7 Grants to Help You Start Your Business Today

New business owners in need of funding to start the business of their dreams can finally start applying to grants that meet their needs. Small businesses are often faced with funding challenges, and having grant options can go a long way to help create some form of financial backing for new business owners looking to launch their businesses.

National Black MBA Association Scale-Up Pitch Challenge

  • Submission Dates: Submissions for the 2021 competition are currently being accepted. Entrants have until July 26, 2021 to submit their pitches.
  • Entry Requirements: Applicants must be US residents who are at least 18 years old. All ideas submitted must be the original work of the applicant. All applicants must disclose any funding previously received. The business founder must be Black or of African descent and have an equal stake in the business. The applicant or at least one team member must be a member of the National Black MBA Association.
  • Website: https://nbmbaa.org/scale-up-pitch-challenge/

Since 2017, the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) has recognized scalable startups and provided grants for black-owned businesses through its Scale-Up Pitch Challenge. This competition gives startups a chance to connect with investors and venture capitalists. Additionally, winners may be awarded prizes from $1,000 up to $50,000 for their pitches.

Interested applicants can submit their pitch and a Powerpoint presentation. Select participants will then be invited to pitch their ideas to a team of experts for a shot at winning a cash prize. Finalists will be notified via email in early September.

Sephora Accelerate

  • Submission Dates: Application information, requirements, and deadlines will be posted to the Sephora Accelerate website on October 1, 2021, for the 2022 competition.
  • Entry Requirements: All applicants must be at least 18 years old and own an early-stage brand that’s not yet widely distributed. Applicants should at least have a sample or prototype before applying. Must have a merchandise product brand, such as makeup, skincare, fragrance, hair care, and wellness.
  • Website: https://sephoraaccelerate.com/

The beauty retailer Sephora is giving back to minorities. The company already signed the Fifteen Percent Pledge by committing at least 15% of shelf space to black-owned businesses. Sephora goes a step further to help aspiring entrepreneurs with grants for minorities through the Sephora Accelerate program.

If selected for the program, winners will complete a six-month program that includes two all-expense-paid trips for program events, mentoring, and a hands-on boot camp. Winners will also receive a monetary grant and be eligible for additional funding. Sephora’s goal is to ensure that all products created by winners are launched in Sephora stores at the end of the program.

Coalition To Back Black Businesses Fund

  • Submission Dates: The submission period for 2020-2021 is currently closed. However, interest forms are expected to be available again in September 2021 for the next round of rolling grants.
  • Entry Requirements: Black business owners in eligible industries may apply. Eligible businesses must employ between three and 20 people. Businesses must also be located in an economically vulnerable community and have been impacted by the coronavirus.
  • Website: https://webackblackbusinesses.com/

The coronavirus hit small businesses hard in 2020, and the effects are expected to be felt for years to come — especially in economically vulnerable areas. This is why a number of organizations, including American Express, Stanley Black & Decker, and the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, came together to form the Coalition to Back Black Businesses.

This initiative is set to run through 2023 and provides Black business owners impacted by the coronavirus with free business grants for minorities. Grants are valued at $5,000 and will be distributed on a rolling basis to hundreds of eligible small businesses throughout the fall.

SoGal Foundation Black Founder Startup Grant

  • Submission Dates: This is a rolling grant program with grants awarded at the end of each month.
  • Entry Requirements: Black women and Black nonbinary entrepreneurs qualify for the program. Multiracial black applicants may also apply. All entrants must have a registered business, plan to seek investor financing in the future, and have a scalable business or idea.
  • Website: https://www.iamsogal.com/black-founder-startup-grant/

The SoGal Foundation has teamed up with businesses such as Winky Lux and Bluemercury to launch the Black Founder Startup Grant. This program is designed to provide Black women and Black nonbinary entrepreneurs with grants to start or further their businesses.

This program provides grants of $5,000 and $10,000 to select entrants. Additionally, winners also receive lifetime access to the SoGal Foundation and SoGal Ventures teams. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and awards are given at the end of each month.

Rebuild The Block Grants

  • Submission Dates: The grant runs continuously in 3-month cycles. Rebuild The Block accepts 90 submissions per cycle. Submit your application, and you’ll be eligible for the next funding cycle.
  • Entry Requirements: Applicants must be a Black-owned small business that was impacted by COVID-19 and/or looting. Businesses must have been launched on or before January 1, 2020. All applicants must be able to verify the legitimacy of the business and any financial losses incurred.
  • Website: https://www.rebuildtheblock.org/home

According to its mission statement, Rebuild the Block “bridges black business owners within our communities with reputable resources to infiltrate generational wealth and capital in the black community.” One of the ways that Rebuild the Block is helping is with its Small Business Relief Fund.

Through this program, Black-owned small businesses affected by the coronavirus or by looting/civil unrest can receive monetary grants. Up to 15 winners are selected each 3-month cycle. The organization does not specify the monetary value of its grants, but it has given out over 25 grants and has a fundraising goal of $1 million to help Black-owned businesses. Freelancers and creative entrepreneurs are also eligible to apply for this program.

Minority Business Development Agency

A US Department of Commerce agency, the purpose of the Minority Business Development Agency, or MBDA, is to help connect minority business owners to federal contracts and other financial resources. The agency also has historically periodically awarded grants to minority-owned companies for specific purposes.

There are MBDA centers in many major cities that can assist you in finding funding. From helping you find grants and loans to providing marketing and legal assistance, the MBDA’s physical business centers are set up to offer a range of services to minority business owners and entrepreneurs. Here’s a searchable directory of these MBDA business centers.

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