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Research shows that less than 5% of venture capital funding went to startups solely owned by women as recently as 2018. — Getty Images/Ridofranz

With more than 12 million American companies owned or co-owned by women, the impact of women-owned businesses is crucial to economies all over the country. However, women-owned businesses have historically lacked access to funding. Research shows that less than 5% of venture capital funding went to startups solely owned by women as recently as 2018. Additionally, just 11% of partners at U.S.-based venture capital firms are women, showing the barriers female founders have when pitching unique ideas and securing capital.

Here are 10 organizations, government agencies and resources that can help women-owned businesses obtain funding.

37 Angels

The investment firm 37 Angels was founded on the belief that the gender gap in startup investing needs to be closed. The organization invests in early-stage startups from both women and men but has a transparent and open process that makes it easy to entrepreneurs from any background to apply for funding. Startups who make it into the pitching process receive a decision on investment four weeks after the pitch.

Amber Grant Foundation

The Amber Grant Foundation was founded by WomensNet in 1998 in honor of Amber Wigdahl, a woman entrepreneur who died at 19 years old. The Amber Grant Foundation carries on the youthful spirit of Wigdahl by offering women entrepreneurs grants to help their businesses take off. Each month, the Foundation gives away $4,000 in grant funds and it also gives away one year-end grant of $25,000.

Cartier Women’s Initiative

The Cartier Women's Initiative is an international entrepreneurship program that provides multiple awards each year to “women-run and women-owned businesses from any country and sector that aim to have a strong and sustainable social and/or environmental impact.” Grant awards range from $30,000 to $100,000. The organization also recently launched a “Science & Technology Pioneer Award,” which hopes to help women entrepreneurs working on innovative scientific and technological projects.

Female Founders Fund

If the name wasn’t clear enough, the VC firm Female Founders Fund aims to invest in up-and-coming women-owned and women-run startups. Since 2014, Female Founders Fund has put money toward “category-defining female leaders with a strong community to fuel their success,” with investments in B2B, consumer, healthcare, fintech and social companies.

For years, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been one of the best places for women-owned businesses to look to for assistance with funding.

Grants.gov

The website Grants.gov offers the most comprehensive look at federal grant options for businesses. Not all grants specifically target women-owned businesses; but given the thousands of grants to apply to, there are many opportunities here for companies from all backgrounds. Grants.gov lists federal grants from agencies including the Department of the Interior, Health and Human Services, National Science Foundation and more.

GrantsForWomen.org

The website GrantsForWomen.org is a simple but incredibly useful website for women business owners who are looking for grants. What makes the site more useful than many is that it lists grant opportunities at the local and national level, making it easier to find lesser-known organizations that are offering funding. The site also does a good job of outlining recent and timely opportunities, so it’s worth checking frequently.

Kapor Capital

Oakland-based venture capital firm Kapor Capital has a mission to empower founders who come from all backgrounds, including many women entrepreneurs. The firm says 38% of its “first-time investments have a founder who identifies as a woman” and works to fund startups working to solve big problems in education, finance, health, work and justice.

SoGal Ventures

Women-led venture capital firm SoGal Ventures invests in “early-stage diverse founding teams” in the U.S., Asia, Africa and Europe, including many women-owned startups. To date, the firm has invested in more than 70 companies. SoGal Ventures works side by side with the organization SoGal, which provides “advisory, coaching, mentorship services, startup resources, and events” to diverse startups who are looking for help and networking.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

For years, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been one of the best places for women-owned businesses to look to for assistance with funding. On top of providing general resources and guidance through its Women’s Business Centers, the SBA can connect women-owned businesses with financing opportunities through its Lender Match tool. The SBA also can help with obtaining federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses through the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.

Tory Burch Foundation

The Tory Burch Foundation, which was founded in 2009 in support of empowering women entrepreneurs, provides funding through its fellows program targeted at women-owned businesses. Fellows receive a five-day workshop series at the Tory Burch offices, a $5,000 grant for business education and more. Additionally, some fellows are invited to pitch at a Pitch Day event.

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Published September 11, 2020