Small to medium sized businesses, start up companies or entrepreneurs can get help from loans or free grant programs in Pennsylvania. There are funds for Black owned businesses, women owned or run companies, LGBTQ owners, Asians and other disadvantaged groups. Find how and where to get funds near you below. The state of Pennsylvania as well as federal government may offer assistance along with credit unions, corporations, foundations, banks, non-profits as well as other organizations.
The Pennsylvania loan, mentoring, and free grant programs are open to all business owners. However you will find below programs that have set aside funds for minorities and/or women owned businesses. This means that each lender, bank, or company has dedicated some money for women, Black owned businesses, Latinos and others. Certain funds are allocated to assist them. Many of the Pennsylvania programs will not only give cash loans or grants but they also provide counseling, mentoring, sales help, and so much more. Financial help is prioritized for MWBE and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) owned businesses in Pennsylvania.
Many of the small business and startup programs for minorities, women, veterans, Black or Latinos and others are in the major cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown and others. However there is funding as well as free counseling, marketing help, technical assistance and other support across the state.
Find loans and free grants for minority or women businesses in Pennsylvania
The list of minority/women loan and free grant assistance programs will be updated daily. There are funds in all cities, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and other cities and towns across the state. Black business owners, women, and other disadvantaged minority groups can all apply for these funds.
Year round free financial assistance, grant or loan programs, and business coaching
A number of financial assistance programs, coaching programs, mentoring and more is offered year round in Pennsylvania. Find details below by city, county, as well as “sections” of the state. In addition to these year round grant programs and other services, monthly programs are offered too – as listed below.
Statewide grants, loans, and services for MWBE businesses
Community First Fund is a non-profit CDFI that focuses on small businesses as well as start-ups. They offer $1000 to $50,000 microloans, coaching and technical help, larger dollar loans from a credit union and other support. A major focus is on ensuring businesses owned by People of Color in PA get the capital they need. Learn about the CDFI fund here. https://communityfirstfund.org/
Microloans from Kiva are offered across Pennsylvania. The lender works with different non-profits and government agencies to help with applications. The loans have a zero percent interest rate and they can help a start up business up through any existing small business that has been operating for many years. The goal is to help the underserved, including women, veteran, and minority owned businesses, get the capital they need. Loans are offered by City of York. The agency offers up to $10,000 loans, marketing help, and other support in partnership with Kiva. More details https://www.yorkcity.org/business/kiva-york/. All of SW Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, can apply for interest free loans from the Riverside Center of Innovation. Resource centers, Kiva loans, and other aid is offered. Learn more. https://www.riversidecenterforinnovation.com/. Or in Erie County and the city has a Kiva financial assistance program offered as well. entrepreneurs, small to mid sized businesses, low income owners and others can apply. Get details on their programs. https://cityof.erie.pa.us/
Pennsylvania Chamber for Black Owned Business, or PACBOB, is a statewide organizations focused on minority and in particular Black owned businesses. They work with the state, federal government, and local African American business Chambers. Training, loan or grant programs, technical help, counseling or free business coaching and more is offered. They also help Black owned businesses qualify for government expenditures. Read more. https://www.pachamber.org/membership/propel_your_business/
PMBDA, or the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Agency, gives low cost loans to ethnic minorities. The government backed loans can pay for land, equipment, machinery, and used for working capital. The PMBDA provides a number of other small business services too. Learn more here. https://dced.pa.gov/programs/pennsylvania-minority-business-development-authority-pmbda/
Central and Southern Pennsylvania
Reading area entrepreneurs and small-micro businesses can use the programs available at Alvernia University‘s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. There is a Business Incubator Program, a technology transfer and learning service as well as a Fellows Program among other resources. Most years they also provide a number of grants to small businesses in the Reading PA region. Learn more here. https://opake.alvernia.edu/
Philadelphia and SE region free grants and loans
Black and Brown minority businesses in Philadelphia can get financial help (and other support) from the Pro Disinfect, which is run by the The Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia. There is assistance with applying for loans, free counseling, back office support, venture capital, and other assistance. The loans will have a very low APR (zero to 2%) and can help businesses with funds they need. For additional support or information, click here. https://www.theenterprisecenter.com/
Chester County women owned businesses (or non-profits) can apply for grants and support from the Fund for Women and Girls. The help non-profits, charities or women owned companies with a social cause – those that work to improve the education, health, and financial standing of women. Grants and other support is available on occasion, and learn more here https://www.thefundcc.org/
PIDC Philadelphia is a non-profit lender that often provides funds to businesses that can’t get a loan from anywhere else. Many borrowers have poor, or limited, credit histories and/or come from low income regions of the city. A number of funds also go towards minority owned businesses. Learn more on the lender here. https://www.pidcphila.com/
WISE Women helps non-profits only in Blair County. They can provide grants for scholarships, information on starting a business, highlight women owned businesses and recognize them, and give females other support. The main phone number is 814-822-0332.
Women’s Opportunities Resource Center (WORC) is based in Philadelphia and is a CDFI. However not only do they offer low interest rate (or 0% APR) loans, but they help in other ways. They offer credit counseling services, job programs, business training, self-employment resources and much more. They focus on women of all races from low income or disadvantaged regions. Continue reading here. https://www.worc-pa.com/index.html
York County small businesses can get support from the Bloom Empowerment Center. The center works to provide women, minority, and other small business owners with access to capital as well as other free business development services. There are classes, business start up programs, help finding and applying to free corporate or government grants and more. Read about the center here. https://www.yceapa.org/bloom/
Pittsburgh and SW Pennsylvania assistance programs
Chatham University’s (in Pittsburgh) Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship is a resource for the city. Among other resources is the Women’s Business Center. Learn about the legal structures of a business as well as capital raising including loans from lenders or government grants. Get help with digital marketing, sales tips, website development, and much more. Get a list of their services here. https://www.chatham.edu/cwe/
Pittsburgh businesses can seek help, including microlams, from Paramount Pursuits. They are an incubator that focus on MWBE and other businesses that are involved in “main street revitalization”. The incubator is also a Kiva Trustee. They work with each applicant and client to assess their needs, find resources (whether grants or financial aid or loans), help with marketing and so much more. Learn about the agency. https://www.paparamount.com/
Pittsburgh creative businesses can turn to I Made It Market. The organization is a Trustee of Kiva, a non-profit that issues 0% interest rate loans. The organization can help arts and craft businesses, organic companies, farmers, artists, painters and others. The free loans are combined with counseling, sales or marketing assistance to help the small MWBE business expands. Read more on applying for assistance. https://www.imadeitmarket.com/
Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation provides 0% interest rate loans (as part of being a Kiva Trustee). They are also a business incubator for Latino / Hispanic businesses that are in the city of Pittsburgh. There are a wide range of programs offered at the non-profit, ranging from financial assistance to help with cash flow projections, accounting, help marketing and so much more. They are a multi-faceted non-profit for the community. Learn about their services here. https://www.phdcincubator.org/
Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation helps businesses in the Wilkinsburg area only. They help entrepreneurs and/or small businesses get 0% interest rate microloans, mostly from Kiva. the goal of the non-profit is to help revitalize the area, and there is financial aid from loans, free business coaching and other support. Another priority is on ensuring disadvantaged businesses, such as minority, women, and veteran companies get the funds they need. Find details here. https://wilkinsburgcdc.org/
Women’s Business Network, which supports several counties around Pittsburgh, has a variety of services for women owned businesses, including Latina, veteran, and Black women among others. From time to time, there are grant programs for women owned companies, as well as start ups, in counties such as Allegheny, Beaver, Fayette, Greene, and Washington. There is a membership program that works to help women overcome barriers. Continue reading here. https://wbninc.com/
November and December 2022
Erie County stART Up Creative Business Development Grant Application is providing $5000 grants to qualified entrepreneurs to help them start a business. The funds are aimed at “creative” industries and companies. This will be funds to help service company, with a focus on creative/innovative/cutting edge start ups. Get help with marketing, equipment, IT support and more. Apply here. https://www.executivepulse.net/ECRDAMessageStartupGrant.html
Mercer County businesses can apply for low-cost loans from the Shenango Valley Enterprise Zone. Small businesses need to be investing in the region, hiring, and part of the zone. Some funds will be allocated to disadvantaged businesses, such as veteran-owned, women or minority, and others. Find details on the zone here. http://www.svezc.com/
Central Pennsylvania area majority women-owned businesses can apply for the WBCO BLOOM Grant Application. Funds are offered by the YCEA’s Women’s Business Center as well as the The BLOOM Business Empowerment Center. The financial assistance provided will range from $500 to $1500 per qualified business. The money can pay for business expanision, advertising and other operation costs. Learn more here. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdXfaR0xFdntu0PMCCQPbTyDP0caR1RNTmPdh513cyPNrhKpg/viewform
Black artists in the Philadelphia area can apply for free $1500 to $5000 grants from the Black Music City project. The financial assistance will help artists, creative people, musicians and others that are in a “creative” industry. It can be a small business or individual. Apply here. https://www.blackmusiccity.com/apply
Your County PA small businesses can apply for free grants from Susquehanna SCORE or York County. Only current or former SCORE clients can apply, and the business needs to have less than 10 employees. The funds are combined with free coaching, mentoring, in person or online workshops and more. There are only a couple grants offered, and apply here. https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Susquehanna-SCORE-2023-Next-Step-Grant—York-County-Businesses-Only.html
Erie County small, BIPOC owned businesses can apply to the Small Business Fund., which provides low-cost, some interest free loans. The fund was created in partnership with Greater Erie Economic Development Corporation, Community Foundation, the Erie County Redevelopment Authority and other local corporations. The money is focused on helping businesses that will develop, enhance and create jobs in the region, such as commercial real estate, storefronts and the like. Learn more here. https://diverseerie.org/business-development/
Community First Fund, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is offering support to minority owned entrepreneurs in the Philadelphia area as well as SE Pennsylvania. Truist is offering funds as part of the Community First Fund’s Economic Justice Fund (EJFund). There will be low cost (or interest free loans), business coaching, workshops, classes, and other services for disadvantaged businesses, focused on veteran, minority, and veterans among others. Get details here. https://communityfirstfund.org/news/truist-grant/
July 2022 and August 2022
The state government has created the State Small Business Credit Initiative. Small businesses, with some allocated to women, minorities, and veterans, can apply for (1) equity investments or (2) low cost or maybe interest free loans. The funds will be allocated locally across Pennsylvania, and any small business owner who is interest in applying to contact their local county or city economic development partner agency. Find details here. https://dced.pa.gov/programs-funding/federal-funding-opportunities/pennsylvania-state-small-business-credit-initiative-pa-ssbci/
York (city and county) small businesses can apply for the Bloom Grant Program. A non-profit, working with the county, is providing the funds. It is a micro-grant program that a focus on businesses in downtown York as well as women, veteran, and minority owned businesses. There is also technical help, guidance, and other support provided at the same time as the micro-grants. Learn more here. https://www.downtownyorkpa.com/blog/2022/7/10/the-bloom-business-empowerment-center-and-downtown-inc-are-pleased-to-present-the-2022-downtown-york-bloom-grant-program
April, May and June 2022
Artists in Philadelphia can apply for free $5000 grants from the Velocity Fund. The Andy Warhol Foundation and the Philadelphia Contemporary partner together on the financial assistance programs. Some grant money will be allocated to women, LGTBQ+ and minority-owned businesses – even immigrants. Any type o artist can apply, including design, painters, woodworking, ceramic, performers, Graphic designers, fashion, videographers and others. Learn more on the grants for artists here. https://velocityfund.org/
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia area businesses can apply for Comcast Rise. The cable/internet provider is providing up to $10,000 to dozens of small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, Latino, and Asian American people and/or female owned. The businesses must be operating for one year or more and be independently owned (among other criteria). It is a multi-year programs as well and Comcast will help with marketing, internet access, publicity for the business and more. Apply for free grants here. https://www.comcastrise.com/rise-apply/
Elk County small businesses can apply for free grants from the America Rescue Plan, which is a COVID relief program. Up to $5,000 can be borrowed by each business, with a major focus on women, minority, and veteran owned small businesses. The money can be used to purchase technology, working capital, and pay for other business investment. Learn more here. https://co.elk.pa.us/images/Commissioners/ARPA_Aid_to_Small_Business_3-22.pdf
Harrisburg area businesses owned by people of color (Black, Latino, Asian, etc.) can apply for a program at the Capital Region Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab. It is a free training, counseling, an accelerator type program that also gives information on financial help. Some grants may be offered from a competition. The program is run in partnership with M&T Bank as well as the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Find details here. https://mtbank.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9NwMYV1V6AUk8M6
Centre County United Way Women’s Leadership Group (WLG) is providing free grants to non-profits or small businesses that focus on the great good of the community, that are focused on women and children. The assistance is for organizations that have some form of social cause around family or child development. Find details on the grants. https://www.ccunitedway.org/womens-leadership-group
March and April 2022
The City of Pittsburgh is providing minority, women, and veteran owned businesses free grants to help them start and/or grow their business through the Urban Development Authority of Pittsburgh. There are two financial assistance programs offered for local businesses. One is the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Developer Equity Fund and the pother is the URA Ventures program. There may be very low interest rate (or interest free loans) as well as free grants from both of the programs. Start ups, small businesses, sole-proprietors and others may get help. Learn more or apply here https://investpgh.org/?page_id=1053 or look here for more details https://www.ura.org/pages/mbrglf.
JVS Philadelphia Fund for Women is providing free grants of up to $50,000 into existing businesses that need capital to “fuel” their growth and take it to the next level. The financial aid, as well as other support, is for women owned businesses that have a strong pathway to growing into a meaningful organization. Von Seldeneck as well as Ben Franklin Technology Partners are partnering on this funding source from female owned businesses. Apply here. https://www.jvsphilafund.com/
York County businesses can apply for free government grants. The financial aid program is known as YoCo Strong Restart Grants. The goal is to help businesses that have had reduced sales, closures, or other impacts from COVID. Get help with online sales, solving inventory issues, and other costs of the pandemic. Apply here. https://yocostrong.org/
Up to $60,000 is being provided to LGBTQIA+, Veteran, women, or minority owned businesses in Pennsylvania. The Job Creators Quest Grant from Founders First is the name of the financial assistance program. The funds can be used to help pay bills, hire employees or staff, keep their “doors open” post COVID and more. Get details here. https://foundersfirstcdc.org/pa-nj/
Businesses that are and commit to hiring in Philadelphia City or County, that are owned by Black, Latino, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, Person of Color, Military Veteran, or female businesses in Philadelphia can apply for free grants from the Founders Fund. Anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 will be provided by the program. The goal is to help small businesses hiring new employees and expand. Learn more. https://foundersfirstcdc.org/pa-nj/
Child and day care centers in Pittsburgh can apply for forgivable loans. The Urban Redevelopment Authority is giving out up to $20,000 per approved provider, with women and minority owned child care centers giving priority. A major reason is to help get daycare open so that the local economy can get back on track and people can return to work post COVID. Applications can be processed at Invest PGH, a local non-profit. Apply here. https://investpgh.org/?page_id=278
Women and Minority owned businesses in Erie County Pennsylvania can apply for the Diversity Loan Program. The financial aid program is run by the Erie County Redevelopment Authority. It is a micro-loan that is paid out to qualified businesses, and the funds will have a low, competitive interest rate. Applicants can’t have legal issues, there will be credit checks done as well as other criteria need to be met. Read more here. https://www.ecrda.net/services/access-to-capital/
February and March 2021
South Philly based Latino, immigrant, and Mexican owned businesses can get help from South Philly Mexican Businesses COVID-19 Relief Fund. The service combines crowdfunding, financial help, referrals and partnership. The aim is to have Mexican and Latino businesses band together to support the community. There is also financial aid from the GoFund me account. Learn more here. https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/mexican-business-relief
The COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance program provides free government grants of $5000 to $50,000 to small to mid-sized businesses that have by impacted by the pandemic. A priority is on women, minority, and businesses owned by someone who is disabled or a veteran. Others can apply though. A partner of the program is the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in Pennsylvania, as they also focus on helping black and minority owned businesses get the capital they need. The amount of the free government grant is based on the businesses revenue. Apply here. https://www.reinvestment.com/pasmallbusinessgrants/
Women and minority owned gyms and restaurants that are located within the limits of the city of Philadelphia can apply for the COVID-19 Restaurant and Gym Relief Grant Program. The financial assistance is for businesses with under two million dollars in revenue, that are located in lower income or distressed areas, and that have been impacted by racial violence and/or COVID. Learn more. https://www.phila.gov/2021-01-22-philadelphia-covid-19-restaurant-and-gym-relief-program/
Women owned restaurants in Pennsylvania can apply for grants of up to $2500 that are being issued from the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association along with the Pennsylvania Conference for Women as well as Barbie Marshall. The funds are only for up 70 different restaurant owners. The funds can be for any female owned restaurant, including black, Latino, and others. Find a list of female and minority owned restaurants. Grants can be for rent, bills, employees salaries or other costs. Find more details here. https://www.paconferenceforwomen.org/
Allegheny County non-profits, whether minority owned or not, can apply for grants from the Pittsburgh Foundation. The assistance is only for non-profits/charities. The funds can be used to help battle poverty, and part of this can be technology for minority owned businesses, workshops on entrepreneurship classes, information about online businesses, housing, and more. All are free grants, and apply here. https://pittsburghfoundation.org/
Berks County Board of Commissioners has up to $6 million dollars to provide financial aid to small businesses. Up to $50,000 per applicant will be issued in the form of free government grants. Preference is given to businesses as well as entrepreneurs owned by the disabled, people of color, veterans, women, Black owners and individuals. the money can pay for operating costs, sales, inventory, rent and other bills. Businesses, including minorities and female owned, can apply here. https://rebuildberks.com/funding/
YCEA of York County is offering grants up to $35,000. The emergency funding is for small businesses in York Pennsylvania. The funds are for sole-proprietors as well as companies of fewer than 50 employees. The York County Economic Alliance (YCEA) is ensuring some of the free funds go to minorities (Black, Latino, Asian) as well as female owned companies. Apply here http://yocostrong.org/ or dial 717-718-7845.
Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Pittsburgh and PNC Bank are partnering together on 3 different programs. There are funds being given to minority and inner city businesses and entrepreneurs. The assistance is for CDFI, the Catapult: Startup to Storefront program as well as the Recovery Loan Fund. A focus is on low- and moderate-income areas of the city. The millions of dollars can help child care providers, restaurants, online companies, and other small businesses or sole-proprietors in the Pittsburgh area. More information is here. https://www.ura.org
Pittsburgh area businesses and entrepreneurs can get free grants or low interest rate loans. PNC Banks and the Urban Redevelopment Authority are offering up to $10 million dollars to businesses. The Catapult: Startup To Storefront Program is for women and minority entrepreneurs as well as start ups. There is also Black, Latino, and Asian assistance from the Emergency And Recovery Loan Fund as well as the Businesses and Nonprofits In Underserved Neighborhoods program. https://www.ura.org/
The Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund is a patchwork of financial aid or bridge loans. About half of the loans go to minority businesses. The loans are forgivable if conditions are meaning, meaning they turn into grants. Banks and lenders in Pennsylvania are participating as well. https://pa30dayfund.com/
By Jon McNamara