For female entrepreneurs who are developing startups, access to funding remains a problematic barrier to them. That implies that more and more women are searching for cost-effective ways to help fund these companies.
In this article, I will explain what a business grant is, how it helps women entrepreneurs and what small business grants are available for women in the UK.
What is a small business grant?
A grant is a money from the government, a corporation or a sponsor that is given to your business. While a lender needs you to show your willingness to repay the loan, an institution that issues grants wants to ensure that your business aligns with its mission purpose or initiative. They aim to provide a helping hand to small businesses.
How can grants help women entrepreneurs?
Women face challenges in accessing affordable small-business loans, and as a result, they often have to search for new sources of funding. The discrepancy in women-owned business loans places them at a disadvantage and can affect their ability to succeed in the marketplace.
Despite these differences, women-owned and minority-owned companies secure funds with grants. Women entrepreneurs are now launching businesses at a faster rate than before. Women can now secure a loan on lower amounts than male borrowers. Grants decrease gender inequality and help build the economy for women.
What are the things you need to be aware of before applying for grants?
Is the grant eligible for your agency and project?
If both the agency and your project are eligible is the number one priority to determine whether a grant is a suitable match for your organisation. First, is funding available in your area? Is there enough supply of the desired target population in your area to ensure appropriate project involvement? Is there a need for your area to be below a certain degree of poverty or crime rate, for instance?
Importantly, you must make sure that your proposal follows the goals of the funder and that you can accurately explain how your project can help the funder accomplish its objectives. Most grants are given to specific causes. Instead of having a general aid, a unique project is much more likely to get funding.
Is grant financing limited?
Determine the availability of funding available from this source and whether the budget required for your project falls between the known minimum and limit. Find out if any match is needed, and if so, if the match is available for in-kind donations.
Check carefully to see how the grant will be paid against any expenses you may pay, such as lodging, food, conference fees and administrative costs.
How much work is needed and when is the submission for the grant due?
To see what paperwork is required, check the grant criteria. Determine which attachments are essential and whether those are readily accessible or not. For example, do you have audited financial statements, job requirements, credentials, organisational maps, etc. available if the funder needs it?
Does the site need registration several days in advance if the grant is to be submitted online? Will the funder need the participation of collaborators and the availability of documents, such as Memorandums of Understanding? Finally, would you be able to gather and monitor the data as necessary during and after the project? How much documentation is needed? Before determining if your company has the ability (including time available) to submit, all of these things must be determined.
Also, a personal touch helps. They are more likely to recall and support the proposal if you were to call or otherwise drop an email to a funder before finishing the application.
What are Small Business Grants Available for Women in the UK?
Small-business grants for women entrepreneurs are free financing, as opposed to business credit cards or small-business loans that you must payback. The competition for small-business grants is fierce, and winning them requires tremendous time and commitment. However, the payoff is worth it.
Here are 8 places where women entrepreneurs can look for grants and financial support for their small businesses.
The Global Women's Fund funds organisations led by women and trans people organisations dedicated to progressing equality and human rights in their societies and resolving the most significant issues facing women and girls today.
The fund offers flexible cash grants that can be used to cover startup expenses, such as operating and programme costs, or to cover more basic costs, such as transport and implementation of school programmes.
To apply, businesses must be outside the US and run by a group of women (the fund awards grants to groups, not individuals). Applications can be made during the entire year.
A new trend of funding has recently been declared to raise £50,000 for up to 10 women and to receive tailor-made coaching, mentoring, and creativity development support programme. If your UK business is at least one year old and contributes to a greener environment, creates innovative treatments and programs for healthcare patients, tackles climate change or integrates artificial intelligence and data, the Women in Innovation Awards 2020 could be a source of funding for you.
The number of applications has risen by 70% since the start of the awards, and the competition is fierce. Still, with the opportunity for such a significant cash injection, it is worth taking the time to apply.
Launched by Natwest last 2019, the Back Her Business initiative helps more female entrepreneurs start their own business. The program gives members a forum for crowdfunding to raise the funds they need to start their companies and provides coaching, workshops and mentoring sessions.
To apply, a crowdfunding project with a minimum goal of £1,000 must be set up by UK-based, female-led startups. Natwest will then match the successful funding applicants receive up to a maximum of £5,000. The application is ongoing and can be submitted at any moment.
The Cartier Women's Initiative welcomes women from all over the world every year to apply for one of its 21 grants. To apply, businesses must be on its early-stage, have an innovative idea and can grow significantly over the next few years. A woman should also hold a significant position in the organisation.
Access to workshops, private networking events, one-on-one coaching sessions and the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Program is given to the 21 eligible applicants. 14 of those finalists will each receive £24,000, and the £80,000 will be awarded to the seven winners.
Although the UK government does not directly give business grants to women, it is a significant funder of UK STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) businesses. If your business is under one of those fields, you can receive grants provided by government organisations such as Innovate UK and the Regional Growth Fund. More than 100 grants are listed and available in the UK that you can access based on your region, industry, business stage and number of employees.
Suppose you're a female entrepreneur with an established business or wish to start a business in the technology or computer industries. In that case, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology might be right for you. The Abie Awards and the Pass It On Awards are two awards hosted by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and may provide the essential funding you need.
The Abie Awards recognises female entrepreneurs who work or empower those who are in the tech industry. There are various awards across categories such as technical leadership and technical entrepreneurship.
Winners can receive up to $50,000 (£41,000). Smaller grants of up to $1,000 (£800) are provided through the Pass It On Awards, and will help cover the expenses of initiatives supporting women and girls in computing. Any woman above the age of 18 who is employed or aspiring to work in the computing industry can be nominated. The award you're nominated for the specific entry criteria can vary.
The Female Founders Office Hours event is held at Founders Factory in West London, encouraging you to take advantage of one-to-one sessions where you can receive personalised startup advice.
More than 100 female entrepreneurs from across the UK will be taking part this year. They will have the chance to visit four investors (remotely due to the outbreak of COVID-19) and discuss their technology business idea, ask for advice and pitch for investment.
This early-stage fund aims to invest in startups led by women who have an impact on e-commerce, web-enabled goods and services, platforms and marketplaces that connect buyers and sellers. This may be a feasible option to collect money if small business grants are not eligible, as an equity interest would have to be offered in exchange for the fund.
Applicants can submit their pitches to the Female Founders Fund via email to apply for funding.
This guide helps you in finding the funding you need if you're a female entrepreneur starting or developing a company. While you may not be eligible for any of the grants in this list, there should be something that you can qualify for. Just make sure that you carefully review the eligibility criteria for each grant before you apply.