Minority businesses (Black, Latino, Asian, etc.) and female or veteran owned businesses can get help from both grant programs and/or interest free (or low cost) loans. The state of Rhode island and federal government provide assistance. There are also non-profits, corporations, banks, and other lenders near you that may offer women or minority owned small businesses loans and free grants. Find details below.
The list of financial assistance programs is updated daily. In addition to getting capital for their existing or new business from a cash grant or low interest rate loan, most of the programs also give other support. There is free counseling or mentoring. Women, veterans and other also have centers that are open that give out tips on getting financing, website or online sale workshops, sales help, and much more.
There are loans or grants offered statewide, including in Providence Rhode Island. Priority is for MWBE, veteran, and BIPOC owned businesses. Women and minority grants can also be used (and found) below anywhere in the state.
Find free small business grants in Rhode Island as well as loans
Minority run businesses, as well as veteran or female owned (or founded) companies can apply for help. There is assistance (financial and counseling) for sole-proprietors, entrepreneurs, or startup companies as well.
Ongoing Year Round Financial Assistance and Grants in Rhode Island
The city of Providence Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise has a goal of supporting and growing both women as well as minority owned businesses in the city and county. It is a government run agency. They help in two ways. First of all, they help MWBE owned businesses get contracts for new business/revenue as the government bids them out. In addition, the center also can refer women, Black, Latino, LGBTQ and other businesses to local resources such as financial help, mentoring, counseling and more. Call (401) 680-5766.
Hope and Main is a food and culinary incubator. They provide many assistance programs, including applications to Kiva 0% interest loans. There is also access to kitchens, meeting spaces, workshops and other programs that help small businesses in the culinary business start and improve. A major focus is on minority, women, and veteran owned organizations. Learn more here. https://makefoodyourbusiness.org/
Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) assists both Black owned businesses as well as other minority (Latino, immigrant, Black women, etc.). Small business owners and entrepreneurs can learn about raising capital, including free grants from the government or non-profits. Or learn about MWBE certification, technical help or e-commerce, business development and more. RIBBA is a non-profit that works to help minority owned businesses in the state. Find more details here. https://ri-bba.org/
Rhode Island Foundation Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund is for non-profits that focus on helping the Black community. Non-profits can get financial help and other support, but the organization needs to be focused on addressing social causes, discrimination, racism, income inequality or other issues that can help the Black community in RI and Providence. Learn more here. https://rifoundation.org/grant/black-philanthropy-bannister-fund-grants
Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board has a number of financial assistance programs, loans, economic development resources, grant money and more for small businesses, including those owned by people of color, women, and veterans. There is the Small Business Assistance Program (SBAC), Loan Funds and more. Learn more about financing here. https://commerceri.com/financing/
Social Enterprise Greenhouse has locations in Providence, Newport and Pawtucket. There will be occasional free microgrants provided, and the organization has other services too, including for women and minority business owners. Additional services include an incubator, small business accelerator, innovation labs and free, pro-bono business coaching from experts. They focus on equal access for all to financial help, business development services and more. Continue reading here. https://segreenhouse.org/
Women’s Club of South County is providing small dollar grants to non-profits. Applicants need to be a non-profit that focuses on topics for women, including education, business start ups, access to health care and more. The club also often has scholarships in RI, and learn more here on the programs. https://www.gfwcri.org/projects-vfqrc
June and July 2023
Black owned businesses can apply for free grants from the RI Power Forward Program. The NBA, NAACP and other groups are partnering together to help black-owned businesses. in Rhode Island. In addition to the free money, there is publicity, marketing and other support. Apply here. https://www.nba.com/celtics/celtics-united/power-forward
Take It Outside grants help small businesses in Rhode Island, with about 50% or so of the money for women, veteran or minority-owned businesses. The funds are offered statewide, and the money will help businesses stay afloat, grow, and recover from past hardships, namely COVID. https://commerceri.com/ri-rebounds/take-it-outside/
Small businesses can get up to $10,000 to improve the air quality of their establishment. The funds are only for HVAC, insultation, and issues have to do with air quality/circulation, etc. The free government grants are part of the Ventilation Support Program, or Ventilation Initiative, in Rhode Island. Get details here. https://commerceri.com/ri-rebounds/small-business-grant-program/
September and October 2022
Latino small business owners in Providence RI can get help raising money from low-cost, or interest free loans. Various agencies including the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Papitto Opportunity Connection, Bank of America, and Navigant Credit Union. Qualified borrowers, including those with limited credit histories, can borrow as much as $5000, based on qualifications. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is processing applications, and learn more here. https://www.rihispanicchamber.org/
July and August 2022
Small Business and Microenterprise Technical Assistance is a program for Providence small businesses. There are a number of free services offered, including help with finding or applying to free grants or loans, marketing and social media development help, accounting, businesses plan development and more. Some of the beneficiaries / winners of the program will be minority, women, LGTBQ+ or veteran owned businesses. There is also a free to use workspace, networking and other support. Learn more. https://pvdrescueplan.com/apply/
June and July 2022
Providence is providing micro-grants as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. Small businesses, start ups, entrepreneurs and other businesses that lost sales over the last few years due to the pandemic can get financial assistance. The free government grants can help pay rent, inventory, marking costs, salaries and other common expenses. Some of the money will be given to veteran, minority, LGTBQ and other disadvantaged businesses, such as those owned by people with a disability. Learn more. https://pvdrescueplan.com/
Rhode Island Rebounds is providing either $5000 or $10,000 grants to small businesses to help them recover from the COVID pandemic. The free government grant program is focusing the funds on businesses that were hit hard by COVID, with some funds being prioritized for women, minority, and veteran owned small businesses. The funds are intended for a small business that was operating during the pandemic, and the grants are for private businesses only – not non-profits. Learn more. https://commerceri.com/RIRebounds/
$5,000 government grants are offered statewide to small companies (under 50 employees) as part of the “Back to Business” program. The funds are first come and first served, with the state of RI focusing the funds on small businesses with employees. The goal is to help people get back to job, with grants given to employers to facilitate it. Priority is for other businesses that receive COVID assistance as well as women and minorities. Apply here. https://backtobusiness.skillsforri.com/
Rhode Island Commerce has expanded the small business grant program. There is no financial help for sole proprietors, gig workers who owned their own business, as well as companies with 50 workers or fewer. Anywhere from $1500 to $15,000 will be provided as a free grant to qualified businesses, including LGBTQ, Black, Latino, and other disadvantaged companies. There is also help for other businesses. find help here. https://commerceri.com/
Restore Rhode Island Grant Program is providing millions of dollars to thousands of small businesses. It is a free grant program. Priority, and funds will be allocated, to both female as well as minority owned and run companies. The program is run in partnership with SCORE. It helps one employee businesses up to companies with 20 workers. Apply here. https://commerceri.com/about-us/restore-ri/
By Jon McNamara