10 Small Business Grants to Help You Launch the Next Game-Changer

It’s a brand-new year full of opportunities and possibilities—which means there’s no time like the present to take a leap and turn your entrepreneurial ambitions into a reality. Of course, this is quite a commitment and investment, so to help ease your mind in this area, we compiled a roundup of small business grants that can minimize the financial strain or guesswork. 

Our list focuses specific attention on minority entrepreneurs since this demographic accounts for 29 percent of all American business owners. As of 2020, only 11 percent of minority-owned companies had enough cashflow to hire a staff, but with more access to funding, they could stimulate the creation of 13 million new jobs. So if your business venture qualifies as a certified- minority enterprise (e.g. BIPOC, female, veteran, differently abled, LGBTQ, low-socioeconomic), check out these small business grants and make 2021 the year to launch your dreams!      

SBA 8(a) Business Development Assistance Program

This grant is available through the U.S. Small Business Administration to socially or economically disenfranchised entrepreneurs with a three-year adjusted gross income of $250,000 or less. To meet the qualifications, you must obtain an 8(a) small business certification, but once accepted, you also receive mentorship in technical operations, management, executive development and marketing from a business owner in the SBA network. 

Minority Business Development Agency

This grant is available through the U.S. Department of Congress for minority-owned companies across the nation. As well as financial assistance, the MBDA also partners with Amazon to offer ecommerce business coaching and other digital resources that can help boost your online presence. There are several MBDA agencies around the United States, so contact the nearest local or regional branch to submit your application.

Tribal Energy Development Capacity Grant Program

This grant is available through the U.S. Department of the Interior for the members of Alaskan and Native American tribes to develop natural energy resources and bolster the economic impact of tribal lands. The TEDC grant will help you navigate ordinances, secure affordable leases and create a strong business infrastructure. In addition, this program makes technical solutions more accessible to recipients free-of-charge. 

Asian Women Giving Circle Business Grants

This grant is available through the Ms. Foundation for Women, and is offered specifically to female Asian American entrepreneurs in New York City. About eleven applicants are selected during each annual cycle, and those who use artistic media to raise awareness for Asian culture and advocate for social transformation are given preference. AWGC is the first and largest Asian American women led program of its kind in the U.S. 

Operation Hope Small Business Empowerment Program

This grant is available through Operation HOPE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that empowers small business owners in low-income areas who cannot obtain a business loan due to a lack of credit or capital. Not only does Operation HOPE make funding more accessible to disenfranchised communities, the program also offers a 12-week financial counseling and professional training intensive course to launch and scale your business.    

Bank of Hawaii McInerny Foundation Grant

This grant is available through the McInerny Foundation for Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs who still live on the islands, and are working to elevate Hawaiian communities. Once a year, the McInerny Foundation will choose one tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization located in the state to receive financial assistance. Individual entities and churches do not qualify, and there are some restrictions on what the money can be used for.

Community Programs to Improve Minority Health Grant

This grant is available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for agencies that strive to eliminate healthcare disparities among racial or ethnic minorities. Both public and private sector organizations can apply for the grant, and once accepted, you can use the funds for equitable research, educational initiatives, disease prevention measures and other areas of medical reform in certain high-risk populations. 

USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program

This grant is available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture for business owners in rural communities of less than 50,000 residents. Any civic organization, local agency, educational institution, federally-recognized tribal council or public servant is eligible. The USDA offers this assistance with the intention to combat unemployment, advance economic interests and help raise the standard of living for rural Americans.

First Nations Development Institute Grants

This grant is available through the First Nations Development Institute to provide both financial and technical resources for Native American business owners. More than $36 million has been distributed to Indigenous entrepreneurs in 40 states, Washington D.C. and American Samoa. This funding exists to preserve ancestral land, culture, art and language, as well as to enrich Native youth through scholarship opportunities. 

National Minority Supplier Development Council

This grant is available through the NMSDC Business Consortium Fund for certified minority-owned business ventures. In other words, you must be at least 25 percent Black, Indigenous, Asian or Latinx to meet the application criteria. This nonprofit lending service helps racial minority entrepreneurs access business loans and will even match you with potential investors in the NMSDC network of established corporations.    

Have we missed any small business grants that you can think of worth adding to this list? Do you plan to seek assistance from any of these programs to help launch your dream business in 2021? Let us know in the comment section below!

About Author

Mary-Elizabeth Meagher is a freelance writer, social media marketer, travel enthusiast, musical theatre nerd and self-described bohemian. She lives and seeks adventure in the Arizona desert, and she also blogs over at Health Be a Hippie—her personal contribution to making the internet a more authentic, vulnerable and empowering place.

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