While it’s almost impossible to fully fund a business on grants alone, minority business grants are a great way to supplement other types of funding. For example, if you win a grant, you can use it to reduce the amount of debt you need to take on. You could use the funds to reduce the amount of cash on hand you have to use. In turn, this would reduce the need to take on debt in the future. Grants can be a great funding option for minority owned business.
Minority Business Grants are a Great Way to Supplement Funding
Of course, finding and winning minority business grants is easier said than done. It takes considerable time and work to do so. First, you have to do the research to find the grants you qualify to apply for. Then, you have to do the work of filing the grant application. In some cases, the application is just the first step in a long, competitive process.
Some wonder what the point is in even bothering to try to get grants if they are so rare and competitive. Is it worth it if they are so hard to get? The simple answer is, yes. Grants are free money. The funds never have to be repaid. If you win a grant, you get to keep the funds free and clear.
However, there are sometimes compliance points that come into play. There may be certain rules for the use of the funds you have to adhere to. Still, when it comes to minority business grants, they are all designed to help you build a better business. For free money, the compliance hassle is a small price to pay.
Where Do Minority Business Grants Come From?
They come from a variety of sources. The government issues some grants from minority business owners. Special agencies will sometimes have grant opportunities. Even private businesses will offer grants sometimes, including big names like FedEx.
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Do You Qualify for Minority Business Grants?
Who knows? Maybe? If your business is under more than 51% minority ownership, the answer is likely yes. Other than the minority ownership piece, some minority business grants are designed for a specific minority group. It can take some time to seek out those grants for which you specifically qualify.
Some Minority Business Grants to Try
Here are some minority grant options to consider. There are certainly others out there however, and they are not always well advertised. This means you need to be sure to do your own research also.
Minority Business Grants: First Nations Development Institute Grants
The mission of this group is to offer grants that help Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Americans. They offer assistance in the application process in addition to funds.
Not only that, but there are a wide range of opportunities from the First Nations Development Institute. New ones initiate as old ones retire. There is a mailing list you can join to receive information about new opportunities as they become available.
Minority Business Grants: National Black MBA Association Scale-Up Pitch Challenge
Also known as NBMBAA, the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge has cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. The associate states its purpose is to help newer businesses that have an African founder that maintains equal ownership.
A business must be a member of the NBMBAA to compete. There is a $10 monthly membership fee. After that, there is an online application. If chosen, you must submit a three-minute pitch. Then, finalists go on to compete at the NBMBAA annual conference.
Non-Minority Specific Options
There are grants options that can work well even though they are not exclusively for minorities. Some examples include the following.
FedEx Small Business Grant
This grant is the company’s way of working to strengthen small business innovation. There are 10 grants the company awards each year. They range from $15,000 to $50,000, and if you’re a minority owned business with a cutting-edge product, this could be the grant for you.
A business must use the FedEx website to submit entries. There are a few questions to answer about your business. In addition, there is a requirement for an elevator pitch about what makes your business special. Also, you have to explain how you would use the grant funds. A 90 second video submission is optional.
NASE Growth Grants
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) has small business Growth Grants of up to $4,000. They are for micro-businesses, and proceeds can be used for a number of things. They can be utilized for marketing, advertising, expansion, and even to hire employees. These grants are open to everyone. However, you do have to be an NASE member to apply. Membership fees vary based on the membership level chosen.
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USDA Value Added Producer Grant
The USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program offers grants for small businesses. It includes minority owned business. Grants range up to $250,000. They are specifically to help agricultural producers with activities that add value to their products. As a result, grants are open to those in rural areas. They must be operating as one of the following:
- an independent agricultural producer
- or an agricultural producer group
What About Loans?
As I said above, you can’t fund a business on grants alone. They work better as a supplemental funding source. Likely, you will need to seek out business loans. There aren’t a ton of loans specifically for minorities, but some options do work better for minority business owners than others.
Minority Specific Loans
Minority specific business loans are few and far between. However, they do exist. Some only offer minority business loans to those in certain cities. Some are only available if you are looking to land government contracts. Each have their own requirements, and it takes a ton of time and research to figure it all out. With the information below though, you don’t have to start from scratch.
Business Consortium Fund, Inc.
This program is specifically for minority businesses. It is certified by the US Department of the Treasury. Businesses can qualify for $75,000 to $500,000 after approval. Also, amounts above $500,000 are available on a case by case basis.
Allowable fund usage includes working capital, equipment financing, and contract financing. To apply, you have to certify your business through The National Minority Supplier Development Council. In addition, you must have a supplier relationship with the Council.
National African American Small Business Loans
These loans are only available in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. The NASBLF provides capital to African American minority-owned businesses. Specifically, those that are not eligible for more traditional forms of financing.
Loans range from $35,000 to $250,000. In addition, other services are available. These include technical assistance and financial consultation services. Business owners can use funds for expansion, equipment purchases, and cash flow. They only have $30 million total to loan out in a year, unless more grant funds become available to the program.
Accion offers loans in all states. Funds are available to the following:
- those with disabilities
- and low to medium income business owners
Loan amounts start from $200,000 and go up to $300,000. Business owners can use them to help build businesses from the beginning. Accion can also put owners in contact with other resources to help build a network of support.
The minimum credit score for these loans is 575. In addition, you cannot be 30 days late on credit cards, loan payments, or bills. Also, you will not qualify if you have any late rent or mortgage payments over the past year.
Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI)
This group lends to those communities that are traditionally underbanked, including business owners that are minorities. Since the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, banks are required to offer funding in communities that find it hard to qualify for traditional funding. Big banks often fund minority business owners indirectly through their CDFI partners.
To locate a CDFI, contact the local business development center or your local Small Business Development Center office. They can hook you up.
While the application process can be long, they do offer assistance to prepare for future bank loans. Another benefit is that their rates are competitive within the U.S.
Union Bank Business Diversity Lending Program
This program from Union Bank assists minority business owners with loans and lines of credit. To qualify as a minority for this program you must be Hispanic, American Indian, Latino, Asian, Alaskan Native, African American, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander.
A business that has revenue of up to $20 million could qualify for a loan of up to $2.5 million. However, you must be in business for at least 2 years, and the minority business owner must own at least 51 percent.
Businesses owned by Native Americans can get financing from the federal government through the Indian Affairs branch. An individual can fill out an application for up to $500, 000, but business entities and tribal enterprises my apply for more.
Potential borrowers can apply with any lending institution, they just have to use the application for Indian Affairs. Additional requirements are in place if the funds are used for construction, renovation, or refinancing. In general, a list of collateral, a credit report, and an analysis of business operations are required.
Camino Financial is an online lender that offers minority-owned businesses loans. They also offer business solutions. They are an easy and convenient option. Mostly because they offer the entire application process online. Microloans range from $5,000 to $50,000. Also, they offer small business loans between $10,000 to $400,000.
There is no requirement for security. In addition, you can pay off the loan any time with no penalties or fees. Pre-qualification comes within 24 hours. Since all documents are submitted online, you do not have to make unnecessary trips to turn in or sign papers either.
Other Loans that Are a Good Option for Minority Businesses
While not specifically for minority business owners, these loans often work well for them.
Surprisingly, there is no minimum credit score. Consequently, if you have at least $50,000 in annual revenue, you can qualify for a line of credit from Fundbox. Additionally, you need to be in business for at least 3 months. Amounts range from $1,000 to $100,000 with rates from 10.1% to 79.8%. Terms are for 12 weeks, and funds are available as quickly as the next business day.
Kabbage is another lender that will make loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 500. Terms are for 6, 12, or 18 months and amounts range from $2,000 to $250,000. Interest rates are higher, at 24% to 99%. Funding can take several days, but sometimes happens in just a few minutes.
Another option is QuarterSpot. In fact, some prefer it due to terms that go up to 18 months. Loans range from $5,000 to $250,000. However, rates are pretty high at 30% to 70%. Still, approval can come in as little as 24 hours.
Credibility Capital loans range from $50,000 to $400,000. Terms are for 1,2, or 3 years, with rates ranging from 10% to 25%. Like most, funding usually takes around 7 days.
Lastly, SmartBiz offers low cost financing for expansion. Unlike the others, these are SBA loans. However, with SmartBiz, funding happens a lot faster than with traditional financial institutions. Truthfully, they can take as little as a few weeks instead of a few months.
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Minority Business Grants and Loans Make a Winning Combination
A business with minority ownership has resources available to it that are not available to all business owners. They come in the form of both loans and grants for minorities. Pursuing both allows you take advantage of as many resources as possible.
If you still need more, you can apply for loans that are not specifically for minority owned businesses. Even if you do not qualify for traditional financing due to a low credit score, there are options.
Regardless of what combination of funding works best for you, remember to ensure your business is as fundable as possible. Find out more about fundability and what affects it here.
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