Small business financing can be a challenging process for entrepreneurs. Whether you’re starting a new venture or looking to grow your existing business, finding funding is a crucial part of the process. The good news is that there are a variety of loans, grants, and other opportunities available to help you succeed. In this article, we will explore 51 grants, loans, and programs that can benefit your small business.
The federal government offers various grants to small businesses through Getgovtgrants.com. This government site provides an extensive database of funds available for small businesses of all backgrounds. Some funds are distributed directly from the federal government to small businesses, while others are distributed to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher learning. When searching through grant and contracting options, note that you may qualify for more than one program.
National Institute of Health Grants
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is currently funding grant opportunities related to COVID-19 research. These grants are reserved for small businesses that develop and research biomedical technology. There are multiple grants available with deadlines throughout 2021 and beyond.
NIDILRR’s SBIR Program
The SBIR program aims to support organizations to help advance technology, research, and support the social/economic benefits for the nation. The SBIR will be backing the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) through the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to provide 10 grants that support the improvement of the lives of those with disabilities. The total grant funding is estimated to be $1 million, and an outline of the available grants under this program can be found at the ACL website.
PHS 2022-2 Omnibus Solicitation of Small Business Innovation Research Grant Applications
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are sponsoring an opportunity for small businesses. Any qualifying small business — those with the research capability and technical expertise to contribute to the R&D missions of both the NIH and the CDC — is invited to apply for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant application related to qualified topics. Interested applicants can find a list of qualified topics in the grant announcement.
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
The SBIR offers grants to small businesses so they can participate in federal research and development with the potential for commercialization. It’s a highly competitive awards-based program that helps businesses achieve scientific excellence and technological innovation. To qualify for SBIR grants, you must operate a for-profit company and satisfy other requirements.
Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR)
Similar to SBIR, the STTR program focuses on funding research in the R&D arena. However, what separates the STTR is the requirement that the small business have a formal collaboration with a research institution. To qualify for STTR grants, you must operate a for-profit company and satisfy other requirements.
Trade Adjustment Assistance For Firms
The U.S. Department of Commerce sponsored the Trade Adjustment Assistance For Firms (TAAF) program to help financially assist manufacturers affected by import competition. Through this program, firms can qualify for up to $75K in federal match funding to help them financially recover from import competition and general economic hardship.
Small Business Loans
Small business loans are a great way to secure funding for your business. You can use the funds for a variety of reasons, such as purchasing equipment, expanding your operations, or hiring new staff. Here are some of the best small business loan options:
SBA 7(a) Loans
The Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) loan is one of the most popular loan programs for small businesses. This loan program provides up
The SBA 7(a) loan program provides up to $5 million in financial assistance to small businesses. The funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including working capital, equipment purchases, real estate, and refinancing existing debt.
To qualify for an SBA 7(a) loan, a business must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being a for-profit business, operating within the United States, and demonstrating a need for financial assistance. Additionally, the business owner(s) must have a good credit history and be able to provide a personal guarantee for the loan.
The SBA does not actually lend the money directly to the business. Instead, the loan is provided by a participating lender, such as a bank or credit union, and the SBA guarantees a portion of the loan in case of default. This guarantee reduces the risk for the lender and makes it easier for small businesses to obtain financing.
Overall, the SBA 7(a) loan program is a valuable resource for small businesses looking to access affordable financing. However, it’s important to carefully evaluate the costs and terms of the loan before applying, as well as ensuring that the business can meet the repayment obligations.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides funding opportunities for projects that support economic development at regional and national levels. The EDA offers rolling-basis investments for various types of projects, including construction, non-construction, planning, technical assistance, research and evaluation, and higher education.
However, receiving funding from the government requires a lot of paperwork and the grant application process can be time-consuming and technical. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria before applying. Additionally, there are ongoing reporting and auditing requirements that must be met.
Government contract assistance
The US federal government spends a significant amount of money on goods and services each year, and a portion of it is awarded through a competitive bidding process. However, certain programs are available to help small businesses compete for federal contracts. These programs include:
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program: This program offers assistance to small businesses owned and operated by service-disabled veterans. Eligible businesses must be over 50% owned/controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans, and have day-to-day operations and long-term goals managed by at least one service-disabled veteran with a service-connected disability. The federal government seeks to award at least 3% of all federal contracting dollars to such businesses annually.
- Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program: This SBA program provides support to women entrepreneurs by offering business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital. The federal government seeks to award at least 5% of federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses annually. The goal is to provide equal opportunities for all women in business.
- 8(a) Business Development Program: This program aims to assist small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged entities. It limits competition for certain government contracts to businesses participating in the 8(a) business development program. To participate, a business must be certified as an 8(a) entity.
- HUBZone Program: This program helps businesses in underutilized business zones to be more competitive in certain government contracts. Businesses that join the HUBZone program can compete for set-aside contracts as well as receive preference on others, including a 10% price evaluation preference in open contract competitions.
Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program
The federal government offers a Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program that sets aside a percentage of goods for bidding by small businesses only. The program includes five categories such as timber and related forest products, strategic materials, royalty oil, leases involving rights to minerals, coal, oil, and gas, as well as surplus real and personal property. Additionally, the program provides training for small businesses on government sales and leasing.
There are several nonprofit and corporate entities offering grants and other assistance to small businesses. Some of the general small business grants available to qualifying small businesses in any industry are:
- 2023 Small Business Growth Fund, which is a partnership between Hello Alice, Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), Etsy, and Progressive. This fund provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to support small businesses.
- 500 Global Flagship Accelerator Program, which offers a four-month accelerator program based in San Francisco, along with a $150,000 investment for startups and small businesses seeking funding.
- The Barstool Fund, which provides grants to small businesses affected by COVID-19 who have kept on many employees during the pandemic and have a proven track record of success.
- Business Warrior Small Business Loans, which provides loans ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to small business owners.
- Fresh Start Business Grant, which provides $2,500 in addition to Incfile’s free gold plan for new business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs looking for capital to grow or launch their business.
- GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund, which matches $500 grants to qualifying small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and raise at least $500 through a GoFundMe campaign.
- Small Business Digital Ready Program, which provides free online curriculum, expert coaching, peer networking, and other resources to support small businesses. Those who register for the program and take two courses are eligible for a $10,000 grant.
- Small Business Readiness for Resiliency Program, which provides plans and emergency funding to help small businesses prepare for and recover from natural disasters. There will be more than 100 grants of $5,000 each available to be distributed between May 2022 and June 2023.
Industry-specific and diverse small business grants and programs
Small business grants and programs can help support entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds or industries. Here are some examples of industry-specific and diversity grants and programs:
- Halstead Grant: Offers a $7,500 grant and $1,000 merchandise to new jewelry designers who work primarily in silver. The application period closes on May 1.
- Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator Program: Provides financial support, mentorship, business advice, and promotional support for Black entrepreneurs who sell in Amazon’s store.
- Amber Grant Foundation: Awards a $10,000 grant each month and an additional $25,000 grant each December to women entrepreneurs with a compelling story.
- AWS Generative AI Accelerator: Hosts an accelerator program for Generative AI startups that are generally around the seed stage of funding. The deadline for applications is in mid-April.
- Be Nimble Idea-Stage Accelerator: Invites Black and Brown founders with tech ideas that need development to apply. Those accepted into the program will learn how to set up a business, create a value proposition, set up pricing and revenue models, and more. The application deadline is April 30.
- Black Founder Startup Grant: Provides grants of up to $10,000 to Black and multiracial women and nonbinary entrepreneurs who have a legally registered business and plan to seek investor financing to scale.
- Capital One Business Grant: Awards $10,000 grants to black-owned businesses to supplement any business that was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Casper Accelerate Grant Program: Offers a $25 million grant program to support innovation within the blockchain industry. The application deadline is rolling.
- EnrichHER Grant: Helps eligible entrepreneurs — especially women and people of color — and businesses get $5,000 to help with smaller expenses. The application round is rolling.
- Etsy Emergency Relief Fund: Provides up to $2,500 in funding through the grant program to registered Etsy businesses affected by a natural disaster. The grant opportunity is rolling.
- Finimpact Women’s Empowerment Grant: Created to close the gap for women entrepreneurs. To apply, at least one of the business’s founders must be a woman. The grand prize of $10,000 will be split between three winners.
- Foundation for a Just Society Grants: Offers grants to local, national, regional, and global organizations and networks that support the rights of women, girls, and LGBTQI individuals.
- Go. Be. Elevate Fund: Grants up to $4,000 toward any project meant to help grow small businesses led by women and people of color.
It’s important to note that this is just a sample list, so entrepreneurs should also check with non-profits and large corporations in their geographic area or industry for additional opportunities.
Here are some additional resources that can help you find grants and funding options for your business:
- Funding options for minority-owned businesses: This resource provides information on multiple grants, funding sources, and low-cost loans that are intended to help minority-owned businesses grow.
- Funding options for women-owned businesses: This resource lists ten programs, agencies, and organizations that are helping women entrepreneurs be better represented in the ranks of American business owners.
- SBA Small Business Development Centers: These centers can help companies of all kinds locate additional funding opportunities at the national and local levels.
- SCORE: This organization can assign a volunteer business mentor who can provide guidance on numerous topics, including funding and operations.
- Tory Burch Foundation Funding Finder: This tool provides personalized funding recommendations and resources based on your responses to a few questions about your business financials and aspirations.