Women and minority owned businesses can take advantage of grants offered by private institutions and government agencies. Applying for business grants, also known as grant-writing, is as much an art as it is a science, and it can be quite challenging for first-time entrepreneurs. With a bit of study and practice, however, you can gain confidence and hone your grant-writing skills, allowing you to tap into the resources of organizations that promote female and minority entrepreneurship.
Step 1Select specific grant programs that match your business and personal situation. Take note of each granting organization’s name and contact information, and compile a list of all grants for which you are eligible. Select a range of options–grants for women only, minorities only or both–if you are both a woman and a part of a minority group; this will give you a wider range of possibilities. Begin your search at grants.gov for federal funding, and srainternational.com for private funding sources.
Step 2Research the granting organization thoroughly. Visit its website and read any news articles or press releases related to the organization. Look into the types of organizations and projects that the organization funds, and research specific grant-winners, if possible. Focus on the exact purpose of the awarded grants. Grants may be awarded purely to promote female and minority entrepreneurship, for example, or they may be granted to organizations whose programs directly benefit women and minorities in general.
Step 3Contact the granting organization and ask for guidance in preparing your grant proposal. Ask a representative to speak with you about the grant proposal process, explaining such things as preferred submission formats and length, the organization’s specific areas of interest and any other grant opportunities for women and minorities that may be available. Keep your new contact’s name and information as you did with the notes you took in step one.
Step 4Create your grant proposal. The proposal should include a description of your organization, including its mission and product offerings, and a needs assessment that clearly explains the need your company serves. Focus specifically on how your organization will promote the goals of the organization that offers the grant.
Step 5Create a thorough description of your products, services and business model, and include it in your grant proposal. Add a budget, projected financial statements and a detailed summary of how you plan to spend the grant money. End the proposal with professional biographies of yourself and your top-management team. List the names of any women or minority associations or groups of which you are a member.
Step 6Create an executive summary after all other sections are done and place it at the beginning of the grant proposal.
Step 7Submit your grant proposal to your contact or designated recipient in the granting organization. Follow all format and submission instructions when sending in your proposal, and include a brief cover letter introducing yourself and your company, while thanking the grant reviewers for their time.