Where to Look for Free Small Business Funding: Grants and Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic has blown open the doors to opportunity. This is an excellent time to launch or grow a business, as the evolving needs of consumers are creating new gaps in the market that both new and existing companies can fill.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it is easy right now. Building a company is never without obstacles, but this is a particularly challenging time for many entrepreneurs who are trying to raise capital.

Nonetheless, whether you’re experiencing personal financial struggles, a lack of job security, or are simply worried about the general economic uncertainty of our times, there are places you can look for free money to help you reach your goals. Girl Investment Group offers the following information on some of the most prominent grants and programs available to the business hopefuls out there:

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Female-Owned Business Grants

ZenBusiness offers up 11 grants that are specific to female-owned ventures, but here are a few to get you started.

Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant

A fashion brand that has always been female-forward, the Eileen Fisher Grant awards range from $10,000 to $40,000 for businesses that meet specific criteria. They include businesses that focus on training women and young girls in climate advocacy, helping women make strides in a sustainable market, or encourage decision-making participation and ownership from women and girls.


The ultimate source for finding female business-friendly grants, this database provides access to a wealth of grant opportunities in the private, public, and government sectors. Not all grants are specific to women-owned businesses, but with so much to offer it’s worth a look.

Private Small Business Grants

Let’s start with some general small business grants provided by private organizations:

Nav Small Business Grant

If your small business is established and hoping to expand, you may qualify for up to $10,000 from the Nav Small Business Grant. Simply complete the application form, share your voting link on social media, and include a little bit of your company’s story.

The Barstool Fund (Barstool Sports)  

If your small business has a history of consistent success, and you held onto most of your employees throughout the pandemic, then the Barstool Fund could be the grant for you. Just apply for the fund; winners are selected on a rolling basis.

GoFundMe Relief Fund

For qualifying small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19, the relief fund from GoFundMe will give $500 grants, as well as raise a minimum of $500 by way of a GoFundMe campaign. Backed by GoFundMe, Yelp, GoDaddy, and Intuit QuickBooks, this fund is easy to apply for and quite simple. If you have an existing campaign, all you have to do is add the hashtag #SmallBusinessRelief to the campaign and confirm your business by completing a form.

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Private Industry-Specific Programs

Just as there are grants and programs designed for small businesses in general terms, there are also those that cater to specific entrepreneurs and industries. Here are some of the most prevalent:

Warrior Rising

Warrior Rising was founded by combat veterans. The nonprofit provides grants for veterans who are trying to start a business. Along with funding, those who qualify will receive access to personalized mentors and business guidance. Additionally, Warrior Rising will connect you with a community of veteran businessmen and women, as well as other potential financial resources.

Libraries Transforming Communities

The name of this program says it all. As you know, the pandemic severely impacted all kinds of businesses. This American Library Association program targets libraries specifically in rural communities. As many as 650 libraries will receive $3,000 for advancing media literacy in their respective areas. The money can also be used for developing safety procedures during the pandemic.

NASE Growth Grants

The National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE) has already delivered more than $1 million to each member through this grant program. Each grant totals up to $4,000 and is specifically tailored toward marketing, training, and other critical aspects of day-to-day business operations. If you have been a member of NASE for at least 90 days, you can apply for these grants now.

Government Small Business Grants

Finally, there are more than a few small business grants issued by the government. We’ve listed some to consider below.

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan

If you live in a low-income area and your business was hit hard by the pandemic, you may qualify for up to $10,000 in advances on the accompanying EIDL loan. The targeted EIDL Advances are distributed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants

This grant program offers funding opportunities for a wide range of businesses, including higher education institutions, state entities, public bodies, and tribal entities. To qualify, you must operate in a low-income rural area. If you get into the RISE program, you can receive anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million over the course of four years for creating high-wage jobs and many other functions.

If you’ve been dreaming of starting or growing a business but don’t know how to get the funding necessary, the options above are a great place to start. Keep researching other private and government grant programs to see everything that’s out there. In no time, you could be running a thriving operation!

Guest Article By : Elena Stewart, Elena Stewart