Minority business owners face challenges when starting or expanding a small business, including access to affordable small-business loans. Business grants and financial assistance can help bridge the funding gap. Here are some of the best small-business grants and other useful financing resources for minority-owned businesses. NerdWallet also has compiled a list of the best small-business loans for minorities.
Grants.gov allows grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. It contains information on more than 1,000 grant programs across federal grant-making agencies, including the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration. To apply for federal grants, you must obtain a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet (a unique nine-digit identification number) for your business; register to do business with the U.S. government through its System Award Management website; and create an account at Grants.gov.
2. The USDA Rural Business Development Grant Program
This is a USDA grant for the development or expansion of small businesses in rural areas — minority-owned or not. To qualify, you’ll need to have 50 or fewer new employees, less than $1 million in gross revenue and be located in an eligible rural area. Grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including training and technical assistance, acquisition or development of land and long-term business planning. Applications are accepted through the USDA’s Rural Development’s state offices once per year.
3. National Association for the Self-Employed
This nonprofit trade association provides educational resources and grants for small businesses and entrepreneurs. To apply for a grant of up to $4,000, you’ll need to become an active member of the association, provide a detailed explanation of how you’ll use the funds, show how the grant will support your business growth, and provide supporting documentation.
4. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
The FedEx Small Business annual grant contest awards 12 small businesses with grants of up to $50,000. Any for-profit small business that has been operating for at least six months and has fewer than 99 employees is eligible to enter.
5. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs
These two small business programs provide contracts and grants for early-stage small businesses that are looking to commercialize innovative research and development.
6. Minority Business Development Agency
This development agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce promotes the growth of minority-run small businesses by connecting owners to financing resources, federal contracts and market opportunities. You can contact a local MBDA business center for more information.
7. National Minority Supplier Development Council
8. SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
Socially or economically disadvantaged small-business owners are eligible to receive help through this SBA 8(a) program, which provides business development assistance, training, and management and technical guidance. To qualify, a small business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by a citizen who has been subjected to cultural bias or prejudice and placed at an economic disadvantage because of race or ethnicity. Here is a list of eligibility requirements.
9. Operation Hope Small-Business Empowerment Program
The Operation Hope program is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs in low-wealth neighborhoods, which often include minority communities. The program combines business training and financial counseling along with access to small-business financing options. Participants complete a 12-week training program, plus workshops on business financing and credit and money management.
10. Fast Break for Small Business
This $6 million grant program is a partnership among LegalZoom, the NBA, WBNA, and NBA G League. Businesses can receive grant money and LegalZoom services. Accion Opportunity Fund is the nonprofit administrator of the program.