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How to Get Government Grants for a Small Business

how do i get a grant to start a business

QUESTION ON How to Get Government Grants for a Small Business

I want to start a small business, but I have no money. I have been hearing about government giving money through grants. How can I get grant money to start a business? Are there resources on the Web where I can get this information for free? I tried to search for grant money on the Web and I all see are websites that want me to pay to get the information that I need. Thanks

– Shirley, New Jersey

Advice by Isabel M. Isidro

Dear Shirley,

Thank you for visiting

It is hard to find grants to start a business. Unlike the myths that some perpetuate, federal government and even private foundations hardly give grant money for a for-profit business. And yes, grants mean PAPERWORK – lots and lots of it, that is why a cottage industry of grant writers was born.

Nonetheless, you can go to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) and – these are two sites created by the federal government to provide transparency and information on grants. Browse through the listings and see if you can find any grant that would support a for-profit venture.

Even if you buy books on “how to get grants” or list that supposedly has information on grants — all of them are mere rehash of what CFDA has, albeit packaged differently. But still the info is the same – hardly any grants for starting a for profit business.

Even SBA does NOT give out grants. From the SBA website

SBA does NOT provide grants for starting and expanding a business.

Government grants are funded by your tax dollars and, therefore, require very stringent compliance and reporting measures to ensure the

money is well spent. As you can imagine, grants are not given away indiscriminately.

Some business grants are available through state and local programs, nonprofit organizations and other groups. For example, some states provide grants for expanding child care centers; creating energy efficient technology; and developing marketing campaigns for tourism. These grants are not necessarily free money, and usually require the recipient to match funds or combine the grant with other forms of financing such as a loan. The amount of the grant money available varies with each business and each grantor.

Most of the federal grants are given to specific target groups with specific requirements (e.g. minority business owners involved in transportation related contracts emanating from DOT – Grant#20.905 Disadvantaged Business Enterprises Short Term Lending Program

Grants are also often given to non profit groups or organizations involved in training or other similar activities (grant 59.043 Women’s Business Ownership Assistance that are given to those who will create women’s business center that will train women entrepreneurs

For private grants, you may want to check the Foundation Center’s Foundation Grants for Individuals Online. It’s a subscription based website ($9.95 per month) but their opening blurb only says that the database is ideal for “students, artists, academic researchers, libraries and financial aid offices.” Entrepreneurs are apparently not one of them, so I take it they also don’t have listings of private foundations who give grants to would-be entrepreneurs.

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Category: Personal Finance

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