A Gusto study stated that 49% of entrepreneurs in 2021 were women, an increase from 28% in 2019. Despite this improvement, only 2% of these startups receive venture capital investment, which is a bit poor.
As a women entrepreneur, there are a lot of funding options out there that you can apply to. Most women entrepreneurs are not aware of the existence of these platforms, making them worried when starting a business. Now, you don’t need to worry. You can get funding for your business as long as it is viable.
Here are the 15 best startup funding options for women entrepreneurs.
15 Startup Funding Options for Women Entrepreneurs 2023
1. Cartier Women’s Initiative
The Cartier Women’s Initiative is one of the best startup funding options for women entrepreneurs. It is an international entrepreneurship program that offers multiple awards annually to “women-owned and women-run businesses regardless of the sector and the country that is focused on having a sustainable and strong environmental and social impact.
The grants are usually between $30,000 to $100,000. In 2021, the Cartier Women’s Initiative launched a new arm, the “Science & Technology Pioneer Award,” that helps to cater to women working on innovative technological and scientific projects.
2. 37 Angels
37 Angels is an investment firm founded on the mandate to close the gender gap in startup investment. The organization invests in startups from both women and men at their early stages. Their process is transparent and open to entrepreneurs from any field.
To get your business invested, you must pitch it well and convince the investors that it is worth the investment. The pitch forums are held every two months.
3. She Wins Africa
She Wins Africa is a program that was founded to assist women entrepreneurs in sub–Saharan Africa by giving them access to mentorship, networking opportunities, and training to ensure their startups succeed.
She Wins Africa stated that African women are 24% more likely to start a business than other women in other parts of the world, making them the women with the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity globally. One of the things limiting sub-Saharan women is startup capital, and this organization is set up to solve this problem.
To be eligible for this program, you must be over 21 years old, your business must be at least a year old, and you must be fluent in English and/or French. As a participant, you must be available to travel to networking events and attend online training sessions during the next 12 months.
4. Amber Grant Foundation
The Amber Grant Foundation is among the best startup funding for women entrepreneurs. It was established in 1998 by WomensNet in honor of Amber Wigdahl, an aspiring young woman entrepreneur who died at the age of 19 years.
The Amber Grant Foundation offers grants to women entrepreneurs to take off their businesses. The foundation provides $30,000 in grant funds monthly, including two year-end grants of $25,000 each.
5. Fearless Fund
Fearless Fund is one of the best startup funding options for women entrepreneurs founded by women of color for women of color. Fearless Fund offers venture capital funds for women-owned businesses that need pre-seed, seed-level, or series A financing.
Fearless Fund partners with multinational corporate partners such as UPS, Coca-Cola, and Mastercard. In 2023, the company launched the “Fearless Strivers Grant Contest” contest for Black women who owned any U.S.-based small businesses. The four women will be selected and will be given $20,000 grants, coupled with mentorship opportunities and digital growth tools.
6. Women Entrepreneurship For Africa (WE4A)
The Women Entrepreneurship for Africa offers African women entrepreneurs access to funding, technical training, market opportunities, and knowledge enhancement. The WE4A program is jointly supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), and the European Union (E.U.), and the funding implemented by the German Development Agency GIZ (E4D program) and Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).
WE4A offers €10,000 grant funding to 120 selected women entrepreneurs from the TEF alum network. Also, WE4A offers an additional €50,000 in grant funding for 15 businesses with high-growth potential. This is in addition to three months of technical support via a virtual acceleration program.
7. BELLE Capital USA
BELLE Capital USA is one of the legit startup funding options for women entrepreneurs that offers early-stage funding for women-led high-growth businesses and companies in underserved markets.
BELLE invests specifically in 10 to 15 companies currently making a revenue of $1 million but can reach $120 million or more within 3 to 5 years. BELLE focuses on startup businesses in four sectors: digital health, I.T., CleanTech, and technology-enabled products and services, and invests between $100,000 and $1.5 million, which are delivered in proportion depending on your milestone achievement.
GrantsForWomen.org is a fantastic website for women entrepreneurs who are seeking grants. One of the best things about this website is that it lists national and local opportunities, making it easy to know and locate organizations offering funding.
Additionally, the site dishes out timely and recent opportunities, so it is worth visiting and checking regularly.
9. Female Founders Fund
Female Founders Fund was established to invest in women-run and up-and-coming women-owned startups. Since 2014, the Female Founders Fund has been investing in women-owned businesses. It is known to have a strong community with defining female leaders to fuel the success of the businesses.
Female Founders Fund invests in businesses in consumer, healthcare, B2B, fintech, and social companies.
iFundWomen offers some of the best startup funding options for women entrepreneurs. The organization has a tool, “iFundWomen Universal Grant Application,” that matches your businesses if it aligns with grant criteria in the database. You will be notified if you are qualified for a sponsored grant.
In addition, iFundWomen offers a platform for women entrepreneurs seeking to crowdfund, including educational resources to help them start and manage their businesses.
11. Ms. Foundation for Women
The Ms. Foundation for Women’s mission aimed to support women-owned businesses to advance equity for women of color who historically have been underrepresented.
The Ms. Foundation focuses on businesses or companies in three sectors: women’s health, economic justice, and safety. The grants are administered via targeted requests for proposals, which is limited. Sometimes, open calls for proposals are posted on the organization’s website so that you can keep an eye out for them.
In addition to giving grants, they provide strategic assistance to help women entrepreneurs business achieve lasting growth and success.
12. Kapor Capital
Kapor Capital is an Oakland-based venture capital firm that aims to empower founders from all backgrounds, including female entrepreneurs. According to the firm, 38% of its “first-time investments have a woman as a founder.” It focuses explicitly on funding health, work, education, finance, and justice startups.
13. SoGal Ventures
SoGal Ventures is a notable women-led venture capital firm that invests in “early-stage businesses” in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the U.S. This venture capital firm has invested in over 70 companies. In addition to funding, they offer startup resources, advisory, mentorship services, coaching, and events to diverse startups who want to network or are looking for help.
14. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is one of the best places to seek startup funding options for women entrepreneurs. SBA uses its “Lender Match tool” to connect women-owned businesses to financing opportunities.
In addition, SBA helps to connect female entrepreneurs to contracting opportunities via the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.
15. Tory Burch Foundation
Established in 2009, the Tory Burch Foundation has several funding programs targeting empowering women entrepreneurs. As a fellow, you receive a $5,000 grant for business education and undergo a five-day workshop series at the Tory Burch offices. Additionally, you can be invited to pitch your business on Pitch Day as a fellow.
These startup funding options for women entrepreneurs are fantastic. However, they each have their criteria and eligibility requirements they must meet. In going through the options, pay special attention to their needs and ensure your business satisfies them before applying. In addition to funding, some offer access to mentorship, education, and networking opportunities. So, read carefully and choose the one that best suits your business and which your business meets with the eligibility criteria.