Washington, DC- Addressing the needs of women and the role they play in America’s  economy, the U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a nationwide competition for entrepreneurs who are developing products and services that will enhance the lives of women and their families.

“The landscape of the U.S. economy has evolved drastically during the last 50 years, and women played a significant role in that change,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “We are harnessing the power of America’s entrepreneurs to develop products, services and technologies that support women as they deal with the challenges of work and home.  This innovation challenge will both help strengthen the economy and empower women to succeed.”

InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge kicked off in early March with local competitions hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, SBA’s resource partners, and other local organizations.  The SBA is seeking entrepreneurs who have created a product or service that will have a measurable impact on women and their families, fills a need in the marketplace, and has the potential for commercialization.

Those entrepreneurs selected by local judges will make it to the semi-final round.  An executive committee comprised of SBA officials will review the semi-final nomination packages and select no more than 10 finalists.  The finalists will compete for a total of $30,000 in prize money provided by Microsoft.

The 10 finalists will travel to the District of Columbia on May 8th where they’ll pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges during SBA’s National Small Business Week.

For details on contest rules and a list of local competitions,

WASHINGTON–The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced today that the Impact Investment Fund of the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program has tripled in the last 12 months.

“Capital investment in some sectors, geographies and industries is still lower than you would expect and like. Through the Impact Investment Fund, we’ve sent a message to professional fund managers with expertise in areas like clean energy, education technology, and advanced manufacturing as well as those looking for 'off the beaten path' gems in low income or economic distressed communities across the country. SBICs as a whole, fill capital formation gaps at the low end of the middle market, the Impact Fund, puts a magnifying glass where the gaps are widest," said SBA Associate Administrator for Investment and Innovation Javier Saade.

The SBA began 2014 with two Impact SBICs managing $182 million and ended the year with six Impact SBICs collectively managing between $442 million and $572 million in total assets depending on the amount of credit guarantees approved and employed.   Given the SBIC Impact Investment Fund is still well below the originally expected $1 billion leverage level, there is room to further grow the list of professional investors interested in pursuing impact strategies.

Three of the six Impact SBICs have not deployed capital.  The other three have invested in 33 companies across the country and collectively employ approximately 4,600 people.  These companies include an organic cage-free poultry operation in Texas, a wood waste-to-pellet fuel concern in Michigan and an educational institution in an urban low-income community in Puerto Rico.

One of the policy changes made was seemingly simple but equally meaningful – the Impact Investing Initiative became the Impact Investment Fund, making it a permanent feature of the SBIC Program.  The Fund uses the rapidly evolving strategies that involve marrying financial gains and intentional social returns to narrow gaps.

Initially, SBIC’s were limited to SBA-identified impact investments, but now because of the flexibility of the Impact Investment Fund, participating funds can identify and pursue their own strategies.  In addition to the expansion of this fund, SBA removed several key barriers that prevented access to it by:

  • Lifting the $200 million restriction to offer licensed Impact SBICs better access to leverage;
  • Removing the waiting period in accessing multiple leverage commitments; and
  • Permitting existing SBICs to opt-in if they meet the Impact Fund requirements.

The reasons for the relatively slow deployment of impact investing strategies at the institutional level are varied and complex, but one of the main reasons, is the adoption of standards to measure intentional social impact has been spotty.  The SBA and the federal government, supports the adoption of standards to further enable more institutional private capital flow to the small business community.

Information on the fund and the policy can be found here.  The changes were made based on feedback from a significant number of private sector stakeholders and were consistent with themes the SBA heard from impact investors the White House roundtable on Impact Investing that was held this past summer.  The comments align with the recommendations of the US National Advisory Board on Impact Investing released this summer and with the findings of the G8 Task Force on Social Impact Investing, Impact Investment: The Invisible Heart of Markets.

The six Impact SBICs are:

2011 Michigan Growth Capital Partners SBIC, LP
2012 SJF Ventures III, LP
2014 Bridges Ventures U.S. Sustainable Growth Fund, LP
2014 Morgan Stanley Impact Fund
2014 Bluehenge Secured Debt SBIC, LP
2014* Renovus Capital Partners, LP

If you're frustrated by the conflicting and inaccurate information you've found regarding grant money for a small business, then don't worry. This article is your best source for the most accurate and up to date data. Read on and find out why!

Many people today searching for small business grant money to start their own for profit business assume that grants are nothing more than "free money." Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but small business grant money is hardly "free money" at all. In fact, these grants are more like contracts with their own set of obligations and restrictions that you must comply with or risk suffering sanctions imposed by your funding resource.

In the case of government grants, the rules are even stricter. One of the first places that people often turn to is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, which is where all listings of government grants approved by Congress are announced. The problem with this resource is that there are very few programs available for small businesses.

These grants are usually awarded to deserving individuals or nonprofit organizations having some community-based project in mind. Rarely will you find a government grant awarded to help set up a for profit business. That is why when searching for a small business grant you should not turn only to the government for funding resources.

A good source of grant money is the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). The AFP is considered the chief professional association for fundraisers. The association was formerly known as the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE). Their website at offers sections on ethics, public policy, publications (including AFP's online bookstore), professional advancement, local chapters, jobs, and youth in philanthropy (along with a member gateway/dashboard).

Besides that, the AFP also provides a list of organizations (including their websites) that are among the top basic resources of grant money. Foremost on their list is the Foundation Center at, which publishes the revered Foundation Directory.

Consider contracts. Government money can sometimes come in the form of contracts. "If you can demonstrate that your company can execute a budget line item, if you can shape part of your idea to what the government wants done for a particular project – say something educational or construction-oriented – if you can fill a need, you can compete," says Francie Ward, CEO of the Business Owner's Idea Café at

Thank you for reading this article. I hope that it has helped you and that you were able to find, through our research, the answers you were seeking.

Poor financing is the number two reason small businesses fail, falling right behind poor management. Sufficient funding is paramount to the success of small businesses, and small business grants can be the answer to the problem. If business owners have the necessary knowledge about how to find and properly request grants, they have a better shot at creating a successful business that will be open longer and prosper.

There are over 300 different grants and loans available for small businesses that are just starting out. The grants range from $25,000 up to $1,000,000 depending on the size and projected success rate of the business. There are also grants available to help small businesses grow or expand. Grants are not the same as loans because they do not have to be repaid. A grant is considered free money, as well as an investment to promote the success of small businesses and the U.S. economy. Money for grants comes from income taxes. Obtaining a small business grant does not require credit checks or deposits, even if the owners have experienced bankruptcy in the past.

There are a number of helpful websites that send small businesses government grant packages for free, excluding the cost of shipping. These packages include information on how to find grants, how to prepare a grant request, and how to apply for grants pertaining to a specific business. Some of the providers are Government Funding Solutions, Grant Master, and Grant Wizard.

It is important to be familiar with the Small Business Administration's (SBA) rules for receiving grants before beginning the process of obtaining one. Although the SBA does not provide grants to small businesses, they do provide helpful suggestions and resources on how to find grants.

In order to qualify for a small business grant, individuals must first become familiar with the 13 CFR 143 document that lists all of the requirements to be eligible for a grant. This document includes information on the pre-award and post-award periods and defines all aspects of applying for a grant and states who is eligible. The CFR is the primary source of rules and regulations for small business grants and must be read before starting the grant writing process.

After reviewing the requirements, prospective business owners must write a grant request. There are professionals who will write a grant proposal or the individuals may complete it themselves. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance is a helpful site that links individuals to resources about federal grants for small businesses. gives helpful tips on how to write a small business grant and, although it is geared toward grants for after school programs, includes helpful information for grant writing in general.

Additionally, there are many well-established government and private organizations that provide grants to small businesses. The Department of Justice's Ten Grant document gives access to grant opportunities for those conducting research in support of law enforcement. The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration has several grant opportunities for small business owners. They offer about $125 million to businesses that are based in a community setting with special attention to training programs. The Department of Transportation is another organization that offers small business grants. They offer grants to any business willing to help resolve the growing problems with the federal-aid highway program. The Department of Education has a program called e-GRANTS that locates electronic grants online. They have a detailed list of grants available and the necessary applications to fill out. There are a variety of grants available for different groups, all of which have detailed descriptions and contact information. Other organizations that provide small business grants include the EPA, the National Cancer Institute, NOAA, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.