You need money to grow your business but can’t get a loan from the bank. Sound familiar?
Maybe you have less than perfect credit. Or perhaps you haven’t been in business long enough. Either way, one thing’s for certain: not having access to capital can hinder you from growing your company and increasing profit margins. Fortunately, grants for small-business owners can help you fill the funding gap until you can qualify for a business loan.
If you are a minority business owner in particular, there are several grants you can consider.
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
This program caters to small businesses and provides funding for research and development. Eleven agencies participate in the program, and the collective budget is more than $3.2 million for 2017. Awards range from $100,000 to $750,000, depending on which phase of the program you’re in. To qualify, you must be a for-profit business with 500 or fewer employees and affiliates. Your company must also be more than 50% U.S. owned.
Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR)
Similar to the SBIR, the STTR program offers research and development funding to small businesses and nonprofit research institutions. Currently, five federal agencies are a part of this program, and awards range from $100,000 to $750,000, depending on which phase of the program you’re in. To qualify, you must be registered in the SBA’s Company Registry Database.
The USDA Rural Enterprise Grant Program
If you own a small business and are in a rural area, you may qualify for a rural business development grant from the USDA. Awards range from $10,000 to $500,000 and are geared toward training, technical assistance and other activities related to development. To qualify, you must have 50 or fewer employees and annual gross revenues under $1 million.
The Miller Lite Tap the Future Business Plan Competition
This award is offered on an annual basis and is worth up to $200,000. To apply, small-business owners must submit a business plan. The top 25 finalists then advance to one of five live pitch events, and the winner from each location takes home $20,000 in prize money. The winner also advances to the national finals and competes for a chance to win $100,000 and a host of other valuable resources.
The FedEx Small Business Grant
Each year, FedEx rewards 10 deserving small-business owners up to $25,000 in grant funding and $7,500 in FedEx office print and business services. To qualify, you must have operated a business for at least six months and have fewer than 100 employees.
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants Program
NASE offers grants of up to $4,000 to help micro-business owners expand their business. You must be a NASE member to qualify for consideration. One applicant is selected per month. To date, $650,000 in grants have been awarded.
Other funding information sources
Operation HOPE Small Business Empowerment Program
This program caters to aspiring business owners from underserved communities. Participants aren’t awarded grant funds but can be referred to local resources.
SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
By participating in the program, you won’t gain access to federal grants funds. However, you will receive a helping hand when competing in the marketplace. The 8(a) business development program participants qualify to receive contracts up to $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. Firms owned and controlled by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals qualify for consideration in the program.
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
Housed under the United States Department of Commerce, the MBDA does not have grant programs available for business owners. However, you can visit a center near you to learn more about state and local grant opportunities.
Have you contacted your state’s department of revenue to inquire about grants for small-business owners? You also can conduct an online search to identify opportunities in your respective county or city of residence.
Contrary to popular belief, the SBA does not offer startup and expansion grants. However, you can search for federal funding via Grants.gov. You can search by category and agency, and there’s a special option for Native American tribal organizations if your organization fits this classification.
Even if you’ve been turned down, there are several small-business lenders that may be able to help. To explore other reputable lenders, use SuperMoney’s business loan companies review and comparison tool. You can customize your search by loan amount, eligibility criteria, loan type, funding time and fees. This tool also allows you to read reviews from existing customers to help you make the right decision.
Allison Martin is an accomplished finance writer who has written for publications including The Wall Street Journal, MoneyTalksNews, The Simple Dollar, and Credit.com. Her work has been featured on Fox Business, Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, and ABC News. She enjoys writing about personal development, entrepreneurship, personal finance and is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI).