According to a study, investors are more likely to invest in a female-CEO-led company than male-led. But this wasn’t reflected in 2022: Venture-backed women-founded startups received only 2.1% of the capital invested in the US. With access to funding being a pressing problem, let’s look at the 37 grants for women in tech startups.
Venture Capital Funding Falls Short
And there’s more: Male investors tend to fund male CEOs who are similar to them, while women still get asked different questions than male founders. Investors often ask men how they’ll acquire customers but ask women how they’d retain them. There’s also a networking gap, where women are less likely to have access to a network of investors who can help them raise money and close deals.
Although gender diversity has improved in Silicon Valley, progress remains slow, and there’s still a lack of women in executive positions. The good news, though, is that there are more women-led funds and incubators for female founders appearing.
Grants Empower Female Founders
Another route is financial support through grants, which can promote gender diversity, raise the visibility of female-led businesses, and provide much-needed financial assistance to attract customers, investors, and partners, and get a business off the ground.
There are a number of grant opportunities, from program development support restricted to specific projects to general operating support to research grants, so watch out for that while applying.
37 Grants for Female Founders
To make it easy, we’ve split 37 grants into categories: non-profit foundations, private small-business grants, grants for marginalized communities, microgrants, government grants, pitch days, incubators and accelerators, and others. Let’s get started.
Non-Profit Foundations Support Women
1. Women Who Code
This non-profit is trying to tackle the unequal representation of women in tech positions like venture capitalists, board members, and software engineers. Women Who Code created a supportive 180,000-person community, where members have access to technical, professional, and financial benefits via coding resources, global events, communal job boards, and various technology scholarships available on their site.
2. NASE Scholarships and Small Business Grants
This non-profit organization awards up to $4,000 to four small businesses via its growth grants every quarter. These funds can be used by self-employed individuals and micro-businesses for a variety of business needs, including marketing, advertising, and hiring employees.
3. Women Who Tech
This network was founded in 2008 with a mission to increase diversity and funding to women-led startups in the tech industry. Women Who Tech connects a diverse network of women founders with top investors and allies while providing capital, mentoring and other resources for women who are creating innovative tech companies. The non-profit also showcases women-led ventures through Women Startup Challenges, and last year ran the Women Who Tech’s Startup Grants Program. Five finalists pitched to a panel of investors, and $20,000 in equity-free grants was awarded.
4. Amber Grant for Women Entrepreneurs
WomensNet has an array of grants for startups, non-profits, and specific business categories, with some being awarded monthly and others quarterly. For example, the Amber Grant awards $10,000 to a women-owned business every month. There are also two year-end grants of $25,000; one goes to one of the previous Amber Grant winners and the other goes to a $10,000 monthly Business Category Grant winner. To apply, you need to describe what you’d do with the grant money, be operating in the US or Canada, pay a $15 application fee, and the foundation’s advisory board chooses the winners. Take note: There’s no time in business requirement for the application process.
5. Ladies Who Launch
The Launch Program, run by Ladies Who Launch, is open to women and non-binary small business owners. Recipients receive $10,000 in grant money, six months of business education, mentorship from industry experts, and access to a community of small business owners. The 2023 Launch Program was open to women- and non-binary-owned consumer packaged goods businesses—for example, selling food and beverages, apparel, and more—with an annual gross revenue between $100,000 and $499,000.
6. The Galaxy Grant
This grant program was launched by the non-profit Hidden Star. Each winning business receives a $3,750 grant, and the focus is to ensure the success of minority- or women-owned businesses. If you refer a friend, your chances of winning are also doubled since if your friend wins, you do too.
Private Small-Business Grants Show Venture Capital Firms the Way
FedEx, a multinational with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce, and business services, awards up to $30,000 to ten small businesses annually through its Small Business Grant Contest. If a veteran-owned business wins, they could also get an added $20,000 from USAA Small Business Insurance. Create a FedEx account and make sure you follow the eligibility criteria.
Also, the FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab is a five-month program developed by Accion Opportunity Fund and FedEx to help small business owners looking to develop or expand their e-commerce operations, with a focus on people of color and women entrepreneurs. The program offers courses, workshops, networking opportunities, and a $5,000 business grant.
8. Comcast RISE
The largest American multinational telecommunications and media conglomerate, Comcast, awards $5,000 grants to business owners several times throughout the year. Each Comcast RISE Investment Fund application cycle focuses on specific target cities, and the grant packages for entrepreneurs include business consultation, educational resources, the grant, creative production, and a technology makeover. Comcast has supported 13,000 businesses nationwide.
9. Incfile Fresh Start Business Grant
This LLC services company awards entrepreneurs $2,500 for continuing education fees or business startup costs. To be eligible you must be a US resident who is at least 21 years of age. You’ll also receive one year of a Registered Agent service and annual reporting for your business for the first year.
10. America’s Top Small Business Award
This annual grant from the US Chamber of Commerce is open to all small business owners driving economic growth. To apply, businesses must have been in operation for at least one year and have fewer than 250 employees. One grand prize winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize.
11. Cartier Women’s Initiative
This yearly entrepreneurship program is run by jewelry company Cartier, and the initiative awards regional and thematic grants to 21 women entrepreneurs—with early-stage companies—from around the world. To be eligible for entry, your business must be an original idea, a concept for profit, revenue generating for at least one year, have raised $2 million in funding, meet the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals and be led by a woman aged 18 or over. The Science and Technology Pioneer Award is dedicated to recognizing “women impact entrepreneurs at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation.”
12. She’s Connected by AT&T
This American multinational telecommunications holding company offers grant money to US-based women-owned businesses that have fewer than 50 employees. The winner will receive a $20,000 grant and a year of free AT&T services alongside a new device. AT&T recognizes that commercial investment opportunities and media coverage of women’s sport remains low. Therefore, She’s Connected focuses on spotlighting the multi-dimensional nature of women athletes, supporting their side-hustles, careers outside of sport or philanthropic endeavors.
Grants Giving Professional Opportunities for Marginalized Communities
13. The Ford Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Program
This American private foundation (which also has a grants database) awards roughly 1,500 grants to organizations worldwide in different industries that serve the public good. In 2021, the median grant was $250K, and 60% of US grants went to organizations led by people of color. Last year, Borealis Philanthropy and the Ford Foundation announced the launch of a $1 million Disability x Tech Fund to support disability-led groups bringing about transformational change in technology.
14. Ms. Foundation Grants
Ms. Foundation was founded by Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, Letty Cottin-Pogrebin, and Marlo Thomas in 1973. In 2022, Ms. Foundation announced more than $5.2M in funding, supporting more than 150 grantee partners nationwide and helping advance projects that strengthen reproductive justice, improve economic security, reduce racially-based health disparities, and support equity and justice.
15. SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
This program aims to support Black women entrepreneurs (who receive less than 0.5% of venture capital funding). Winners of the SoGal Startup Grant get a cash award of either $5,000 or $10,000 to scale their businesses. They also receive professional guidance to help navigate the fundraising process. To apply, you need to identify as a Black woman or non-binary entrepreneur, own a legally registered business and demonstrate a plan to seek investor capital.
16. The Fearless Fund, in Collaboration With Mastercard
The Fearless Fund manages a grant program on a national scale alongside city-specific grant contests. To qualify for this small-business grant, you need to operate a business in the US, employ 50 or fewer individuals and have generated $3 million or less in the past year. This year, the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest was launched, where four small businesses owned by Black women could receive a $20,000 grant. The winners will also receive digital tools to help sustain their businesses online and one-on-one mentorship with a Mastercard small-business mentor.
17. Publish Her Business Impact Grant (BIG)
Businesses 100% owned by women of color are eligible to apply for this program, which awards $5,000 grants. To qualify, you need to be a legal resident of the US, and your business should have been running for a minimum of one year, with a revenue of at least $50,000. Since 2018, more than $250,000 in grants and services have been awarded to women-owned businesses.
18. Women of Color Grant Program
Annually, this program—organized by the Tory Burch Foundation and the Fearless Foundation—awards $10,000 or $20,000 to 75 businesses owned by women of color. Grantees will also have access to a self-paced learning portal. To apply, businesses must have been in business for one to five years, be operating in the United States and have a minimum annual revenue of $100,000.
Microgrants Meeting a Financial Need
19. The Atomic Grant Program
This program offers $1,500 microgrants to business owners all over the world who identify as women. Grants are awarded quarterly, with applications accepted on a rolling basis. The Passion Collective team creates a shortlist and the Passion Collective community votes for a winner. Recipients also receive one-on-one strategy coaching sessions with Keystone Group International.
20. Kitty Fund Mother-Led Business Grant
Launched in 2020, this grant program offers microgrants to mothers running small businesses with two or more employees. Your business must be US-based and have a $5 million or less revenue. For 2023, this $25,000 fund will give grants of $1,000 to 25 mother-led business owners.
21. The Freed Fellowship
Each month, an underrepresented small business owner can receive a $500 microgrant from the Freed Fellowship. Each applicant gets a strategy session with a business expert, recommendations to grow their business based on a review, and access to the Freed Studio, a safe space bringing together ambitious business owners. Monthly grant recipients will also be considered for an additional $2,500 grant at the end of each year.
22. HerRise MicroGrant for Small Business
This grant is offered by the Yva Jourdan Foundation, in partnership with HerSuiteSpot non-profit. Through this organization, donors and sponsors contribute money to women of color entrepreneurs looking for capital, coaching, and community. Every month, a $1,000 microgrant is awarded to one female business owner of color. The funds can be used to buy business equipment, marketing, website creation, and more.
Federal, State, and Local Government Grants
Sign up for a Grants.gov Workspace account so you and your team can edit and complete individual grant applications available through the database. Every funding opportunity listed in the Grants.gov database contains detailed information regarding eligibility criteria.
24. SBA’s Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME)
The US Small Business Administration Office (SBA) provides federal grants to microenterprise development organizations through the PRIME program. The idea is to provide grant funding to organizations providing technical assistance and training to disadvantaged microentrepreneurs. A grant of up to $3,000 can support capacity-building activities.
25. Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO)
The US Department of Labor announced a $5M funding opportunity to attract and retain women in registered apprenticeships in construction, manufacturing, and cybersecurity. The WANTO grants are administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration and Women’s Bureau. The purpose of this program is to provide technical support to employers (including public-sector entities) and labor unions.
26. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
Minority-owned companies seeking to explore new markets and grow in size and scale, can access business experts at MBDA Business Centers. The centers are located in areas with large concentrations of minority populations, and can help with securing capital, competing for a contract, or identifying strategic partners. There’s also the MBDA Capital Readiness Program, a $125 million technical guidance program to help underserved entrepreneurs scale their businesses.
27. The US Agency for International Development (USAID)
The majority of USAID’s funds are awarded through a competitive process, but funding opportunities are posted daily on Grants.gov and SAM.gov. For example, the Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is USAID’s open innovation program that funds solutions to the world’s toughest development challenges. DIV has funded 277 innovation grants in 49 countries since 2010.
Pitch Days Helping Early-Stage Startups
28. Allbright Collective Pitch Days
AllBright, a leading global network, organizes pitch days to empower ambitious female founders worldwide to access the funding and expertise they need to scale their businesses. The network combines a digital toolkit of resources, with physical locations and a global community, so female-run businesses have the tools they need.
29. Enthuse Foundation’s Annual Pitch Competition
This Pitch Competition welcomes women entrepreneurs who wish to pitch their businesses at an in-person event. The winner receives a $10,000 grant and a runner-up takes home $5,000. One winner owned a high-tech feminine hygiene company. The next pitch competition will take place at Helen Mills Theater, New York.
30. Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition
Each year, this network hosts its Fast Pitch Competition for women entrepreneurs. The top ten selected finalists will receive personalized coaching, mentorship, and feedback. And there are cash prizes too: $25,000 is awarded to two first-place winners from two categories (technology companies and non-tech).
Incubators and Accelerators Having a Positive Impact
Not all accelerators or incubators offer grants, they usually opt for equity investments. But there are some excellent opportunities at TechStars and The Women’s Startup Lab in terms of hands-on support and connections to networks of mentors and investors. However, there are a few hidden gems:
31. Y Combinator
Watch out for Y Combinator’s equity-free grants. In 2020, they announced their first-ever YC Build Sprint, a four-week program to work towards a defined goal alongside a community of founders on the Startup School platform. They also rewarded 20 grants of $10,000 to winners selected from the sprint participants.
32. The AWS Impact Accelerator
This accelerator is a eight-week program that provides 25 startups—run by Black, Latino, LGBTQIA+, and female founders—with equitable access to training, mentorship, and resources. Founders participate in workshops, roundtable discussions, peer learning, and chats from executive leaders to develop their ventures alongside AWS technology experts, investors, and partners. Startups also receive a $125,000 cash grant and $100,000 in AWS service credits.
Other Grants for Closing the Funding Gap
This go-to funding marketplace offers a range of funding options for women-owned small businesses around the world. One of the organization’s most convenient tools is the IFundWomen Universal Grant Application; when the marketplace partners with a brand, they match the partner’s grant criteria to qualified applicants in the database. Those qualified applicants who are a match for a sponsored grant will be notified. Members of IFundWomen have access to various grants from corporate partners like Visa and American Express.
34. High Five Grant for Moms
The Mama Ladder helps secure funding for women business owners who are caregivers, including stepmoms, first-time expecting moms, and foster moms. Eight small businesses will be selected, and the public will vote on the top three winners. These chosen early-stage companies will receive grants of $10,000, $5,000, or $2,500—and honorable mentions receive $1,000.
35. The Beyond Open Small Business Grant
This specific program, which is a non-profit and corporate collaboration, provides capital to businesses owned by a woman, minority, veteran, LGBTQ+ individual, or persons with a disability. The program is administered by FFTC Partners for Empowering Communities (FPEC), with support from the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund. The goal is to award $15 million in grants, $5 million per round. At Round Two, winners should receive between $10,000 to $150,000 per grant. The funds can be used for inventory, real estate, equipment, and technology expenses, but they cannot cover the operational costs of the business.
36. Global Fund for Women
Register your organization by submitting an Organizational Profile on the Global Fund for Women site. With some exceptions, the fund doesn’t generally fund US-based organizations. Your company’s primary focus should be advancing gender justice, and you cannot be a government entity, political party, or international organization proposing projects with local partners.
37. TGIV’s Gender Equity in Tech Fund (T-GET)
Tiger Global Impact Ventures (TGIV) is a philanthropic foundation that emerged from Tiger Global, a tech investment firm focused on investing in internet-enabled businesses. TGIV endeavors to fund innovative companies solving some of the world’s most urgent problems. T-GET is a $50 million commitment to support organizations bringing about change in the tech industry by increasing access, inclusion, and representation for women, girls and non-male individuals.
Female founders don’t have too much trouble getting insurance for their businesses. However, getting to the point of launching a business and sourcing funding (when you’ll need insurance) is generally more complex. Once you’ve applied to one of these grants or received funding (or even before), you’ll need to consider insurance — and we’re here to help.
Start your free application here (it only takes a few minutes!) — our insurance experts will review your risks or current policies and recommend a custom-fit insurance program for your startup. We’ve been where you are, and we know what you need to succeed!