Black, Latino, LGBTQ, Asian, Veteran, and Women owned businesses in Ohio can find free grant programs as well as low cost loans to help them finance their business (or start up). There are a number of lenders, government programs, and sources of funding listed below, some of which may cover your city or region. There are loans, grants, mentoring programs and more in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and other Ohio cities that allocate funds to women and/or minority companies.
The money can cover various business expenses, including payroll, sales, rent, website or technology costs, marketing and more. Each lender (or grantor) will have their own terms and conditions in place as well as application process for a free MWBE or BIPOC grant or loan. But each of the programs listed below (which are updated daily) have agreed to provide some of their funds to minority owned as well as women owned companies.
Not only may a small business in Ohio get the funds they need to grow (or save) their business, but there are also programs that help minority or women entrepreneurs as well as startup businesses. The assistance can come from a bank, foundation, government agency, non-profit, corporation or other lenders.
Find small business loans or free grants in Ohio for women or minority companies
The funds and programs below are updated daily and by month. As noted, some of the low cost loans or grants are allocated to veterans, LGBTQ, Black businesses, Asians, Latinos and women owned businesses.
Akron Ohio Rubber City Match is a free grant and/or low cost loan program for small businesses that will help develop the downtown area, and that will reclaim vacant building. A major focus is on redeveloping this region of the city, with priority to MWBE businesses/enterprises. There are two “tracks”/components to this financial assistance program. Learn more here. https://www.rubbercitymatch.com/
Cincinnati Ohio entrepreneurs can turn to the non-profit MORTAR. They offer a training program that helps entrepreneurs learn the ins and outs of starting a business, creating business plans, raising capital and more. They help low income, underprivilege communities in the city with a focus on minorities. Ongoing support is giving to, including information on free government grants, low cost loans, mentoring and more. Continue reading. https://wearemortar.com/
Dayton Ohio businesses (or start-ups) can get help from an incubator program. Assistance is offered by The Greater West Dayton Incubator (GWDI), which focuses on Black, Latino, low income, and BIPOC businesses. They offer microloans as well as other support. Get legal help is starting a business, help with business plan creation, sales and marketing help, website development and so much more. Find details on the incubator program here. https://udayton.edu/business/experiential_learning/centers/crottycenter/strategic-initiatives/the-greater-west-dayton-incubator.php
Erie County Minority Business Empowerment Team helps BIPOC and Blacks, women, Latinos and Asians owned small businesses as well as BIPOC. The agency can be a place to learn about grants as well as mentoring from successful business owners. Networking, workshops, and other tools are offered. Learn more. https://www.facebook.com/MBETSandusky.
Franklin County and Columbus Ohio has several free business development and assistance programs. They help is offered by both non-profits as well as charities – local and national. Some of the examples are New Horizons Computer Learning Center of Columbus OH (call (614) 798-1000) and Ohio Small Business Development Center (dial (614) 287-5294).
ECDI is a microlender that focuses on offering low cost loans as well as other support. A focus is on giving financing to veteran, immigrant, minorities, refugees, women, and LGBTQ owned businesses. They also give veterans in Ohio support, offer loans for construction projects, rural loans and so much more. Advice, coaching, marketing help and other services are also offered by ECDI in Ohio. Read more. https://www.ecdi.org/
Ohio Women’s Business Coalition is made up of female business owners, leaders, politicians, and community leaders. The organization has a goal of helping female business owners start or grow a business, including helping with venturing funding, capital raises and more. They also accept members to join. Find details here. https://ohiowomenscoalition.org/
Women’s Business Centers of Ohio has multiple sites in the state, including Cincinnati., Cleveland, and Columbus. WBC of Ohio offers free services to women owned businesses or females looking to start a business. There are free computer labs, training programs, networking, information on loans, mentoring and coaching from volunteer female business owners (including Black and Brown) and more. Find details on the centers and their assistance programs. https://www.wbcohio.org/
The state of Ohio is offering loans to MWBE and minority businesses. The two financial assistance programs vary, but both can offer either (1) low cost loans or (2) interest free funds to qualified borrowers. Options include Women’s Business Enterprise Loan Program, which is focused on MWBE owned companies. the second option is the Ohio Micro-Enterprise Loan Program. They can pay for equipment, real estate costs, and other bills. More details here. https://development.ohio.gov/minorityservices.htm
The Urban League of Cleveland is supporting local minority owned businesses. The programs are run by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as well as UBIZ Center. There are loans as well as financial help. Or get free professional consulting services, learn about additional small business capital, contract opportunities for sales, and other support services. There is also an Entrepreneurship Center on site. Get details here. https://ulcleveland.org/entrepreneurship-center/
Stark County Minority Business Assistance Center, which is run by the local Association, provides a number of free services, including help in raising capital for MWBE businesses from free grant or low cost loans. They also offer workshops, coaching, help with government certification and many other programs. Find details here. http://www.starkminoritybusiness.org/mbac
Small businesses and entrepreneurs in Summit County and Akron Ohio can turn to the Bounce Innovation Hub for information on financial help, free counseling, grant applications and other support. A GROW program is for women and minority tech companies; co-working spaces; free expert counseling; information on low cost loans or grants for capital and more is offered. The name of the grants also go by the term RISE. Read more. https://bouncehub.org/
An Ohio based lender offers the Huntington Lift Local Business program. Millions of dollars are being allocated to help veteran, women, and minority owned businesses. The lender is also working with the SBA to facilitate funds to those disadvantaged businesses. The Huntington Bank will be offering lower credit score requirements, zero origination fees and flexible, longer repayment options as part of their loans. Find more details on the lender. https://www.huntington.com/
September and October 2021
Women-owned businesses as well as minority owned micro-enterprises have access to several million dollars from a loan fund that is run by the Ohio Women’s Coalition. Each qualified business may be able to borrow tens of thousands of dollars. The goal is to help small businesses as well as sole-proprietors, venture capital companies, and well as start ups. Learn more. https://ohiowomenscoalition.org/
Columbus Ohio businesses, in particular Black and people of color, can apply for $5,000 microloans that have very low interest rates (or even 0%). The funds are even for business owners with no or poor credit histories. A major focus is on helping small businesses expand and hire people. The Urban League of Columbus is overseeing the program and taking applications for the loans. One program is known as the Minority Small Business Resiliency Initiative. Continue reading. https://www.cul.org/
Duke Energy and the City of Cincinnati are providing $5000 grants to small businesses that have been impacted by COVID. The Duke Energy Relief Funding program will give priority to women, veteran, and minority owned businesses. The funds can cover payroll expenses, mortgages or rent, legal aid, digital marketing, insurance and more. Apply here. https://www.cincinnatichamber.com/DukeFund
Dayton Ohio Black owned businesses can participate in the Gem City Black Business Month. It is a month long event with workshops and seminars all across the city. Network, learn about grant and loan programs, build partnerships with other minority business owners, find revenue opportunities and so much more. Learn about this free event. https://www.ohiofrn.org/events/gem-city-black-business-month
May and June 2021
Cincinnati area minority, women and LGBTQ owned small businesses can apply for free grants from the Cincinnati Chamber Foundation as well as the Johnson Foundation. Anywhere from 5,000 to $10,000 will be paid out to qualified businesses. The applicant needs a business plan, references, need to be a small business, have sales and more. Most of the financial help is for service businesses (that are “customer facing”) and that have been hot hard by recent economic challenges. Apply here. https://www.cincinnatichamber.com/foundation-grant
Columbus Ohio companies can apply to First Financial Bancorp. The bank is offering several grants of $2500 to Black, Indigenous, Latino and people of color (BIPOC) small businesses. The Columbus Urban League is partnering with the lender. All the grants are part of the Small Business Resiliency Initiative. The money is for Columbus metro area, including all counties around it. Learn more. https://share.hsforms.com/1KZE8VLQ6TEWNSTv-FrZebA4nxxw?fbclid=IwAR2EqDZcUnC6NlMppteljwSZzVqDj7rsWlwA43VAvWKuFhGhR0d4dZh-xLY
Sandusky Ohio minority owned and founded companies can apply for a free $2000 grant. The funds are provided from the Minority Business Empowerment Team. Dozens of businesses will be awarded the money, and the funds can be used to pay aby type of bill. Grants are run in partnership with local non-profits in Erie County Ohio including the Economy Development Corporation. Apply here. https://www.eriecountyedc.org/rise
Minority owned businesses in the city of Cincinnati can apply to the J. Phillip Holloman Endowment Fund. It is run by the City Chamber of Commerce. Minority owned businesses (including Black, Latino, Native American, Asian, etc.) can get funds to help them grow their business. It is an accelerator program. Equity investments, loans, or grants may be issued and free advice as well as business help arranged. First Financial Bank is a partner. Learn more/Apply here. https://www.cincinnatichamber.com/
October and November 2020
Toledo and Lucas County is offering funds to help both (1) non-profits and (2) private, for profit businesses. Most of the funds will be allocated to minority as well as veteran or women owned businesses. The funds can be used to pay utilities, rent, housing, and other small business expenses. Black, Latino, women, LGBTQ, and other disadvantaged business are given priority. Funding is limited, but read more here. https://www.toledochamber.com/grant.html
$8 million dollars is being offered in Franklin County and the City of Columbus. CARES Act funding is flowing to the county, and money can help small businesses as well as start ups. Priority is for vulnerable small businesses that were hot by Coronavirus. Black owned businesses, Latino, women, Asian, and other minority companies are often given priority. This is a free grant program. Call (614) 257-6300 for applications.
Columbus and Franklin County residents can get grants from the A Business Growth and Equity Alliance. About $1.6 million dollars will be allocated by the Urban League of Columbus Ohio to minority (Black, Asian, LAtion, etc.) as well as women owned businesses. In addition, free technical assistance is offered to help them grow their business, increase sales, and get the support they need. The Urban League is disbursing the free grants. Dial (614) 257-6300 or https://www.cul.org/
By Jon McNamara