Year round free grants, low cost loans, or financial assistance for MWBE and veteran businesses

Many of the grants, loans, coaching programs, etc. are offered year round.  Find details below by county, city, or category. Or scroll down the page to find more financial assistance programs for MWBE, LGTBQ or veteran owned businesses that are offered by month.

Statewide North Carolina Minority, Women, Veteran, Immigrant assistance programs

Black entrepreneurship is being promoted by NC IDEA. At most, up to $50,000 is being offered. The funds are for black women and men, and IDEA will also give them advice, mentoring, as well as coaching services. Work with successful companies as well as businesses throughout the state can help Black startups get the support they need. Read more and apply.

Carolina Small Business Development Fund is a CDFI non-profit Community Lender. Apply for low-cost or interest free loans, business development services, counseling, and training workshops. A major focus is on access to capital for women, minority, and businesses in low-income parts of NC, and there is also a “Minority Business Certification” program. Continue reading.

National Institute of Minority Economic Development has offices in Charlotte, Durham, and other parts of NC. They help minorities, women, and other disadvantaged people with a variety of assistance programs, ranging from business development to education as well as a Center for Entrepreneurship.  MWBE companies can learn about grants, get help setting up or starting a business and more.  Learn more here

NC Rural Center provides support in rural pars of the state only. They are a statewide non-profit though, and cover from the Outer banks to the mountains as well as rural farming regions. They partner with the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), offer loans, Capital Investments and other financial resources. Or learn about mentoring, programs for minority farmers in NC and other services. Learn more here.

Asheville and western NC free loan, grant, and business counseling services

Asheville MWBE businesses can get assistance from the Business Inclusion Office. They offer training, a program known as Pathways to Growth, updated information on government or local non-profit grant programs as well as loans in the city, and so much more. The goal is to help women and minority owned business grow, hire, and add to the city’s economic development. Learn more.

Black Wall Street Asheville (BVL) is a community centers that provides networking, sales and marketing help from online listings, and help finding (and applying for) free government grants or loans from the community. Black women or male owned businesses in Asheville and western NC can get assistance from the non-profit. Find details here.

Buncombe County businesses can turn to Mountain BizWorks. They help small companies and would be Entrepreneurs. There are many classes such as Alpine and Scale Up. There is also information on microloans for businesses (including women and minority), referrals to free government grant programs, mentoring from local Asheville business owners as well as volunteers, and other business resources offered. Continue here.

Charlotte regional (and surrounding county) loans and grants for MWBE businesses

Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and 12 other surrounding counties in the Charlotte MSA can turn to the Institute’s Women’s Business Center. A wide variety of assistance programs are offered.  Women, including Black women, can learn about free grants for their small business  as well as get coaching, counseling, and other services.  There are also networking events, information on getting MWBE certifications, coaching services, information on loans from local banks and more. Find details here.

Charlotte Aspire Community Capital helps underserved businesses owners and those in low income parts of the city. Veterans, Black and Latino owned, disabled and women (among others) can get help. They assist with raising capital, including from grant or loan programs. There are also business coaching programs, a business accelerator program, a multiple weeks business academy that helps people learn about, and launch, a company and other free services. Continue reading.

Charlotte’s Black Chamber of Commerce is a resource for Black owned businesses as well as entrepreneur . They can provide advice, referrals to free government grants, and will (from time to time) offer their own microloans. They also partner with corporations and non-profits in the city of Charlotte as well as Mecklenburg County. Find out about their services here.

Charlotte area Latin-owned businesses can get assistance, including (but not limited too) financial from Prospera. The agency partners with the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte (LACCC), Bank of America Duke Energy, Kiva, and other companies on their programs. There is business development help, information on loan or free grant programs, marketing or IT assistance and so much more. Continue reading here.

City Startup Labs of Charlotte helps minority, Black male and woman owned companies, and also formerly incarcerated people start of grow a business. They help would be entrepreneurs create a business plan, test the idea, and launch the product/service. There is information on grant programs, loans from local and national lenders, counseling, and also the ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program (REEP). Read more on and get help from the startup lab.

Foundation for the Carolina has a number of grant programs in the Charlotte NC area. There are funds for non-profits, small minority owned businesses and other companies.  They coordinate grant programs, scholarship services for minorities, Foundations and much more.  Look here for details.

Grameen America is working with the City of Charlotte to help women owned businesses and entrepreneurs get the funds they need. Grameen is a microlender that operates all throughout the US, but the city of Charlotte is a partner. There may be low cost or interest free microloans to Black women, Latina, immigrant and Asian female owned businesses. The goal of the non-profit is to help women on the path to growing a sustainable business. The City of Charlotte is a partner that disburses funds and operates a Small Business Center for Grameen. Learn more here.

Mecklenburg County Office of Economic Development helps small businesses. There are some programs that focus on minorities, LGTBQ+, women and minorities as well. The programs include Business LaunchPad, which is a multi-month free small businesses workshop. Coaching, mentoring, business development resource, grant and more.  A separate assistance program is known as Get Up and Grow, and this helps businesses with under 125,000 in sales get funds, business development tools and more. Apply here.

Salisbury-Rowan NAACP and Self-Help Credit Union are partnering with KIVA, the national lender, to offer financial assistance to women and minority owned companies. Microloans are offered in the range of $1000 to $15,000.  The loans are interest free. The main goal is to help the minority owned business use credit, and all funds for KIVA and Self-Help come from donations from people or businesses across the world.  Apply here.

Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, Asheboro and Mount Airy region

Asheboro and Randolph County Black business owners (or entrepreneurs) can get help from an accelerator program. The program is known as VentureAsheboro, and the program is run by Midstate Rotary as well as Randolph Community College. There are workshops, classes, information on applying for free grants or loans for businesses with bad credit, mentorship and more. Various services will help Black woman and male owned businesses and start ups. Read more

Black Philanthropy Initiative is a foundation that works to strengthen the Black community in Forsyth County NC. They do have grants, but the funds are focused on non-profits and organizations that help the Black community around education, economic prosperity or inclusion and similar organizations. Find details on the Foundation here.

Greater Winston-Salem Minority Business Enterprise program has annual, $25,000 grants for both Black and Latinx-owned businesses in Forsyth County. A major priority is on providing financial help to businesses that are hiring and/or expanding in the community. The funds are for small businesses (with under $1 million in revenue) as well as other criteria. Apply here.

Greensboro Community Development Fund (GCDF) helps the community. They partner with charities such as Kiva to provide 0% APR loans, offer counseling, and more. The underserved community, including business owners who have bad or no credit, can look into loan and capital programs. The non-profit assists disadvantaged MWBE, veteran, and LGTBQ businesses. More information here.

Greensboro and Triad businesses can turn to the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship. They help Women, Minority, Immigrant and Veterans owned companies. The center is a non-profit.  A wide range of free services are offered, everything from website development to business planning classes or workshops, information on local and national grant programs for funding, start up workshops, and more. Continue.

High Point small businesses, including BIPOC, veteran and LGTBQ, can get financial assistance, grants, counseling and more from Thrive High Point.  It is a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce. There are microloans, start up classes, a MWBE accelerator programs and many other services. Learn more here.

Winston-Salem Foundation and the Black Chamber of Commerce provides help to BIPOC business. Free grants, loans, funds, counseling and other supporit is provided. There is mentoring, information on government certifications, Black Founder Startup grants and other support.

Women’s Business Center of Greensboro helps minority and women owned small businesses as well as entrepreneurs. A number of assistance programs are offered, including help raising capital (grants or loans), free coaching and networking and more. There is coaching, certification, networking and other help given. Get details here.

Women’s Business Center at Winston-Salem focuses on minority and women-owned businesses. This is a SBA funded program. Staff help people apply for financial help from loans, certification programs, free coaching, networking and more. A wide range of assistance programs, counseling, and other support is given to small to mid-sized businesses that need help. Read about the center here.

Raleigh regional free business grants, interest free loans and other small business help

Chapel Hill and Carrboro Black owned businesses can get advice, support, information on financial aid and more from an Alliance in the region that is part of the Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro. The organization is known as Black Business Alliance Leadership Council. There are free grants for black women as well as male owned businesses. Learn more here.

Fayetteville Center for Economic Empowerment and Development has a Women’s Business Center, which focuses on women owned businesses and other disadvantaged companies, such as minority, veteran, and LGTBQ+. There are microloans, networking as well as free mentorship, technical help and other support. Learn about loans and other CEED programs here.

Orange County minority business development is provided by Brightpath Solutions. The program is part of the non-profit EMPOWERment, based in the Chapel Hill NC region. Get free advice, one on one mentoring, information on grant or loans programs and other support from BrightPath. Read more here.

Raleigh area businesses (as well as anyone who wants to start one) can look into the Wake Tech accelerator program. The school can direct clients to capital raising programs, including non-profits or government backed loans, charitable grants and more. There are free workshops, free business counseling, information on certifying as a MWBE or veteran owned business, and many other forms of assistance in Wake County. Find details here.

Rocky Mount and Eastern NC small businesses and startups can apply for 0% interest Kiva loans at the Small Business Center at Nash Community College. They are a Trustee for the worldwide non-profit.  In addition to access to capital, there is book keeping help, assistance with setting up a business, free marketing help, a business resource center and other services. Read on the center here.

The Triangle Area around Wake, Durham and 14 other counties is covered by Carolina Community Impact, often called CCI. They offer interest free loans from Kiva, help with grant applications and credit counseling, and offer other lending products. Up to $100,000 can be borrowed, much of it interest free. A major focus is on MWBE, veteran, and LGTBQ disadvantaged businesses. The financial aid is for the counties of Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Lee, Harnett, Johnston, Nash, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake, Warren and Wilson. Apply here.

Women Business Center of Fayetteville offers many free business assistance programs, including to veterans, Black or Latina owned businesses, the low income and others. They often have free grant applications from companies or the government, workshops, credit building programs for entrepreneurs and more. Learn about the non-profit here.

Southeastern NC – Wilmington region BIPOC and MWBE grants, loans, and financial aid

Businesses in the southeastern part of the state, including the Sandhills, Lumberton and New Hanover County, can get assistance from the UNC-Pembroke Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub. This is startup help, an incubator, and many other resources for MWBE, Native American as well as veteran owned businesses.  Or learn about free government grants, bank financing, and other ways to raise capital. Find details on the hub here.

Channel is a business center in Wilmington for minority entrepreneurs, including women. The all inclusive location is a partnership or Live Oak Bank, Genesis Block, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, non-profits, and other local companies. Get information on local grants, access to mentoring, business plan development services and more from the Channel Center. Learn more here.

Wilmington NC minority businesses can turn to Genesis Block. The non-profit helps entrepreneurs as well as existing small, black or Latino owned businesses start or grow. On occasion, they do have free grants, low cost loans, and other financial help. The non-profit also offers an entrepreneurship center, small business accelerator programs as well as other assistance. Apply here.

Wilmington businesses can also turn to The Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington, also known as NEW. Business owners and those seeking to start one can get free mentoring or networking. There is marketing help, advice on applying for low cost or interest free loans, website development and much more. Learn about NEW here.

By Jon McNamara