Resources for Women-Owned Businesses
It’s no secret that women are opening businesses in record number. From small shops to high profile startups, 36% of all businesses in the United States are women-owned businesses; that’s roughly 10 million companies.
These links are provided for informational purposes only. Commerce does not endorse any of the organizations listed in these online resources. As always, do your own research before making a decision.
Access Financing Wizard
Developed by Business USA, this financing wizard is a good initial stop if you’re looking for government funding options. Answer a few questions and the wizard will suggest the best matches. You can use the filters to narrow your search quickly.
Small Business Innovation Research Program
The Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) is designed to encourage businesses to engage in research and development, particularly those with potential for commercialization. You can search for open grants for women in business on the SBIR search platform. Also a list of local Women’s Business Centers (WBCs).
SBA 7(a) Loan Program
The Small Business Administration also offers loans to small businesses that demonstrate a need for funding. You can check out their eligibility requirements and other loan terms on their website.
National Women’s Business Council
A non-partisan federal advisory council that advocates in government, publishes research, and holds events in its DC headquarters, the NWBC also maintains a site containing topics of importance to women business owners. In addition to its interesting fact sheets, NWBC published its annual report, 10 Million Strong: The Tipping Point for Women’s Entrepreneurship.
SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership
In addition to the InnovateHER annual competition, the Small Business Administration’s OWBO offers resources like a national Women’s Business Centers Directory and government procurement opportunities and training.
Women Impacting Public Policy
WIPP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization focused on advancing the causes of women and minorities in business in government, as well as educating women about legislation that affects their businesses.
The following grants are open at various times throughout the year. Please check their website for applications and deadlines.
Women’s Funding Alliance
The Women’s Funding Alliance vision is for all women and girls to have the opportunity to live, lead and thrive. Their mission is to advance leadership and economic opportunity for women and girls in Washington State. They accomplish this by making the case, driving solutions and mobilizing people to make change.
The Amber Grant Foundation awards $500 to a female entrepreneur each month. One of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $1,000 each year. The application is simple and requires a $7 application fee. The advisory board looks for women with passion and a good story.
Eileen Fisher Business Grant Program for Women
This grant awards up to five grants of $12,500 each to wholly women-owned businesses. If you want to apply, your mission must include innovation, environmental sustainability or social consciousness.
Tory Burch Foundation
The Tory Burch Foundation offers female entrepreneurs affordable loans by connecting women with community lenders It is open to businesses operating for at least two years that have a satisfactory credit rating.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards may fit your needs. The winner receives $20,000 in funding and one year of coaching as well as access to an array of networking opportunities. To participate, submit your business proposal online. Finalists fly to France to present their business plans and projects in front of a panel. That alone makes it an attractive award opportunity.
FedEx Think Bigger Small Business Grant Program
The FedEx program, Think Bigger offers up to $75,000 and there is a public voting component to it, giving you a good marketing opportunity as well.
Idea Café Small Business Grant
The Idea Café has different kinds of grants sorted by type, award amount,and the targeted demographic.
InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge
Sponsored by the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership, this challenge awards three winners $70,000 in prize money for businesses that impact the lives of women and have the potential for commercialization.
- 50 Sources of Funding for Women Entrepreneurs by Melinda Briana Epler
- 11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About by Victoria Treyger
- Girl meets Money: 50+ Resources for the Female Entrepreneur by Catherine Ellen
Washington Center for Women in Business
The Washington Center for Women in Business has a mission is to empower entrepreneurs to succeed in business by providing coaching, training, and technical assistance on a wide variety of topics. The WCWB Business Coaches are dedicated to helping the Womanpreneur see her business goals realized. The WCWB offers entrepreneurial training programs, workshops, one-on-one counseling, coaching and special events to women in all stages of business development. Using in-person, phone, and web-based delivery methods, the WCWB provides services throughout most of the State of Washington.
International Women’s Forum
IWF is an invitation-only, membership organization comprised of more than 6,500 diverse and accomplished women from 33 nations on six continents. IWF is dedicated to building better leadership locally and globally. IWF’s charitable arm, the Leadership Foundation, supports high-potential women through leadership development programs – the Fellows Program and the EY Women Athletes Business Network (WABN) Mentoring Program.
National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
You’re bound to find a local chapter of the National Association for Women Business Owners in just about every major city in the country. With membership you will gain access to a resource center that includes a links to funding sources as well as business certification programs, local networking opportunities and customized training.
Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC)
The Women’s Business Development Council offers programs for women at every stage of business ownership, from startups to established businesses. It also hosts the annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference and Technology Makeover Competition. Other services include capital programs, courses and workshops.
U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
The Women’s Chamber of Commerce offers training, access to resources, business certification, retirement planning and lobbying.
Women/Entrepreneur provides resources that motivate female entrepreneurs and inspiring women and girls around the world to start, run and grow their businesses. Resources include online resources, networking events, one on one mentoring, and insight and tips from successful female entrepreneurs.
Female Founders Alliance
The Pink Ceiling, a cross between a VC firm, a ‘pinkubator’ and a consulting enterprise, is an early-stage investment fund run by a team of women. Their mission is—unapologetically—all about the money. From that idea came the Pinkubator—The Pink Ceiling’s in-house startup incubator that puts female-led and focused companies in the room with female success stories in the biz. It is a membership service for women-led or women focused entrepreneurial businesses looking for networking and mentorship.
The Seattle Female Founders Alliance is a private community of female startup founders and CEOs. Their mission is to meaningfully improve the percentage of venture capital invested in, and subsequent success rate of, female-founded startups in Washington. Their approach includes helping each other succeed, and doing it at scale through connecting, amplifying, and referring every founder that joins their community.
EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™
Ernst & Young’s program helps women-owned businesses with $2 million in revenue or above scale quickly. It’s a national competition and executive leadership program that includes year-round education, networking, and events.
The Boss Network
BOSS® is a networking platform and membership organization, primarily for African American women entrepreneurs and professionals. Forbes.com named the BOSS Network one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurial Websites for Women.
Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network
The public face of Dell’s program is organized around the LinkedIn group Women Powering Business Network, a community of over 5,000 members who keep up to date on local events.
Ellevate is a national, membership-based network for women in business that offers educational and career-building opportunities to members, including a member directory and online content.
Hello Fearless is an educational platform that offers online courses, mentorship, and community among women business owners and supporters. Its educational arm, the exclusive Boss School, offers 90-day courses for accepted applicants.
Savor the Success
Savor the Success is an all-online business school, community center, and wellness lifestyle hub for women entrepreneurs, makers and creators. Basic and premium memberships are available.
WEConnect International is a global, membership-based nonprofit that connects women-owned businesses, from suppliers to retailers, across the world. It has over 5,000 members in almost 100 countries.
Women 2.0 is focused primarily on women in technology. Its blog network offers a platform for female entrepreneurs, technologists, investors and innovators and the site connects business owners with conferences, startup competitions, city meet-ups and online investor hangouts.
Mom 2 CEO
The Mom 2 CEO conference gathers “mompreneurs” from across the world to network, learn, build relationships and strategic partnerships, mentor and more.
Even though it doesn’t focus solely on women-owned businesses, Lean In encourages women excellent support and resources community for women as well as a library of free lectures.
Women in Technology International
Women in Technology International provides women in technology with access to support from other professionals in the industry as well as educational resources.
Women Who Launch
Part-community, part-incubator, Women Who Launch has programs available across North America. The goal is to empower women to engage with entrepreneurship, as founders, funders, or team members.
Local and Industry-Specific Groups
Every major metropolitan area has women-led business support groups. A good place to start is MeetUp.com. You can also perform searches online for local business groups or networking organizations in your area.