Minorities, including Black, Latinos, and Asians, as well as women owned small business in Connecticut can get financial aid. Find loans from a variety of lenders near you, free grants from the state or federal government (and charities) as well as other funds in Connecticut. Find help near you below, including from charities, banks, corporations, the government and other sources.
Small businesses in Connecticut as well as startups can get assistance, both financial and free consultations. Each and every program is allocated some of the funds to disadvantaged businesses, including minorities, LGBTQ, the disabled, veterans, and female owned businesses. They can get either grants or loans to use to pay for inventory, rent, marketing costs, and other business operating costs. In almost all cases the loans and grants come with ongoing support.
Much of the assistance is for the major cities in Connecticut, including Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and the Fairfield County area. However financial aid, including grants, can be offered to small to mid-sized businesses across the state with priority on MWBE, veteran, and people of color (BIPOC).
Women or minority businesses loans and free grants in Connecticut
The list of resources below is updated daily with the latest resources. Latino, Asian, Black, minority and women owned businesses can find the help they need in Connecticut. Financial resources, capital raising programs and support is available across the state.
Year round programs for grants, loans, and free business coaching
Black Business Alliance, or BBA, helps Black women and male owned businesses as well as entrepreneurs in CT. They offer a number of free services. They work to help Black owned businesses get the capital they need (grants, loans, equity, etc.) as well as other support. There is technical assistance, referrals to a Funding Superhighway, marketing and legal advice, training and so much more. Learn more about the BBA non-profit here. https://www.bbusinessalliance.org/
Meridien area Community Economic Development Fund is a CDFI lender. They help small businesses owners that are based in low-income area, that lack access to credit or have bad credit scores and face other barriers. Many clients are minorities, veterans, and women. A combination of grant programs, low cost or interest free loans, business development programs, referrals to legal support and more is offered. Continue reading about the Meridien CDFI here. https://www.cedf.com/
Microloans for women are available from Grameen America. The non-profit provides assistance to female entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses. The funds help Latina, Black women, immigrants and women of all races and ages. Grameen America provides the loans to women business owners who have a low income, live in poverty, or have bad credit. Microloans are combined with tutoring, advice, counseling and other services. Learn more on the CT microloan program here. https://www.grameenamerica.org/blog/2021/11/17/grameen-america-launches-25th-location-through-a-branch-network-in-connecticut-to-support-low-income-minority-businesswomen
New Haven area businesses, that focus on social causes, can turn to Net Impact Yale Undergraduate. The organization serves as a Kiva Trustee, and can help small MWBE, disabled, or LGBTQ businesses get interest free microloans. Several other business coaching and assistance programs are offered as well. Read more on the agency here. http://www.yalenetimpact.com/
Norwalk Connecticut small businesses can receive interest free loans of up to $15,000 from a partnership of government and non-profit agencies. The Common Council’s, National League of Cities, and Kiva are partnering together on this financial assistance program. The funds in particular will help disadvantaged businesses, including those owned by people of color, immigrants, and women among others. Learn more here. https://www.norwalkct.org/286/Common-Council
City of Norwalk Economic Development provides a number of small businesses services, with a focus on disadvantaged businesses such as those owned by Black women or men, veterans, LGTBQ+, woman, Hispanics and others. They arrange low cost or interest free loans (with Kiva), free coaching services (with SCORE), consulting, mentoring and so much more. The agency tries to help businesses, including BIPOC, start, grow and be successful. Learn more here. https://www.norwalkct.org/1490/Economic-and-Community-Development
Spanish American Merchants Association, or SAMA, is a non-profit that serves all Hispanic and Latino communities across the state. Everything from job placement to training, small business startup work shops, revolving loans for entpreuners, free coaching and more is offered. Assistance is also offered at the Empresario Development Center. Continue reading on SAMA here. https://samact.org/
Stanford Rotary Trust Fund provides grants to non-profits. Anywhere from several hundred to several thousand (or more) is issued. The funds are for non-profits that focus on improving education, infrastructure, income inequality, non-profits that help small businesses and others. The main goal of the free grant program in Stanford is to help non-profits that “help” the community. Learn more here. https://stamfordrotarytrustfund.org/grants/
Women’s Business Development Council in Stamford Connecticut is offering grants ranging from $2500 to $10,000 to women owned as well as minority owned business. The assistance is available statewide. Note the business owner also needs to match funds too. The business needs to have been operating for at least one year, have existing banking relationships, and have an approved plan for the money. The address is 184 Bedford St Ste 201, Stamford, CT 06901. Or dial (203) 353-1750 to learn about the Equity Match Grant Program. In addition to grants, there is sales help, marketing assistance, networking opportunities and other support. Apply or learn more here. https://ctwbdc.org/
February and March 2023
The CT Boost Fund is available statewide, with a focus on helping small businesses. Millions of dollars are available, including money for minority, women and businesses owned by veterans or LGTBQ+ companies. Up to $500,000 can be provided (either as a 0% loan or free grant) to qualified businesses, including non-profits. The Boost program gives other support too, including technical training, networking help, inventory management, and more. Find details here. https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Business-Development/05_Funding_Opportunities/Connecticut-Small-Business-Boost-Fund
Meriden CT businesses, that have a physical location/storefront or that will be opening a location in the city can get grant money from The Meriden Business Investment and Growth program. The money, which is the result of American Rescue Plan Acts, needs to be used to repair, improve, or enhance the property. A major focus is on supporting Women and Minority owned companies. Learn more here. https://www.medco.biz/arpa/
The City of Norwalk has dozens of grants for micro-businesses up to very small ones. The $5,000 to $15,000 grants are for businesses that have anywhere from 2 to 20 employees. Some funds will be allocated to minority and women owned businesses using a lottery system. The free government grants are using stimulus funds from the COVID relief package, and learn more here. https://www.norwalkct.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2342
Women’s Business Development Council is providing free business grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Applicants need to be at least 50% women owned and be operating for at least 2 years. The non-profit WBDC has other criteria in place as well for women businesses in CT. In addition, the applicant needs to also have some form of crowdfunding or matching grant too. Apply here. https://ctwbdc.org/equity-match-grant-program/
November and December 2022
New London CT small businesses can apply for grants ranging from $2500 to $10,000. The city as well as the Women’s Business Development Council in New London are processing applications to the program. The funds are for any qualified small businesses, not just women owned. This means veterans, BIPOC, and other companies can apply. Read more on the program here. https://ctwbdc.org/new-london-wbdc-small-business-grant-program/
Child care businesses in CT can get grant money from the WBDC Child Care Business Support Program and Opportunity Fund. The funds are a partnership between the CT Office of Early Childhood (OEC) as well as the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC). There is also other support given, including entrepreneurial education to women (or anyone) who is looking to start a daycare program. All applications are due in October. Read more on the child care grants and apply here. https://ctwbdc.org/child-care-business-grants/
Woman, minority and veteran owned-businesses in New Haven can apply for a free ~3 month business accelerator program that is run by Quinnipiac University in partnership with Connecticut Community Outreach Revitalization Program. The college is helping disadvantaged businesses with any support they need. There will be help with creating a business plan; information on raising money from loans, grants, or debt; online e-commerce assistance; marketing or advertising services and more. To apply or learn more, email QUEntrepreneurshipAcademy@qu.edu.
Connecticut Small Business Boost Fund provides loans and other support to small businesses in low-income parts of the state and underserved regions. Many of the loans will in effect go to minority or women owned companies. The financial assistance is a private/public partnership between the state, M&T Bank, Citizens Bank and others. Find how to get loans here. https://ctsmallbusinessboostfund.org/
July and August 2022
West Hartford Small Businesses, as well as non-profits, can apply for free $10,000 grants from the town. The funds are intended to help for profit or non-profits recover from the COVID pandemic. Get financial assistance for payroll, rent, inventory, online website operations and more. Some of the grant money from the Small Business and Non-Profit Recovery Grant program will be allocated to businesses owned by people of color (BIPOC), veteran, women, and LGTBQ+ business owners. In addition, the town offers free business coaching as part of Economic Development. Learn more here. https://www.westhartfordct.gov/town-departments/economic-development/~board/economic-development/post/recovery-grant-program-offers-assistance-to-eligible-small-businesses-and-non-profit-organizations-1656648741311
June and July 2022
The town of Mansfield is providing free grants ranging from $2500 to $10,000. The financial assistance is part of the Local Business Relief Fund Program, and there will be priority for women and minority owned businesses. The program is being run in partnership of the town as well as the non-profit Mansfield Downtown Partnership. Grants are for smaller sized businesses with less than 25 employees. The free grants can help pay rent, utility bills, salaries, operational costs and more. More details here. https://www.mansfieldmdp.org/
February and March 2022
Somers County Connecticut is providing free grants (up to $10,000) to small, minority owned businesses. The county is using American Rescue Funds to help businesses that have been impacted by COVID. Small for-profit businesses (as well as non-profit organizations) with under 25 employees can apply. Learn more. https://www.somersct.gov/grant-application/
January and February 2022
WBDC is offering up to $10,000 grants to women owned businesses in Connecticut. Applicants need to also fund raise a portion of the grant too – as much as 25%. This helps ensure the applicant is committed to the endeavor. The assistance program is known as an “Equity Match Grant Program“. Money is targeted at projects that will help a company grow, increase revenue, and certain projects. Applicants must be women owned and have been operating at least 2 years (among other criteria). Learn more. https://ctwbdc.org/equity-match-grant-program/
November and December 2021
The Windsor ARPA Grant Program will provide free $10,000 using money from the federal government American Rescue Plan. The funds will go to help small businesses recover from COVID. A priority is on MWBE as well as veteran owned businesses that operate service industries, such as food service places, retail stores, or resturants. Apply here and learn more information. https://townofwindsorct.com/economic-development/
Hartford businesses can apply for free grants from the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. In total, just under $1 million dollars will be provided, with the majority of the funds to LGBTQ, minority, and women owned companies. The financial aid is offered from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Capital for Change, and local corporations. There is also counseling, coaching, and other free advice given. The program is known as Capital for Change. Read more. https://www.capitalforchange.org/
November and December 2020
All across the state, the Department of Economic and Community Development is distributing up to $50 million dollars to small businesses from the Connecticut CARES Small Business Grant Program. The funds are for companies impacted by COVID, with free government grants also being reserved for women, black, Latino, and veteran owned businesses. The funds can pay for e-commerce operations, websites, and other material needs. The applying business needs to have had their revenue drop by at least 20% due to COVID. The grants can also help home based businesses, sole-proprietors, and others. Apply here. https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-Business-Recovery/CT-CARES-Small-Business-Grant-Program
By Jon McNamara