If you’re a minority-owned business enterprise (MBE) there are a number of grant opportunities with a specific focus in underserved communities. Designed to level the playing field for MBEs across the U.S., these grants often require different qualifications for eligibility.
In this article we’ve compiled a list of reputable MBE-focused grants, tips on certifying your MBE, guidance on the application process, and other resources to assist you. Lastly, bookmark this page. We’ll be updating regularly as more grant opportunities become available.
📌 Pro tip: Be the first to hear about new and upcoming grant programs by joining Skip. We post new grants and loans twice a week on our app for our members before announcing them to the public.
In This Article:
- Amazon's Black Business Accelerator Program
- Backstage Capital
- Coalition to Back Black Businesses Fund
- Comcast RISE Program
- Freed Fellowship
- Grow by Invoice2Go Grant Program
- IFundWomen of Color Grant
- New England Black-Owned Businesses
- Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grant
- Minority Business Development Agency
- National Association for the Self-Employed
- Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Grant
- Operation Hope Small Business Empowerment Program
- Office Of Minority Health Grant Programs
- Power Forward Small Business Grant
- SoGal Foundation Black Founder Startup Grant
- Wish Local
Small Business Certifiers
Amazon's Black Business Accelerator Program
Amazon is supporting black entrepreneurs by helping them succeed as Amazon sellers. Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator provides black entrepreneurs the following: a $500 credit for launching costs, $400 in Sponsored Products advertising credits, free imaging services for 50 products, business mentorship, and marketing & promotional support.
Before you can apply to this program, you must have an Amazon Professional Sellers account, have a physical product(s) ready to sell, and have a certified minority-owned business registration or certification. You can obtain one through the U.S. System for Award Management or the National Minority Supplier Development Council. Applications are received on a rolling basis.
Backstage Capital Investments
Backstage Capital is a venture capital firm that invests in underrepresented founders, which they define as women, people of color, and LGBTQ founders. Their first round of investments is usually between $25,000 and $100,000. Like other venture capital firms, their investments do not have to be paid back by the founders but instead convert to stock which Backstage holds in the company. You can learn more and apply for funding here. Applications received on a rolling basis.
Coalition to Back Black Businesses Fund
The coronavirus severely impacted underserved businesses, especially predominantly Black-owned small businesses. The Coalition to Back Black Businesses Fund, set to run through 2023, provides qualifying black-owned businesses with grants valued at $5K.
Distributed on an on-going basis, several business owners will also receive $25K “enhancement” grants during the summer. In 2021, 25 grantees were selected for this enhanced grant, amounts may vary slightly each year based on funding.
Eligible businesses must:
- Meet the criteria for being a Black-owned business enterprise
- Employ between three and 20 people (including owner and any FT employees working under a 1099, or similar agreement)
- Be located in an economically disadvantaged, or vulnerable community (according to the Distressed Communities Index)
- Have been impacted financially due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
Bonus! The Coalition has partnered with Shopify to provide Black business owners with 120 days of free shop hosting on their platform to help start and grow their business online (a separate award from the grant contest).
Comcast RISE Program
The next round of the Comcast RISE Program is now open! Comcast created their Comcast RISE program to assist business owners of color with technology assistance, creative media, and marketing campaigns.
If your business is for-profit and at least 51% owned and operated by a person of color, you may qualify for one of their programs. Comcast will choose hundreds of businesses and assist them with the creation of a televised media campaign or a technology makeover for their business. Application deadline for this round is June 17, 2022.
The Freed Fellowship
The Freed Fellowship offers monthly grants of $500 to women and people of color to assist them in their entrepreneurial adventure. They also provide business mentorship and the opportunity to win their year-end grant of $2,500. To start, just answer a few quick questions and click submit. You will receive feedback on your business idea whether you are selected for the grant or not. Applications are received on a rolling basis.
Find information on thousands of grant programs across the country including set-aside contracts for MBEs. To apply, you must:
Grow by Invoice2Go Grant Program
Invoice2Go is giving away a total of $200K to minority-owned businesses between December 2021 and May 2022, through their Grow by Invoice2Go Grant Program. Every month during the program period they will award grants up to $15K.
To qualify, a business must be majority-owned by a legal U.S. citizen or resident who is:
- Asian-Indian, Asian Pacific Islander
- Native American or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
- Arab or Middle-Eastern
- A person with a disability
- Have a high-impact, scalable solution or idea, and the ambition to be the next billion dollar business
The business must also be less than 5 years old, have 10 employees or fewer, and have annual revenue of $1 million or less. The deadline this drawing is February 28, 2022.
Business owners who are women of color are eligible to apply for a $500 micro-grant through HerRise. HerRise seeks to offer financial support to women of color who are unable to secure capital for their business elsewhere. Every month, they award a $500 micro-grant to help with small projects, marketing, and other necessities. Find out more about HerRise micro-grants and apply here. Applications received on a rolling basis.
IFundWomen of Color Grant
IFundWomen has a grant opportunity called the IFundWomen of Color Grant. Applications are now being accepted for a cohort of entrepreneurs that will access IFundWomen's crowdfunding platform, a $2,500, private network of collaborators, and mentors.
If you are a woman of color, your business is located in the U.S., you have a business website, a business social media account, and a compelling business pitch, apply today for this grant and cohort opportunity. Currently, there is no deadline.
Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grant
The Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grant Program reopened applications for their $10K Opportunity Grants, specifically for Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) restaurants.
To be eligible:
Applicants must be an American citizen(s), and member of the AAPI community, who own their food truck or cart, grocery store or market, food kiosk, cafe, or restaurant.
Only 5K applications are accepted. Submissions began early January 2022.
Minority Business Development Agency
The nation’s sole lender dedicated exclusively to funding certified MBE’s, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is a department of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
As their name suggests, their purpose is to promote the growth of MBEs by connecting them to federal and private contract opportunities, as well as resources for financing. Contact your local MBDA for more information.
Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Grant
The Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Indian Affairs, supports Native American and Alaskan Native business owners focused on stimulating economic growth within their communities.
Check the NABDI website for the application acceptance period, currently slated for early Spring 2022.
National Association for the Self-Employed
The National Association for the Self-employed (NASE) is another non-profit organization that provides educational resources, and monetary rewards through their Growth Grants program. Regardless of MBE status, the NASE awards $4K grants throughout the year to self-employed workers.
To apply for any of the NASE grants, you must be a member in good standing. Grant applications are accepted every month throughout the quarter, and reviewed the first month after receipt. Recipients are awarded after all compliance documents have been received by the NASE
Operation Hope Small Business Empowerment Program
Operation Hope Small Business Empowerment Program is an eight-week training course designed to equip and empower underserved and minority entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to succeed in business.
Operation Hope’s graduates gain access to funding, training, personal development, professional services, as well as financial counseling offered at no cost to their recipients. Find out more about Operation Hope's Programs.
Office Of Minority Health Grant Programs
The Office of Minority Health (OMH), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, provides grants to businesses seeking to eliminate the health disparities experienced in ethnic and minority populations.
Check the OMH website to follow grant opportunity announcements.
Power Forward Small Business Grant
The NAACP, in conjunction with Celtics United and Vistaprint, created the Power Forward Small Business Grant. Black-owned businesses that are located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and certain areas of Connecticut may qualify if they have 25 employees or fewer. Applicants need to demonstrate how the grant will help them impact their community and are received on a rolling basis.
SoGal Foundation Black Founder Startup Grant
In partnership with Winky Lux and Bluemercury, SoGal Foundation launched the Black Founder Startup Grant. The program provides grants of $5K, and $10K to selected minority entrepreneurs.
- Must self-identify as a Black woman, or Black non-binary entrepreneur, and inclusive of multi-racial individuals
- Must have a legally registered business
- Plan to seek investor funding for growth into the future
- Have a high-impact, scalable solution or idea, and the ambition to be the next billion dollar business
Wish Local Micro Grants
Wish Local is an online platform that brings buyers and sellers together in one place, helping businesses increase their sales. Wish Local has formed a $2 million fund to support Black businesses and is offering up to $2,000 grants for qualifying businesses. If your business has a Black owner, makes less than $1 million annually, and has fewer than 20 employees, check out the Wish Local grant. Applications received on a rolling basis.
National Minority Supplier Development Council
We’ve included the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) not as a grant opportunity, but as an MBE certifier. Considered the gold standard of MBE certification, NMSDC certifications are accepted at the federal and state level and provide preferential access to its network of over 1,400 U.S. corporations.
Learn more about certifying your minority-owned business here.
SBA 8(a) Business Development Grant
The SBA 8(a) Business Development Program is an additional certification and grant program reserved for any disadvantaged business, women or minority-owned.
8(a) classification provides access to training and technical assistance for native and indigenous people, including Alaska Native corporations, Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, and Community Development Corporations.
Any company meeting the 51% minority ownership criteria is a likely candidate for SBA’s 8(a) classification. However, before you can participate in the program, you’ll need to obtain your certification as a minority-owned business first.
Here’s how to apply:
- Determine your eligibility
- Review Application Tips for Success Guide
- Schedule an SBA appointment, or
Procurement Technical Assistance counselor to review documents
- Register your business with SAM.gov
- Apply for 8(a) certification
If your application is accepted as complete, the SBA has 90 days to process it and make their decision. Once your business is certified as 8(a), it will appear in your SAM profile, as well as the Dynamic Small Business Search database, showing approval — and exit dates — for the 8(a) program.
📌 Note: Participants in the SBA’s 8(a) program must maintain their eligibility and certification on an annual basis. Each participant must submit specific supporting documentation to their SBA District Office. See the SBA’s Annual Review Checklist for more information.
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