Seeking minority small business grants for your startup? Studies have shown that one in four businesses struggle to grow their companies due to a lack of funding, and minority-owned startups tend to feel this pinch the most. But that doesn’t mean starting a business is impossible. Minority small business grants are available to help entrepreneurs looking for funding.
From the self-employed minority population to the rural areas with slow internet, take a look at the four grants below designed to help minority groups. Then, check out three additional resources minorities can contact to further grow their businesses — and maybe build up the nation in the process.
Minority small business grants
Rural business development grants
Community Connects grants
First Nations Development Institute grant
National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) grant
Now let's look at each of these grants in more detail to learn why they are ideal for minority-owned small businesses.
1. Rural business development grants
Established by the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, this program provides funding to be used on activities that benefit growing small businesses, including training and technology, transportation improvement and land development initiatives. Grants range from $10,000 to $500,000, with smaller requests prioritized first.
Who can benefit: Minorities living in eligible rural towns and communities, nonprofit corporations, higher education institutions and federally recognized tribes.
Eligibility: Businesses must employ 50 or fewer employees, earn less than $1 million in gross revenue, and be located in an eligible area. Each state has different requirements and timelines, so find your local USDA office for specific instructions.
2. Community Connects grants
Another initiative launched by the USDA, the Community Connects program, hones in on providing rural communications with funding for broadband deployment to ensure faster internet speeds for businesses.
Who can benefit: Minorities living in eligible rural areas, nonprofits and nonprofit corporations, and federally recognized tribes.
Eligibility: Businesses must be located in eligible rural areas that lack broadband speed of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
3. First Nations Development Institute grant
According to the website, this grant program offers financial and technical resources to tribes and Native nonprofit organizations to help strengthen and revitalize the Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. Grant support is provided through the Eagle Staff Fund, and it has several grantseeker resources for applicants.
Who can benefit: Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.
Eligibility: Certain funding opportunities from First Nations are dependent on location. The grants have designated funding periods, and applications received outside of that time will be denied. When applying for a grant, note your tribal affiliation information, including for board members and leadership staff.
As part of the growth grants program, these small business grants are worth up to $4,000 each and have been used by past recipients to finance a specific business need. The items previously paid for under this grant have included computers, marketing materials, hiring of part-time assistance, website creation and farm equipment, to name a few.
Who can benefit: Minority small business owners.
Eligibility: Applicants must be active members of NASE and have web accounts created in order to apply. Their applications will need to explain how they plan on using the funds allocated and how the grant will ultimately help support the growth of their business.
Additional resources on minority small business grants
For more information on minority small-business grants, the following sites serve as great references.
SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program
Commonly mistaken for a grant, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) Business Development program works alongside disadvantaged minorities to develop and grow their businesses. Qualifying groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans.
What does the SBA do to help grow these minority businesses? They provide business development assistance, such as one-on-one counseling, training workshops, management and technical guidance, and access to government contracting opportunities.
Earlier I talked about minority small-business grants available to entrepreneurs in rural areas. Now, let’s turn our focus on minorities residing in low-wealth neighborhoods. The Operation HOPE Small Business Empowerment Program was created to benefit aspiring entrepreneurs that may not be able to get their businesses started due to lack of funding and poor credit. This program provides clients with the tools and educational resources they need to become their own bosses. Some of the workshops and training offered through Operation HOPE include:
- A 12-week entrepreneurial training program
- Credit and money management workshops
- Small-business development and access to capital workshops
Additional services include credit counseling, business plan development, business financial statement assistance, and computer and internet access. There are also other small business funding programs provided, such as lines of credit and loan packaging assistance. Ultimately, Operation HOPE works to provide disadvantaged entrepreneurs the opportunity to start a business that will create jobs to strengthen the economy, while lifting up the low-wealth neighborhood their clients hail from.
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is a firm of the U.S. Department of Commerce that works to grow minority-owned businesses in a free enterprise system by working to link them to necessary capital, contracts and market opportunities throughout the nation.
Who do they support? The MBDA works alongside businesses owned by:
- African Americans
- Asian Americans
- Hasidic Jews
- Hispanic Americans
- Native Americans
- Pacific Islanders
The agency’s website states that by 2044, the prosperity of the United States will rely on minorities, as they are the fastest growing segment of the population. Entrepreneurship will be key toward building a robust economy, as it will also improve the quality of life for Americans and strengthen the country’s overall presence in the global market. For all these reasons, plus a genuine passion for entrepreneurship, the MBDA works to better equip minority-owned firms so they may grow their business, while simultaneously contributing to our country.
Find your grant
Building a business is a challenge for any entrepreneur just starting out, especially for many minorities. But it doesn’t have to be. If you are part of a minority group and don’t have enough funding for your company, explore these minority small business grants and resources before deciding you can’t afford to move forward with your startup.