Small to mid-sized business owners and entrepreneurs in Minnesota can get financial help from loans and free grant programs. There are funds for disadvantaged businesses, including Black owned companies, veterans, the LGBTQ, women or Latino companies and others. Find where, and how, to apply for a grant or loan in Minnesota near you below.
The funds can come from the government, non-profits, corporate foundations, or the SBA among other groups. In addition to funding for your business, most of the programs also give the business owner (or entrepreneur) other support. It may be help with marketing, website development, free counseling or mentoring services. The aim is to help a small business grow or provide capital to owners that lack traditional source of lending, such as access to banks.
Anyone can apply for assistance. However, there are some loans as well as grants dedicated for minorities and women business owners in Minnesota. There is help for small businesses and startups for cities including Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Rochester, and all across Minnesota. Many of the financial aid programs listed give priority to MWBE as well as businesses of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
Minnesota small business loans and free grants for women or minorities
The list of financing programs below is updated daily. There may be loans for new or existing businesses, grants to help start a company or grow an existing one, as well as other small to mid sized business assistance. Any Minnesota resident can apply, but some funds or other resources will always be allocated for minorities (Black, Asian, Latino, LGBTQ) as well as other disadvantaged business owners, including women and veterans.
Year round financial resources for MWBE
There are a number of free grants, financial assistance programs, and loans in MN that operate year round. Find details below by “category”, including by city/county/and parts of the state. There are also free grants and loans by month in Minnesota, as you continue to scroll down the page.
Statewide assistance programs for women and minority businesses
African Development Center, or ADC, helps Black businesses owners as well as immigrants. There are many assistance programs offered, ranging from loans to Crédit repair services for African American business owners start ups, free Entrepreneurial Training Programs, legal help, bookkeeping services, HR classes and more. Learn more on the non-profit ADC here. https://www.adcminnesota.org/services-programs/start-business
Asian-owned businesses in Minnesota can get help from the Chinese American Chamber of Commerce. Small business owners and entrepreneurs from any Asian owned businesses (not just Chinese) can get help. They offer SBA microloans, applications to free government grants when available, and Immigrant summit, Workforce solutions and so much more. They are based in Bloomington MN but cover Asian businesses statewide. More information here. https://mncbc.org/en/
The Entrepreneur Fund has locations across Minnesota, including in Duluth, Eveleth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Little Falls. They partner with entrepreneurs , with a focus on MWBE and disadvantaged businesses, to launch and/or grow a small business. There are loan programs, networking events, mentorship, business plan and website development help and other tools offered. Learn details here. https://www.entrepreneurfund.org/
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development helps non-profits, if the non-profit assists disadvantaged businesses, across the state through loan programs as well as other support. There will be low cost or zero percent loans offered. If the non-profit has a goal of supporting women, Black, Veteran, immigrant or a minority business, then DEED can provide financial help to that non-profit. Learn more. https://mn.gov/deed/ed/
Red Letter Grant of Minnesota is a small non-profit agency that offers support to women owned businesses as well as entrepreneurs. There are a small number of grants as well as referrals to other financial resources. Women leaders in Minnesota also mentor business owners, offer guidance and free coaching, and other support. Get more details. https://www.redlettergrant.org/
Minneapolis St. Paul are loans and grant programs
Center for Economic Inclusion’s Vanguard Accelerator operates in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The non-profit is part of minority and MWBE programs offered by Founders First CDC, Economic Inclusion, Chase Bank and NEOO Partners. They are all committed to help helping Black, Indigenous, Women and Latino owned businesses (and the community at large) get financial assistance, grants and support they need. Up to $25,000 in interest free forgivable loans are provided. Find details here. https://www.centerforeconomicinclusion.org/
Minneapolis Foundation helps women, minority, veteran, and immigrant owned businesses throughout Minneapolis – St. Paul. There will be various micro-grants such as the Main Street Program, counseling services, and overall economic development. Both non-profit organizations as well as private businesses can get assistance from the Foundation, and find more details on their services here. https://www.minneapolisfoundation.org/
Neighborhood Development Center of Minneapolis has many assistance programs. One of them is known as Black and Latina Opportunity Connect, or BLOC. It helps women-owned small businesses, including Latina and black women. There are grant programs, free training and mentoring to help grow the business and address challenges. There are incubators, certification and more. Continue reading here. https://www.ndc-mn.org/
Minneapolis-St. Paul Women Venture provides a number of services to female owned small businesses. There will be from time to time interest free micro-loans, which will be small dollar amount. The non-profit also offers assistance with businesses plan development, classes, training, networking, consultations and much more. There may also be low cost, larger dollar loans for more established businesses. Read more. https://www.womenventure.org/
St. Paul Minnesota Latino Economic Development Center offers a number of assistance programs to Latinos in the Twin Cities as well as business owners or entrepreneurs. Residents can get emergency financial aid for their bills. But the center also helps Latino business owners. They help Latino farmers, small business owners, and others. Get information on applying for loans, grants, CDFI lender programs and more. They also give referrals to statewide business resources to Latinos. Read more. https://www.ledcmn.org/
St. Paul Center for Economic Inclusion is committed to help women owned businesses – Black and Latina. The St. Paul Minnesota non-profit partners with other agencies on the resources offered, including NEOO Partners Inc., Activate Network, and Fearless Commerce among others. There are a number of other assistance programs offered. Learn more here. https://www.centerforeconomicinclusion.org/
Women owned businesses in the Twin Cities region can get free training, support, and even loans from a non-profit known as WomenVentures. The help companies grow, or Scale Up. They also offer a tool kit of resources that female business owners can use, whether access to legal support, financial projections, and more. Learn more here. https://www.womenventure.org/index.html
Additional regions of MN for free grants or loans for businesses
Northland Foundation Small Business Development Center serves all of northeastern Minnesota. All of their services and assistance programs are free. Counselors can help people find free grants or low cost loans to apply for, including funds for veterans and MWBE businesses. They also offer guidance, legal tips such as whether a LLC or sole-proprietorship, help with business plan development and pro-formas and more. Continue reading. https://northlandsbdc.org/
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation provides assistance to 20 different counties in southern and central MN. There are economic development programs for rural areas, small MWBE businesses, and farmers among others. Everything from grants to the Entrepreneurs First (E1) as well as Entrepreneurial Bridge Event, SCORE free mentoring services and more. A wide variety of small business development programs, including financial aid, is offered. Learn more here. https://smifoundation.org/
Duluth 1200 Fund provides a low cost, or possibly interest free loan, as well as a mentor. Both free advice from a mentor and financial help are arranged by the Fund. The goal is to provide ongoing material support, coaching, and more to help a small business grow or start, including minoirty or women owned. Learn more here. https://1200fund.com/
June and July 2023
Nexus Community Partners is providing $50,000 grants to several hundred African Americans in Minnesota and the region. It is part of a reparation program. The funds will be for individuals, families, and it can be for small business owners too. Applicants need to be descendants of the African Slave trade, and the grant program is known as Open Roads. Learn more here. https://www.nexuscp.org/open-road-fund/
April and May 2023
Twin Cities businesses owned by women of color can apply for grants from the St. Paul’s Center of Economic Inclusion. There are also forgivable loans, free coaching and mentoring, as well as grants around $5,000. The financial help is for small, existing women owned businesses such as Black, Indigenous or Latina. Learn more on grants in the Minneapolis – St. Paul MN area, https://www.centerforeconomicinclusion.org/accelerator-grant-application
George Floyd family is providing grant money to minority – Black-owned businesses in Minneapolis. The money is part of the Ward 8 Community Benevolence Fund. Grants range from $5,000 to $25,000 or more, and all applications are assessed on a one-off basis. The goal is to help empower Black-owned businesses in the city to help them overcome challenges, barriers, and financial challenges. Get details here. https://www.theward8fund.org/
Center for Economic Inclusion Vanguard Accelerator from the Center helps businesses with a B2B, meaning minority businesses in which the company is not consumer facing but assists other businesses. A wide range of support is offered. Free grant money is offered to as well as other support. Apply here https://www.centerforeconomicinclusion.org/accelerator-grant-application.
Minnesota Loan Guarantee program is offered using federal government funds and approved lenders or banks. Small businesses that use the approved lenders will have an increased chance of getting the money they need, as the government is backing the loans. A major focus is on disadvantaged businesses – those owned by people of color, LGTBQ+, women and veterans in MN. Learn more here on the Economic Development (DEED) loans. https://mn.gov/deed/
May and June 2022
Free $10,000 grants are available in Minneapolis-St. Paul to businesses owned by BIPOC or women. Comcast Rise is providing financial help to a select number of businesses. The goal is to provide capital to minority owned businesses, including Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, Asian owned as well as female owned companies. Apply for Comcast Rise here. https://www.comcastrise.com/rise-apply/
Initiative Foundation as well as the Otto Bremer Trust are providing free $10,000 grants to small or micro businesses across central Minnesota. A major focus is on rural owned businesses as well as those owned by women, people of color, or veterans. Applicants need to have been operating prior to COVID and use the grants to help recover from the pandemic. Applicants need to also have less than 5 employees as well as less than 750K in annual revenue. Find details. https://www.ifound.org/microenterprise
Minneapolis – St. Paul small businesses can get grants from the The Get Down to Business Accelerator. There will be a few “winners” who are provided financial help as well as PR, social media marketing assistance, and other aid. The Neighborhood Development Center is also hosting the financial aid program, which focuses on grants for Black women and men, minorities, veterans, and also immigrant owned companies. Apply here. https://ndc-mn.tfaforms.net/92
November and December 2021
Non-profits in the city of Rochester that focus on community development can apply for free government grants from the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency. The funds are for non-profit businesses that have a role in improving the downtown area. Assistance is part of the Department of Employment & Economic Development, or DEEDs program. Learn more, and apply here. https://mn.gov/deed/business/financing-business/deed-programs/emergency-programs/economic-revitalization/
December 2020 and January 2021
The Midway Fund is for businesses in St. Paul that were impacted by Social Justice issues in 2020. Many inner city businesses, most of which were minority owned, can get a $2500 grant (as funding allows). It is also for pandemic related issues. Many minority owned restaurants, service industries, hotels, and related businesses can get help. Learn more. http://www.midwaychamber.com/we-love-midway
Businesses in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis or St. Paul) that have a health focus can apply for free grants from the American Heart Association as well as the Social Impact Fund. There will also be some of those grants allocated to women, minority, and disadvantaged businesses. Both non-profit as well as for-profits can apply – as long as they focus on addressing health disparities in the region. There is also training, MBA type workshops and more. Apply here. http://heart.org/fund
October – November 2020
Rebuild&HealMN’s is a local non-profit in the twin cities of Minneapolis – St. Paul. The focus on helping disadvantaged small businesses, including Black, Latino, LGBTQ, Veteran, Women and others. There will be financial assistance given to help small business owners recover from both Floyd riots as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The non-profit also help the diverse immigrant population in the Twin Cities get established. Loans, grants, counseling and other assistance; apply here. https://www.rebuildandhealmn.org/
Blaine and Spring Lake Park are both providing $500,000 in grants to small businesses. The funds are issued in partnership with the Blaine Community Development as well as Spring Lake Park City Council. Funds are for all businesses, inclusion retailers, restaurants, and other companies with some free grants allocated to minority as well as women owned companies. Blaine residents call 763-784-6700 with questions. Spring Lake residents can dial 763-784-6491 for applications or information.
Olmsted County businesses can get financial help. Up to $25,000 can be provided by the Olmsted County and Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI). Priority of this grant program will be given to minority, veteran and women-owned businesses or the disadvantaged. There is also support for businesses with six or fewer employees. http://www.raedi.com/doing-business-here/cares-act.php
By Jon McNamara