A young woman sits at a wood-topped counter in a plant shop and looks at something on the screen of an open laptop. With one hand, the woman holds a clay pot; with the other, she manipulates the track pad on the laptop. The woman wears a gray apron over a light blue T-shirt. Her hair is pulled up in a bun and partially covered by a paisley-patterned headband. Most of the counter is covered with potted plants and flowers, as are the wooden shelves on the wall behind the woman.
Grants come with varying criteria and can be backed by private companies and organizations or by the government at the federal, state, and local levels. — Getty Images/AsiaVision

Small business grants are offered by state and federal agencies or private companies. Grants are an excellent way to start or grow your small business without taking on debt or giving up equity. Here are seven ways to find small business grant opportunities.

[Read more: 53 Grants, Loans, and Programs to Benefit Your Small Business]

State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

The Small Business Administration (SBA) funds the STEP grant program, and over $200 million has been awarded in assistance. This program provides state and local governments with financial resources to help small businesses expand into international markets.

The eligibility criteria and funding will vary depending on where you live. However, the funds can be used to learn how to export, take part in export trade show exhibits, and participate in foreign trade missions.


If you’re interested in applying for federal grants, you’ll want to check out Grants.gov. With this comprehensive database, you can access over 1,000 small business grants offered by various federal agencies.

You’ll start by registering a Workspace account — this allows you to apply for multiple grants and track your application process. Plus, Workspace allows grant teams to simultaneously edit different forms within an application.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

SBDCs are administered by the SBA and provide training and resources to small businesses and startups. There is at least one SBDC located in every state and territory across the United States.

These centers don’t offer grants or financing but can help you find the right opportunities for your business. And they can walk you through the process of applying for federal grants.

[Read more: ​​What Is a Small Business Development Center?]

To find additional corporate grants, start by searching for corporations in your area and finding out what they offer.

USDA Rural Business Development Grant

The USDA administers the Rural Business Development Grant, which provides financing for small businesses in rural areas. To qualify, you must have fewer than 50 new employees, earn less than $1 million in gross revenue, and be located in an eligible rural community. The USDA opens applications once per year, and you can apply through its state or local offices.

Corporate grants

Many large companies offer grants to small businesses and startups. For example, the Amazon Small Business Grant program offers grants to Amazon Business customers that make less than or equal to $1 million in annual gross revenue. These grants range from $15,000 to $25,000, and Amazon will award grants to 15 different recipients in 2023.

The FedEx® Small Business Grant Contest awards over $300,000 to 10 small businesses, with a $30,000 grand prize. To qualify, you must be a U.S. for-profit business with fewer than 99 employees that currently ships with FedEx.

To find additional corporate grants, start by searching for corporations in your area and finding out what they offer. Or you can search for grants based on your industry or demographics.

[Read more: How to Write a Grant Application for Your Organization]

Amber Grants

WomensNet offered multiple grants for women-owned businesses, including the Amber Grant. The grant was created to honor 19-year-old Amber Wigdahl, who died without ever realizing her dreams of becoming a business owner.

The Amber Grant is available monthly, and five finalists are selected. The winner receives a $10,000 grant, and four finalists receive $1,000 each. The monthly Amber Grant winner qualifies for the annual grant of $25,000.

Black Founder Startup Grants

The Black Founder Startup Grant provides grants for Black women and nonbinary Black startup founders. The program offers $5,000 and $10,000 grants, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

To qualify, you must:

  • Self-identify as a Black woman or Black nonbinary entrepreneur.
  • Have a legally registered business.
  • Have a scalable solution.
  • Plan to seek investor financing now or in the future.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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The FedEx® Small Business Grants Program is now open. See details and apply before April 1, 2024, at 12 p.m. CT.
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