Best small business grants for your business

17 Jan 2023
19 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

When you are running a business the cost can increase and add up quickly; from hiring new staff to securing inventory. This gradually increases the burden on aspiring business owners trying to grow and expand their businesses.

To make it worse, most startup businesses don’t have a strong network of financiers to help them overcome this burden. But luckily, there is another way for them to overcome this ever-increasing burden; small business grants. Small business grants provide your business with free money to help your business grow and survive during tough times.

However, not every grant is suitable for every business so you can’t just apply for every small business grant you come across. You also need to understand how each of the grants will evaluate its applicants, which is a crucial step in order to providing financial assistance to your business. The application will also take a lot of time, and effort but the payoff will be worth it. 

To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of grants and resources that will help you get the financial assistance that you need.

Federal small business grants

State Small Business Grants

Startup business grants

Federal small business grants

Federal grants are economic aid issued by the federal government and out of the general federal revenue. That is why it takes a lot of time and effort to get your application for a federal business grant to be approved. Also, the grants distributed by federal agencies are meant to help businesses grow instead of covering the start-up cost or operational costs of a business.


GRANTS.GOV is very helpful and informative. Especially if it’s your first time applying for a small business grant. On their website, they even provided a very detailed step-by-step application process and how you can track your grant application.


  • Government organisations
  • Education organisations
  • Public housing organisations
  • Non Profit organisations
  • For-Profit organisations

However, if you’re a non-local foreigner applicant, the authorising legislation will determine whether the applying organisation or individual may apply for the grant or not. Foreign applicants will have to go through the same registration process as domestic applicants but with additional steps.

You will also need a US tax return that requires a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) also referred to as Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, if the foreign applicant is awarded funding to perform activities outside of the United States, then it likely does not constitute U.S. source income and TIN/EIN won’t be necessary. Examples of such funding are scholarships, fellowship grants, targeted grants, and achievement rewards.


Suitable for all businesses as they have a variety of grants to apply for.

And if you are still unsure of eligibility for grant applications, you can click on the Learn and Check steps, you can learn more about the grant applications and eligibility in greater detail there. 

In addition, they also distribute quite a number of grants. So you can always go and check to see if there is a grant that can help your business to grow. 

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

This grant was established to help small businesses that are struggling and having trouble operating because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Businesses that are eligible for this are the ones in the performing arts industry. So if your business is in the industry you can consider applying for this grant to help your business stay afloat and continue its operations.

Eligibility: Struggling small businesses affected by the recent pandemic.

Business: Performing Arts Industry

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

This highly competitive program is established to encourage domestic small businesses to engage in  Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialisation. With this competitive award-based program, small businesses will be able to explore the technological potential of their business and take the incentive to profit from it.

So if you are running a small business and have interest in technology, then this program might be a good fit and opportunity for your business to grow. 


  1. Organised for profit, with a place of business located in the United States.
  2. More than 50% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States, or by other small business concerns that are each more than 50% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States.
  3. No more than 500 employees, including affiliates.

Business: Small businesses

Small Business Technology Transfer Programs

Small Business Technology Transfer Programs are a part of the Small Business Innovation Research program and share the same missions and objectives. 

Through this program, your business will be able to explore technological innovations and potentials that your business can tap into and utilise to make a profit while venturing your business into the technology territory. 

Should your application be successful, you will be awarded funds to support and grow your business. 


It shares the same eligibility criteria as SBIR.

  1. Organised for profit, with a place of business located in the United States.
  2. More than 50% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States, or by other small business concerns that are each more than 50% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States.
  3. No more than 500 employees, including affiliates.

Business: Small businesses

USDA Rural Business Development Grants

The grant objective is to help small businesses located within the rural parts of the US to grow by providing technical assistance and training. 

It is open to public entities including but not limited to: towns, communities, state agencies, authorities, nonprofit corporations, institutions of higher education, federally-recognized groups, and rural cooperatives.

This grant has no maximum funding amount, but if you apply for an amount that is smaller it will be easier to be approved. Besides being awarded funding, this program also will provide you with technical assistance to help with any issues and a training program that will help your business to grow. 


This grant is eligible for the rural public entities listed below. 

  • Towns.
  • Communities.
  • State agencies.
  • Authorities.
  • Nonprofit corporations.
  • Institutions of higher education.
  • Federally recognized tribes.
  • Rural cooperatives (if organised as a private nonprofit corporation).

Business: For small rural businesses.

Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME)

If you are a micro-entrepreneur and find yourself struggling in finding the opportunity to grow your business, this program will help you to find that opportunity. 

This program will provide funding, technical assistance, and training to help economically disadvantaged micro businesses to get back on their feet and find the opportunity to grow their business from the training and technical assistance they will be awarded with along the funding. 

However, you must not submit multiple applications, whether under a single name or different, should this happen, all of your applications will be rejected, including the one that is eligible for approval. 


  • A microenterprise development organisation or program (or group or Collaborative thereof), such as a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution
  • Similar entity, that has a demonstrated record of delivering microenterprise services to disadvantaged entrepreneurs; or • An Intermediary (as defined in Section 8.1) which has experience in delivering technical assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs
  • A microenterprise development organisation or program (as defined in Section 8.1) that is accountable to a local community, working in conjunction with a State or local government or Indian Tribe
  • An Indian tribe acting on its own, if it can certify that no private organisation or program referred to above exists within its jurisdiction.

If you are amongst the following group, you are not eligible to apply for this grant:

  • Any individual person
  • Any for-profit entity
  •  Any organisation that owes an outstanding and unresolved financial obligation to the federal government
  •  Any organisation that is currently suspended, debarred or otherwise prohibited from receiving awards of contracts or grants from the federal government
  • Any organisation with an outstanding and unresolved material deficiency reported under the requirements of the Single Audit Act or OMB Circular A-133 within the past two years
  •  Any organisation that has had a PRIME grant or Grant involuntarily terminated or non-renewed by SBA for cause within the past year
  •  Any organisation that has filed for bankruptcy within the past five years
  • Any organisation that proposes to serve as a pass-through and permit another organisation to manage the day-to-day operations of the project
  • Any organisation that was convicted, or had an officer or agent acting on its behalf convicted, of a felony criminal violation under any Federal law within the past two years


Disadvantaged micro businesses

For more details regarding this grant program, you may visit their website. We have included the link. 

State Small Business Grants

Federal small business grants often come with some limitations, be it by industry or by number. That’s where state or municipal level programs come in to provide wider opportunities to those who sought after other opportunities that are not as competitive.

Economic Development Administration (EDA)

EDA provides a lot of funding opportunities that are not too competitive. This means your application will have a better chance of being approved and awarded with the funds you applied for. 

The most recent and newest program is the FY 2022 CARES Act Economic Recovery Corps and Equity Impact Investments Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). NOFO funds aim to help and provide support to underserved communities across the US which in turn will develop successful economic plans and projects.


  • State governments
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Others (see text field entitled “Additional Information on Eligibility” for clarification)
  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education

Business: For all business and commerce entities. Including underserved communities. 

The State Business Incentives Database

If you are completely clueless about where to look and apply for grants for your business, then you can check out The State Business Incentives Database. There are over hundreds of gran programs across 50 states.

Can check each of them in detail to help you prepare for their application requirements and to increase your chances of being awarded the grant funding.

This is more like a database where you search and look for grants that match your business situation and needs. It is not a direct agency like the rest on this list. You can register, then log in to begin your search and study each grant eligibility criteria and see if it aligns with your business type and industry.

Small Business Development Centers (SBCDs)

Small Business Development Centers (SBCDs) provide training and counselling to small businesses including working with SBCDs to develop and provide information tools to support start-ups and existing business expansion. 

SBDCs will provide capital, advising, and technical assistance to existing small businesses and pre-venture entrepreneurs so that they increase their productivity and further develop their business expansion plans. 

Eligibility:  Open to all local public entities

Business: For start-up businesses and pre-existing businesses looking to expand. 

State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) provides financial awards to state and territory governments to assist small businesses with export development. 

This program’s main aim is to help small businesses to find customers and break into the international market. STEP will help small businesses overcome the export burden by providing grants to cover the costs associated with exporting and breaking into the international market. 

The six main aims of the STEP program are: 

    • Learn to export
    • Participate in foreign trade missions
    • Design international marketing products and campaigns
    • Support website globalisation and e-commerce capabilities
    • Pay for subscriptions to services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce and other federal agencies
    • Participate in export trade show exhibits and training workshops

Eligibility: Open to all state and government entities within the US


For small businesses and start-ups that are interested in expanding their business into the international market.

Minority Business Development Agency Centers (MBDA)

This program focuses on helping minority-owned firms and businesses to penetrate both domestic and international markets, and also help them grow their business size and scale by providing access to experts and funding at an MBDA Business Center. 

On their website, they have provided a list of available grants for eligible entities to apply for. 

Eligibility: Minority communities

Business: All minority-owned firms and businesses. 

Startup business grants

There are actually many of us who have great ideas for a business floating around in our heads. But we’re lacking the funds to realise those ideas we have been having for so long. Fear not as there is an abundance of startup grants for small businesses offered by the state government, as well as private companies.

4.0 essentials fellowship program

This 4-month virtual program was established with one aim; to help those aspiring entrepreneurs start up and realise their business idea by going through the course they have prepared.

It is designed to assist early-stage business ideas and entrepreneurs. By the end of this course, you will be awarded 300$  to help start and run your own small pop-up business. So if you are still in the early stage and looking for an opportunity to realise your business idea from a small-scale business, then this program will be able to help you. 

Eligibility: Open to all public entities that yet have to start and establish their own business

Business: Suitable for all businesses that allow you to start from a small scale.

Visa Everywhere Initiative

If you are a young and aspiring fintech entrepreneur, this program is for you. Visa Everywhere Initiative is a program to help young and aspiring start-ups to get global exposure and lets you demonstrate your ground-breaking solutions to the world.

Should your application and demonstration be successful, you will be awarded funding to further develop the solutions you demonstrated. Not only that, but you will also have access to a network of startups where you will promote your solution or gain connections. 


Open to all aspiring entrepreneurs from a few regions around the world: 

  • North America
  • Europe
  • the Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
  • CEMEA [Central Europe, Middle East, Africa] – For this region’s five finalists, one spot is reserved for an Egyptian startup and one spot is reserved for a Saudi Arabian startup.

Business: Technology, Fintech

WomensNet Amber Grant

WomentsNet Amber Grant was founded and established in 1981 with one goal; to honour the memory of a very special young woman, Amber Wigdahl, who passed away at the young age of 19 before realising her business. 

In conjunction with that, this grant awards 30,000$ every month to businesses owned and led by women across the country. They also have expanded the list of available grants on their website. You can check the details there. 

Eligibility: All female entrepreneurs in the United States

Business: Suitable for all businesses owned and operated by women. From law firms to bakeries, these grants are open to all businesses run by women.

NASE Growth Grants

NASE was founded in 1981 to provide day-to-day support such as direct access to experts, benefits, and consolidated buying power which traditionally had been available only to corporations. 

And now NASE represents hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and micro-businesses and is the largest non-profit organisation in the United States. 

So if you are an entrepreneur running a micro-business, then you might want to consider registering for NASE and gain access to their support so that your micro-business can grow and expand. 


In order to be eligible for NASE support, you must be a member in good standing:

The following members apply immediately:

  • Annual Members
  • Veteran Members
  • Silver Members (Paying Annually)
  • Gold Members

The following members may apply after 90 days of their membership from the date they joined:

  • Monthly Members
  • Silver Members (Paying Monthly)

Business: Open to all small and micro businesses 

Patagonia Corporate Grant program

This program is aimed to support environmental businesses that study the root causes of problems and are committed to creating long-term solutions for the said root cause. Hence, they are often on the lookout for innovative groups or individuals whose work has clear objectives, goals, plans of action, and measures for evaluating success.

So if your business includes preserving the environment and providing action-oriented solutions, then this grant can help you to further grow your business agenda in preserving the environment. 


This grant program is only available if you are a resident of one of the countries in the list below: 

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Business: For environmentally conscious and oriented businesses.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest   

This grant content by FedEx was started in 2012. Since then it has awarded more $1.5 million dollars to small businesses so that they can grow their businesses or continue to operate.

So if you are running a small business and looking for the opportunity to further enhance and expand your business, then you may want to consider joining this grant contest by FedEx so that you can receive the fund award. 

Eligibility: Open to for-profit businesses that have FedEx Shipping accounts and are not available to nonprofit businesses.

Business: All small businesses are welcome to join.

Alternatives to grants for small business

However, having a grant may still not be enough to kickstart, expand or help your business to operate. But worry not, there are a few alternatives that you can consider using to help your business. 


 Can help cover the cost of developing a new product or opening a new storefront by raising money from your community. There are a number of crowdfunding programs available nowadays, one such program is the widely known Kickstarter. 

Roll Over for Business Startups (ROBs)

Allows entrepreneurs to take advantage of a tax loophole and tap into their retirement savings to cover startup costs. But bear in mind this also means you will be creating a debt that you have to pay. 

Business loans

Finance growth costs after you’ve established your new business — and it can be difficult to qualify for a low rate in the first few years. So remember to pay your loan debt on time to avoid debt accumulation and penalties. 

Personal loans

Are based on your personal finances and can cover those first few months of expenses. Usually, you need excellent credit and another source of income to qualify. Despite helping you to cover expenses, personal also can be a slippery slope. So be sure to calculate your budget and only spend on what your business needs. 

Small-business credit cards

Suitable for funding your everyday business purchases — and earn rewards in the process.

How to successfully get a small business grant?

Look for grants within your industry

The first thing you need to figure out is to see if the grant or grants that you want to apply for fall in the same industry as your business. If not, then it is likely to get approved and can benefit your business. 

Read the eligibility requirements carefully

Be sure to read and understand the eligibility requirements for the grants that you are applying for. Else you will be wasting your time and efforts if it turns out that you and your business are not eligible for the grants you are applying for. 

Make sure your business aligns with the organisation’s mission

This is to ensure that the grant you have won won’t be retracted due to conflicting goals. Most agencies that distribute grants want their grantee’s goals and objectives to align with theirs. If not, your application might be rejected or have a low chance of being approved.

Know what you’ll be spending the grant money on

Should you win and be awarded funds, make sure you do not forget about the terms and conditions of the fund expenditure. Some agencies have strict rules about that and you should only spend on the items specified in their grant program. Should you spend on other than what is specified you may incur penalties and may have your application rejected.

Focus your pitch on innovation and expansion

When applying for a grant, you will have to make a case for why they should award you with the funds that they are giving out. So make sure to pitch your idea clearly and convince them your ideas are innovative and can help expand not only your business but the industry itself. 

Hopefully, this article provides you insight into grants and how to apply for them, and how they can help your business. 

But before we wrap this up, we want to share with you one final tip that will help you and your business once you’ve been awarded grant funding. 

Should you need to make cross-border payments for your business, be sure to check out Instarem. With competitive FX rates, low fees and easy to use platform, you are able to send money quickly, securely and conveniently.

*Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.

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