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Ten Small Business Grants and How to Apply

When starting a small business or expanding an existing one, the first consideration tends to be financing. As many of us have been warned since childhood, “Money does not grow on trees!” On the one hand, a great idea or business venture can earn steady income and sometimes very high profits. But on the other hand, it takes money, such as small business loans, to get to that point of success and profitability. There are several types of grants to start a small business available, and so long as the borrower fulfills the requirements and sticks by the limitations, the money can stay in the business. Each grant has its own set of criteria regarding who can apply and each application may be slightly different. When it comes to a grant for a small business, it pays to read all the fine print and instructions thoroughly before beginning.

Many of the grants for small business owners are paid for with government money to help new businesses get off the ground or to encourage growth in businesses that are already operating. Whether the grant comes from a local or a federal agency, it is hoped that the business will create more job opportunities.

1. Huggies MomInspired Grant Program

To encourage mothers in their innovative ideas for children’s products, the Huggies MomInspired Grant Program distributes grant money and business resources. The amount of the award is $15,000 and the decisions are made according to a panel of judges. Evaluation period is about 6 weeks and relevant applicants are interviewed by phone. Applications can be found online at www.huggiesmominspired.com.

2. FedEx Small Business Grants

The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is a national competition that splits small business grants of $50,000 to six different entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses. $25,000 goes to the top winner and each of the five additional winners are entitled to $5,000 each. Deadline for entry is usually in February. The entry form can be found at: http://smallbusinessgrant.fedex.com.

3. Small Business Innovation Research Grants

This program (SBIR) provides funds for small businesses to research biomedical and behavioral subjects that can lead to a viable commercial product. Award amounts and deadlines vary, but applications can be accessed at:
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbirsttr_programs.htm
BusinessDevelopmentGrants.aspx

4. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

The DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, also known as DBE, guards against discrimination in the awarding and distribution of contracts that are DOT assisted in the areas of transit, highway, and airport financial assistance programs. With the goal of keeping the playing field level, it helps alleviate stress on small businesses. It also handles minority small business grants that enable specialized training regarding competing for contracts successfully. Eligible applicants must own at least 51% of their own small business and establish themselves as disadvantaged. Applications and details are listed at: www.dot.gov/osdbu/disadvantaged-business-enterprise.

5. National Association for the Self-Employed

National Association for the Self Employed offers Growth Grants, or grants that are available for specific types of small business needs. These funds can be used for such things as hiring extra help, paying for marketing materials, buying computers or new farm equipment. Owners of micro-businesses can apply for $5,000 to help them achieve business growth. The deadline is ongoing and applications are at www.nase.org/Membership/GrantsandScholarships/BusinessDevelopmentGrants.aspx

6. Minority Business Development Agency Business Grants

This grant program matches appropriate angel investors with owners of minority small businesses. The deadlines and award amounts vary. Details and application details are at:
www.MBDA.gov/main/grantcompetitions

7. The Miller Lite Tap the Future Business Plan Competition

This annual competition is especially for minority business owners. Applicants must be over 21 and the owner of a US small business. The application and further instructions are at http://www.mltapthefuture.com/

8. Dare to Dream Grant Program

This is designed to help students as they find their way through each step of creating their own businesses. The program awards $500 – $10,000 in funding along with business development seminars. Applications can be found at:
www.zli.bus.umich.edu/events_programs/dream_grant.asp

9. USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grants

Especially created to help businesses in rural areas, this is one of the many minority small business grants that include help to Indian tribes and other non-profit rural corporations. Award amounts range from $10,000- $500,000. Applications can be found at:
www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_rbeg.html

10. The U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Government offers numerous grant opportunities to small businesses that include minority small business grants and small business grants for veterans. Since the funds derive from tax dollars, the rules are extremely stringent. Go to http://www.sba.gov/content/facts-about-government-grants for complete details and application requirements.

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