Statistically, only 30% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) around the world are run by women. Over the years, women has been experiencing challenges in raising capital to start and grow their businesses. As a result, women are disadvantaged from the start because there are few business funding opportunities for women owned businesses. Asides the fact that there are few business funding opportunities for women owned businesses, there are also few role models and mentors for these women.
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Gratefully, some organisations are now being established to change the narrative and help women entrepreneurs reach for the stars by providing business funding opportunities for these women owned businesses. But, most women are unaware of these business funding opportunities around them.
So, in this article, we have compiled a list of some of the local and international organisations supporting women entrepreneurs with grants and funding. If by any chance, we missed anyone, do well to let us know in the comment section.
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Business Funding Opportunities For Women Owned Businesses
1. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program
Eileen Fisher’s grant program support women in environmental justice. The grant program is designed to address the constant exposure of women and girls to climate changes. Basically, this program aims at improving the health status and rights of women globally.
From 2019, the initiative started awarding $200,000 annually in amount ranging from $5,000 to $30,000. However, applicants must be involved in one of the under listed activities:
- Increasing women’s participation in decision making.
- Training women and girls on how to adapt to climate changes.
- Creating opportunities for women to have a means of livelihood.
Also, the application dates and procedures vary each year, so, ensure you visit www.eileenfisher.com for updates.
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2. Amber Grant
Amber Foundation provides business funding opportunities for women. The good news is, there is no expectation to pay back the funds received.
The idea of Amber grant started when young Amber Wigdahl died at age 19, unable to fulfill her entrepreneurial dreams. So, in 1998, WomensNet launched Amber grants in her honor and memory.
Applicants are eligible to receive $2,000 monthly grant and $25,000 annual grant. Please note that Amber Grant does not accept non-profit applications. Also, applicants are to pay $15 standard application fee before they can be considered.
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3. Cartier Women’s Initiative Award
The initiative started in 2006 by Cartier and INSEAD Business School to support women-owned businesses globally. Basically, Cartier’s Women’s Initiative aims to encourage female entrepreneurs to solve global problems. Over the years, they have empowered 219 female business owners in 50 countries and regions.
During the process, seven laureates (one from each continental region) are awarded $100,000 in prize money. The continental regions are East Asia, South Asia & Oceania, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, North America, Sub-Saharan Africa.
In like manner, 14 finalists will receive $30,000 in prize money. In addition to cash prize, beneficiaries get a scholarship into INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Executive Education Program. Plus, an ongoing support for the further growth of the business.
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4. She Leads Africa Accelerator
A 3month program designed to empower and fund innovative female entrepreneurs in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the winner receives a N2million funding grant at the end of the program.
Procedures for SLA Accelerator
- Prepare and submit a well detailed application.
- Attend one week boot camp in person. There you’ll meet with other participants.
- Attend up to 15 master classes on relevant business skills for the next three months.
- Implement all the lessons gotten from the master class and attend weekly mentorship and group sessions with a trainer.
- Present your business idea to SLA community, judges and the world at large.
- The top 3 owners walk away with cash prizes.
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5. Global Fund For Women
If you are part of a group led by women, girls or trans people and, you are based outside United States, this funding opportunity is for you. Global fund for women provide three types of grants: general support grants, travel and event organizing grants and crisis grants.
To apply, visit www.globalfundforwomen.org and register your organisation by submitting an organizational profile. Afterwards, if your organisation is invited, you will be asked to submit a proposal for your choice of grant.
Importantly, the budget for travel grant is restricted to $1,000 – $5000 while event grant is restricted to $2500 – $15000
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6. Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-fi)
We-fi was launched at the World Bank – IMF annual meetings in October, 2017. Basically, the initiative provides business funding opportunities to women entrepreneurs across developing world. With funding of $354m from 14 governments, We-fi supports women-led or owned business across board.
In April, 2018, We-fi disbursed the first round of funding allocations of $120m to the following accredited partners:
1. Asian Development Bank – to enhance the business environment for women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka
2. Islamic Development Bank – to expand successful women initiatives in Yemen, Mali and Nigeria
3. World Bank Group – to support women in business globally but, with focus on the most fragile environment
Actually, the application for We-fi’s second round of funding closed on Feb. 4, 2019 and the funding decisions will be announced soon.
Unlike other funding opportunities, We-fi’s operation is quite different. They call for proposals from accredited partners periodically and disburse funds to them. The partners in turn come up with programs and projects that support women entrepreneurs globally.
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7. Open Meadows Foundation
Open Meadows Foundation was founded in 2006. They provide grant for non-for-profit making organisations that promote gender/racial/economic justice. Most importantly, the organisation or project must be led by and benefit women and girls.
Also, Open Meadows Foundation gives grant of up to $2,000 to projects that reflect the diversity of the community served by the project. The organisations must show they have limited access to finance and the projects must promote community building. However, the initiative does not fund an organisation with a total income greater than or equal to $75,000.
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8. AWDF Small Grants Program
AWDF is the acronym for African Women’s Development Fund. Currently, the initiative operates in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The objective of the programme is to provide support for small women’s groups, which are most likely not to have access to any financial support. AWDF gives out grant in 3 cycles: March, August and November but, applications can be sent at anytime.
Nevertheless, beneficiaries of SGP must meet the six under listed criteria
- They must have been in existence for a minimum of 3 years
- The group has to be recommended by the leadership of a larger organisation
- They must have basic structure in place
- The group must have a bank account
- They must include a photocopy of their organisation certificate of registration
In addition, the grant is given for specific project or items needed by the group. The grants ranges from $1000 to $5000
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9. International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF)
If you are a woman in journalism or news media, this opportunity is for you. IWMF supports the work of women in the news media all over the world. The foundation was established with a $4m gift from Howard G. Buffet Foundation.
Every year, IWMF funding round is open for application in January and July. And, it takes 6-8 weeks to process the applications.
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