Minority small business grants can be the difference between success and failure for many minority small business owners. In fact, as of 2020, 29 percent of all companies in the United States are run by minority business owners, but only 11 percent of them can afford to hire employees, according to the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). However, 13 million new jobs could be created if “MBEs were to obtain entrepreneurial parity,” suggests the MBDA.
In most cases, a certified minority enterprise refers to a company that is at least 51 percent owned by someone of a racial minority group. But sometimes the definition broadens to include women, veterans, differently-abled, LGBTQ individuals, and those in rural or low socioeconomic areas.
If you’re an entrepreneur who falls into one or more of these categories, there are a number of small business grants you can apply for and, in turn, gain access to greater funds and grow your business. Here are 10 grants that may be able to help you finance the business of your dreams.
Operation Hope Small Business Empowerment Program
This is one of the few minority small business grants that provide support to entrepreneurs in low-income communities who are unable to secure traditional business loans due to poor credit or limited capital. In addition to financial opportunities, the program also offers a 12-week intensive training course to hone professional development and build a robust foundation to launch, sustain, and grow the business. To date, 75,000 recipients have been empowered by this grant.
Asian Women Giving Circle Business Grants
This grant is specifically for Asian American female-owned companies and independent contractors in New York City. For each annual grant cycle, as many as 11 entrepreneurs are chosen, with priority given to business owners who raise awareness of Asian culture and advocate for social justice in marginalized populations. From documentary filmmakers to multimedia artists, the recipients of this grant are diverse in their work while bringing awareness to the Asian culture in America.
Community Programs to Improve Minority Health Grant
This is one of the most unique minority small business grants. Offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it helps fund organizations that combat disparities faced by minorities in medical care. Agencies in both the public and private sectors are eligible, and the money can be used to further equitable research studies, promote education initiatives, reform healthcare access, and introduce disease prevention measures within high-risk communities.
National Minority Supplier Development Council
This grant is available to certified minority business enterprises, so you must be at least 25 percent Black, Latinx, Asian or Native American in order to qualify. Beneath the umbrella of the NMSDC is the Business Consortium Fund, a nonprofit lending service that makes loans accessible to minority entrepreneurs. In addition, this program matches recipients with affiliated corporations who will invest in or purchase from the business.
Tribal Energy Development Capacity Grant Program
This grant helps to incentivize members of Alaskan and Native American tribes to stimulate the energy resources and economic impact of tribal lands. Recipients gain assistance in creating their business infrastructure, as well as securing ordinances and affordable lease options. The projects this grant will finance can range from commercial and technical to managerial—as long as the b business maximizes tribal land development.
Minority Business Development Agency
This grant is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Commerce to bolster the expansion and influence of minority-owned organizations nationwide. Entrepreneurs who qualify receive more than just financial support; the agency’s partnership with Amazon also provides business coaching and resources to increase online presence through Amazon eCommerce solutions. Contact your local MBDA branch for details on how to apply.
Bank of Hawaii McInerny Foundation Grant
This is one of the only minority small business grants that is exclusively available to Native Hawaiians who still reside on the islands. Once a year, it awards funding to a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charity that operates in the state of Hawaii. In order to be eligible, a nonprofit must focus on projects that enhance the lives of Hawaiians.
USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program
This grant is for business owners in rural areas—defined as less than 50,000 residents—who are working to benefit the community. Recipients can include civic organizations, town or state agencies, educational institutions, public servants or authorities, and federally-recognized tribes. The purpose of this grant is to boost job creations, technical assistance, economic advancement, and living standards in rural America.
First Nations Development Institute Grants
This grant has allocated more than $36.7 million to Native American enterprises in 40 U.S. states, as well as American Samoa and Washington D.C. Run by First Nations, a nonprofit, this program can fund numerous ventures, from tribal language immersion and arts and culture preservation to indigenous youth enrichment, and ancestral land advocacy, along with higher education scholarships. There have been 1,703 grants distributed, and counting.
SBA 8(a) Business Development Assistance Program
This grant is open to socially or economically disenfranchised business owners whose adjusted gross income over a 3-year period totals $250,000 or less. Those who qualify are also paired with a mentor through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s network of established companies to coach them in marketing, technical operations, management, and executive development. An 8(a) small business certification is required.
Minority Small Business Grants Are Widely Available
If you know where to look, minority small business grants are widely available and supportive for many types of businesses. Any of these grants could be just the launchpad you need to turn entrepreneurial ambition into a reality. With some of the financial pressures alleviated, you can focus on how to build, manage, and scale your business for the long-term.