Despite record business growth, securing capital and funding remains a major challenge for business owners across industries and especially for women business owners.Nearly 60% of women entrepreneurs say they lack the same access to capital as their male counterparts, and almost a fourth believe women may never have equal access to capital, according to Bank of America’s 2021 Women Business Owner Spotlight survey
. Women-owned startups received only 2.3% of V.C. funding in 2020
, which breaks down to roughly $3.7 billion going towards women, as opposed to the $160 billion that male founders received.
One resource that is available to women entrepreneurs: business grants.
Grant programs can be a valuable resource that women entrepreneurs can tap into to narrow the cash flow orfunding gap. Business grants can offer a variety of advantages, such as not taking out debt or giving up equity of your business. At the same time, however, grant program applications can seem complicated or burdensome. Here are a few tips to help navigate the process:
3. Stay organized: Often, filling out grants, especially if you are trying for more than one, requires a lot of documents. It may be helpful to keep a spreadsheet of all the ones you are applying for and include what each needs and their deadlines!
Grants can be a great way to access funding, publicity and additional resources to help launch or grow your business. For example, Alibaba.com
recently announced its first-ever small business grant program where we partnered with Hello Alice to select 50 entrepreneurs, out of more than 12,000 applicants, to each receive a $10,000 cash grant to support their online business. And out of our 50 awardees, 78% were women-owned businesses!
In addition to the opportunity for grants, the thousands of applicants all received access to the Alibaba.com Digitization Sprint for Retailers
, gaining valuable insight into business topics like ecommerce basics, sourcing and supply chain, and more.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to comb through the applications—and was inspired by the unique perspectives and energies that women entrepreneurs bring to bear in cultivating a more equitable, sustainable, beautiful, knowledgeable, and healthier world. Innovative products and services targeting nursing/postpartum moms, or personal care lines designed around ease of use for todays’ women, would not be made possible if not for the courage, honesty and determination of women entrepreneurs—and I was humbled to be able to offer a sliver of support to these businesses so they can succeed and thrive on their own terms.
The rise of entrepreneurship is encouraging—but two of the biggest challenges that women entrepreneurs face are time and money. Grant programs can help by providing access to not just funding, but also publicity, content, and community. Be thoughtful about picking the right program to pursue, and make your future application one that cannot be missed!