Minority, veteran, female and disadvantages business owners (or entrepreneurs) in Kentucky can get financial assistance. Free grants, business coaching services, technical help and low cost or interest free loans (among other programs) are available. The resources help Black, disabled, Latino, women, veteran and other disadvantaged business owners start or grow a company. Find places to apply at near you below as well as programs offered in Kentucky.
There are grants from the state of Kentucky, corporations, charities, and the federal government among other places. Banks, non-profits, and other lenders may provide loans. Regardless of the source, the goal is to encourage minorities and women to start or a grow a business. The financial support for MWBE, veterans, or BIPOC businesses (Black and Indigenous people of color) also often comes assistance around free mentoring, legal help, coaching, website development and more.
While most the loans and grants are offered in the major cities on Lexington, Louisville and the surrounding area, small to mid-sized business across the state can apply. Priority is given to Latino, Black, Veteran, women, and other disadvantaged businesses, but any resident can apply for financial help.
List of female or minority businesses loans and free grants in Kentucky
The list of free grants, financial assistance programs, loans, and small business services below is updated daily. All startup companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs in Kentucky can apply, regardless of gender or ethnicity. However each program and agency is allocated funds to women, the disabled, minorities including Black owned companies and the disadvantaged.
Year round free financial assistance programs, grants, business coaching and more in Kentucky
Many KY grant, loan, and free small business assistance programs operate all year. Find help below by “category”, including by region, city, and county in Kentucky. Or continue to scroll down the page for the latest MWBE and veteran business grants and loans by month.
MWBE financial assistance programs available across the entire state
Access Ventures is based in Louisville, and they invest in minority, LGBTQ, women, and disadvantaged businesses that are “locked” out of mainstream lending programs. Those businesses that can’t get a bank loan or financing may benefit from Access Ventures. Learn more here. https://accessventures.org/
African American Chamber of Commerce has many assistance programs for the Northern Kentucky area. They have resources such as “Business Basics”, bi-weekly business accelerator classes, and information on how Black-owned businesses can raise money, including loans, government grants and more. All of the services are free, and read more here. https://www.african-americanchamber.com/
Louisville area free government grant, coaching/mentoring and loan programs
Jefferson County and Louisville small businesses can get very low interest loans (or information on free grants) from the Metropolitan Business Development Corporation (METCO). The money can be used for working capital, to pay for rent and utilities, inventory, and more. Program participants, especially minority and women owned companies, can also use business accelerator programs in the county. Midi and Business Accelerator Loans, Gap Financing and more. Find details here. https://louisvilleky.gov/government/louisville-forward/local-loan-programs
Kentucky Small Business Development Center has a range of assistance programs, including grants, loans and training. The government office is for businesses, including minority owned, in Christian, Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Todd, Union and Webster County. Find details here. https://kentuckysbdc.com/
Louisville Central Community Center offers many business assistance programs to minorities, including the METCO loan for Muslim small business owners or startups. There are other economic development programs, loans, grants and more from the non-profit. Learn more here. https://www.lcccnews.org/
Louisville Power to Prosper Minority Business Accelerator has a number of assistance programs for Louisville KY area businesses. The program is funded by the city, government grants, and Interise. Get financial help, strategic planning, assistance with marketing sales, free grant money and more. The GLI’s Power to Prosper Minority Business Accelerator is ongoing, and read more here. https://www.greaterlouisville.com/mba/
The Louisville Urban League and a non-profit known as the A Path Forward have launched the Center for Entrepreneurship. The goal is to help increase minority business ownership in Louisville as well as Jefferson County. There is financial coaching programs, legal aid, marketing help, and of course applications too (and information on) free government grants and/or low cost loans. Other partners of the center include AMPED’s Russell Technology Business Incubator, MELANnaire Marketplace, Buy Black Lou and the Louisville Small Business Development Center among others. Learn about the center here. https://lul.org/blackbusiness/
Louisville businesses can also try Seed Capital Kentucky for financing, including information on 0%, interest free loans from Kiva. They help farmers; small minority, women, and veteran owned businesses; assist restaurants and grocery stores as well as other “food focused” businesses. There is business development help, accounting, legal services, and other support too. But as far as financial help, the Kiva Zip Loan program can assist. Learn more. https://www.seedcapitalky.org/
The Plan Room is an accelerator for Black and minority owned construction businesses and start-ups in Louisville KY. The assistance programs is run in partnership with OneWest, the CDFI lender. Get financial help, training, workshops, free mentorship and other services, including capital. Get details here. https://theplanroom.org/
Northern KY grant and mentoring programs for women, minority, and veteran owned businesses
Covington Businesses can get year round help from Innovation Alley. It is a partnership of The Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce (AACC), City of Covington, and the Northern Kentucky University Collaborative for Economic Engagement. The KY Hub program will give free coaching, help with applying for grants, accelerators for businesses owned by women of color and many other tools. Read about the Innovation Alley Hub here. https://www.covingtonky.gov/news/2020/08/11/innovating-innovation-alley
Northern Kentucky area businesses (and those in Cincinnati) can get assistance from a business accelerator from Northern Kentucky University. There may be free grant money from a program known as Fundnoire, which focuses on Black owned, minority, Latino, and BIPOC businesses. there are business leadership classes, mentoring, advice, coaching and other mentoring services as well as the grant programs. Read more here https://www.nku.edu/socapaccelerate.html
Northern KY Aviatra Accelerators is based in Covington and the non-profit helps women entrepreneurs. They help women owned business get free professional advice, access Capital (including grants or loans), various workshops and other support. Both existing and new businesses will get help. Learn more here. https://www.aviatraaccelerators.org/
Southern and Western Kentucky small business financial assistance programs
Bowling Green low income, women, minority owned businesses can contact POP-UP. The program is part of the Housing Authority of Bowling Green, and operates as a non-profit/charity. They help the underserved as well as businesses with low or no credit. There may be low cost loans, networking events, financial help, businesses coaching, and many other services. Learn more on the non-profit here. https://www.facebook.com/HABGPOPUP/
Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation as well as the Madisonville Minority Economic Development Council provide a wide variety of financial assistance programs, including to Black women owned companies, veterans, Latino and others. There is also help with certification, applications to government grants, and other economic development services. Read more here. https://www.westcentralky.com/
Women’s Fund of Southcentral Kentucky has grants for non-profits that focus on women’s causes. It can be for education, Human Services, Economic Development, and other causes that help women grow, develop and achieve success. Applicants need to be a non-profit / charity. Apply here. https://cfsky.org/womens-fund-grant-guidelines/
May and June 2023
Ashland Kentucky provides interest free loans to small women and minority owned businesses. There are conditions and restrictions in place, including if certain goals are met the loans may in fact be “waived”. The money is part of the 2023 Community Development Block Grant Fund, and a focus is on growing businesses in the city. Learn more here. https://www.ashlandky.gov/departments/community___economic_development/cdbg.php
March and April 2023
Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative is a multi-part, year long grant program for small businesses in the state, with some funds allocated to women, veterans, and minorities. A combination of low-interest, or 0% loans as well as grants or equity investments are offered. Applications are accepted by the state, banks and other partners, including Keyhorse Capital. Learn more here. https://ced.ky.gov/entrepreneurship/KSBCI
April and May 2022
West Kentucky Community and Technical College is offering free small business training, workshops and classes to minorities. It is a multiple week long session that covers everything from legal to getting free grant money, creating business plans, taxes, record keeping, financing, and more. The program is part of the colleges The WKCTC Guarantee service. To learn more on the training, dial 270-534-3821 or 270-534-3444. Or more information is here as well. https://westkentucky.kctcs.edu/about/wkctc-guarantee/index.aspx
Covington small businesses, including minority, women, and veteran, can apply for the free City Small Business Grant Program. The money can be used to help with rent, mortgages, and related operational costs. There are also loans, counseling services, and other assistance programs for businesses in the city. Learn more. https://www.covingtonky.gov/government/departments/economic-development/-incentives#:~:text=Part%20of%20our%20Small%20Business,month%20(whichever%20is%20less).
October and November 2021
LHOME is a lender that works with the city of Louisville and non-profits such as the Urban League. Together they are offering low cost loans, free coaching, and other support as part of the Back to Business initiative. A major focus is on BIPOC owned businesses, those owners with a disability, as well as women owned companies. The loans are also for businesses that have been hit hard by COVID. Apply here. https://www.lhomeky.org/b2b
Women and/or minority (as well as veteran) owned businesses in the counties of Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton or Pendleton can apply for free $10,000 grants from the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Duke Energy Foundation. A main focus on the grants, which are mostly funded from Duke Energy, are to help businesses grow. This means the owner needs to have a plan to increase revenue, profit, employees, and in general grow their business. Apply here. http://www.nkychamber.com/covid-19/nky-small-business-recovery-grant-for-minority-women-or-veteran-owned-businesses/
Lexington-Fayette Urban County businesses can apply for up to $25,000 in loans. Up to 50% of the funds will be allocated to women, minority, LGBTQ+ and other disadvantaged businesses. But those applicants also need to qualify. The government is issuing the loans as part of COVID relief. Apply here or get more information. https://www.lexingtonky.gov/economicdevelopment
March and April 2021
Park Community Credit Union as well as Louisville Metro Government (LMG) is offering up to $2.2 million dollars to a number of small businesses in Louisville. The funds will go to businesses hit by COVID, with a focus on small businesses in the service sector. Another focus is on giving loans to minority, women, veteran, and disadvantaged businesses, including those with bad or poor credit. The money can help with operating costs such as rent, utility bills, safety equipment, utilities and more, Apply here: https://parkcommunity.com/smallbusiness/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
Fayette County and Lexington businesses can apply for a government grant program that is worth up to $5 million dollars. The financial aid will be in the form of a forgivable, interest free loan. Up to $50,000 can be borrowed by small businesses, including those with poor credit. Minority, veteran, disabled and women owned businesses will be given priority by the council. Learn more on this loan program and other COVID resources for small businesses. https://www.lexingtonky.gov/COVID-19/small-business-support
November and December 2020
Bowling Green minority businesses can get very low interest rate loans (as low as 2%APR) from the Housing Authority. A program known as People’s Opportunity Program for Underserved Populations (POP-UP) is disbursing funds. The loans come from a combination of donations as well as major banks, including Independence Bank, BB&T, American Bank & Trust, US Bank and Franklin Bank & Trust. To learn more or apply for a loan, dial (270) 843-6071.
Louisville has several financial assistance programs for local businesses. They range from interest free loans to CARES grants, mentoring services, classes from lenders, business plan development and others. Some are run by the city and other programs are run in a private-public partnership. Any business or startup can apply, but assistance is also aimed at minorities, women, veterans, and disadvantaged companies. Options include Louisville Forward and the Small Business Covid-19 Relief Loan program, LHOME and Lenderfit low-interest loans as well as free advice from the Metro Council. Over 50% of the money is going to women, veterans, and minorities in Louisville. Find other assistance https://louisvilleky.gov/government/louisville-forward
GRAAD, or the Green River Area Development District, is offering zero interest rate loans of $5,000 to $25,0000 per qualified business. The funds are for the counties of Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Daviess, Ohio, Union and Webster counties in Kentucky. The loans also will have lower or zero fees, payment plans, and flexibility. A focus of GRAAD is on minority and female run small business. Apply here. https://www.gradd.com/
By Jon McNamara