC grants.
10. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STRR) Programs
The U.S. government established the SBIR and STRR programs to encourage innovation and technology transfer from academic institutions to private industry. They provide research support to small business owners that want to commercialize their inventions or technologies. These programs are administered by the Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation.
To qualify for SBR/STRR funding, you need to:
- Identify a participating agency interested in your topic area
- Apply to a specific solicitation
11. National Association for the Self-Employed, NASE
National Association for the Self-Employed is a nonprofit trade association committed to helping self-employed minority business owners start or upscale their businesses. NASE offers grants of up to $4,000 and serves as a valuable resource center for those seeking to start their businesses.
To enjoy these benefits, you must:
- Be an active member of the association
- Explain, in detail, how you’ll use the funds
- Illustrate how the grant will support your business growth
- Provide supporting documentation
12. The Coalition to Back Black Businesses
If you’re a black-owned business seeking a funding opportunity, here’s your chance. The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is a coalition of organizations dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship among minorities. By joining the organization, you can access its resources, including a list of local community banks that offer loans to minority businesses.
Year after year, the coalition supports hundreds of small black-owned businesses with grants of $5,000. To be eligible for the program, businesses must meet the following conditions:
- Have 3-20 employees
- Be located in an economically-disadvantaged area
- Be a black owned enterprise in a qualifying industry
13. First Nations Development Institute (FNDI)
First Nations Development Institute is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the economic position of Native Americans by offering grants, technical guidance, and business training. In addition, FNDI provides microfinance services to rural and urban communities through credit unions and other financial institutions.
You may apply for a grant if you:
- Are a member of an indigenous group
- Demonstrate financial need and commitment to improving the lives of others
14. Fast Break for Small Business
Fast Break for Small Business is a national network of nonprofits that help entrepreneurs launch new ventures and grow existing ones. The organization provides grants ranging between $500 and $10,000 to qualified applicants denied traditional bank financing. This program offered through the Action Opportunity Fund is a collaboration with LegalZoom, NBA, WNBA and NBA G League to aid communities in starting successful small businesses.
To apply for this program, you must:
- Demonstrate a strong track record of success
- Have been in business for 6-12 months
- Submit a detailed plan on how you intend to use the money
- Be based in the United States
- Have annual revenue less than $1 million
15. Sephora Accelerate
Sephora Accelerate Program is a partnership between Sephora and the National Minority Supplier Development Council. The program aims to support minority-owned businesses by providing mentorship, training, technical guidance, marketing tools, and capital.
To participate in this program, you must have a product that falls into one of these categories:
16. USDA Rural Business Development Grants
USDA Rural Business Development Grants are available to small business owners operating in rural areas. These business loans can be used to finance equipment, inventory, real estate improvements, and more.
You must meet specific eligibility criteria to qualify for these grants, namely:
- Operate from rural areas
- Own less than 500 acres of land
- Have fewer than 50 employees
- Accumulate less than $1 million in gross revenue
17. USDA Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program
The USDA Water & Waste Discharge Loan & Grant Program was created to help farmers and ranchers pay for water and waste disposal systems. It also provides funding for projects related to wastewater treatment facilities.
To qualify for these loans, you must:
- Be a farmer or rancher
- Live in a rural area
- Have a loan application pending before the USDA
- Apply for a loan no later than March 31st each year
18. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program
The DBE Program seeks to support small businesses owned by minorities, women, and other disadvantaged groups. The program has three primary goals:
- Increase employment opportunities for minorities
- Improve access to credit for small business owners
- Promote economic development in communities where there are large numbers of minority small businesses owners
To be eligible for a DBE program, you must meet the following criteria:
- Own at least 51% stake in a small business located in an economically and socially disadvantaged community
- Have a personal net worth of less than $1.32 million
- Your business must not be tied to any other firm
- Have the managerial and technical competence to run the business
Frequently Asked Questions about Business Grants for Minorities
Are Minority Grants Easy to Obtain?
The process of determining worthwhile applications can vary from each program you apply to. The applicants with the best acceptance rates have solid business plans, properly articulate how they plan to use the funds, and can demonstrate how the grant will further improve the lives of those working for or around the company.
Can I Apply for Multiple Small Business Grants?
Yes, as long as you meet the criteria, you can apply for as many as you want. In addition, most organizations offer different types of small business grants.
How Much Money Do Grants Cost?
Most grants don’t charge anything upfront. Instead, they provide funds after you’ve completed specific requirements. For example, some grants require you to complete a project within a specified period.
What Happens When My Application Gets Rejected?
If your application is denied, you’ll receive a letter explaining why. If this happens, you should contact the organization that provided the grant. They will explain what went wrong with your application and how to improve it next time you apply.
Is There a Limit on the Number of Times I Can Apply for a Small Business Grant?
No. You’re free to submit as many applications as you like. However, most organizations have limits on how often you can reapply for a particular grant type. This helps them manage their resources effectively.
Do I Need Experience Running a Small Business to Get a Minority Grant?
You don’t need prior experience to apply for all grants for minority business owners, though some require it. However, most organizations favor applicants who know how to run a business successfully. So having experience is an added advantage.
Don’t Allow a Lack of Funding
to Hold your Business Back
It’s Time To Move Your Business Forward!