Minority, veteran, immigrant, LGBTQ and female owned small businesses in Massachusetts can get free financial help, coaching, and other support. Find how and where to get financial assistance (grants or loans) as well as how to apply near you below. There are funds from charities, corporations, non-profits, as well as the state of Massachusetts and federal government.
Any small business, startup company, entrepreneur, or sole-proprietor can apply. However, each of the lenders, and their programs, will be allocated some of the funds to disadvantaged businesses. This may be a Black owned company in Massachusetts or a Latino business. Free grants may also be for LGBTQ companies, veterans, the disabled, and other minority (or disadvantaged) businesses.
Any funds will often be combined with other assistance. As the lender or small business grant programs in Massachusetts often give clients free business advice, such as coaching, marketing assistance, website development, counseling and more.
Small business loans or free grants for females or minorities in Massachusetts
The list of resources below is updated daily with assistance programs for MWBE and BIPOC owned businesses (black, Indigenous and people of color). While most of the grants and low cost loans for minority or female businesses are for businesses located in the major cities such as Boston, Cambridge, or Springfield, assistance is offered statewide as well.
Year round resources for financial help, free grants, and loans in Massachusetts
Boston Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative helps small businesses, start ups, and entrepreneurs, with a focus on women and businesses owned by people of color. The assistance programs include interest free microloans from KIVA, Bootcamps, Free Business Advisory services, help developing or enhancing business plans and so much more. Get details on the non-profit here. https://uptimacoop.com/boston
Somerville area immigrants who are interested in starting a restaurant or food type business can get assistance from the Nibble Entrepreneurship Program (NEP). The free program helps lower income immigrant entrepreneurs “test” a restaurant concept. There is free mentoring, networking services, information on applying for government grants or low cost loans, cooking and tasting classes and so much more. Learn more on NEP here https://nibblesomerville.com/culinary-entrepreneurship
The Massachusetts Community Development Finance Corporation helps fund small businesses across the state. They work with banks, credit unions, and other lenders to help small businesses as well as start ups get the capital they need. There is also dedicated assistance for veteran, female owned, and minorities, but any small to mid-sized company can contact the office for support. They also help with micro-lending. Find details here. http://www.massmac.org/newsline/0708/article15.htm
Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, which is based in Springfield but covers the western part of the state (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire Counties), is a non-profit that helps women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. Several programs are offered. They run a Leadership Development Program, which is peer to peer counseling and mentoring. There are some free grant programs, based on donations to the Women’s Fund. There are emergency grants, a Women’s Initiative, and other resources from the non-profit. Get more details here. https://www.mywomensfund.org/
April and May 2022
Worcester area businesses can apply for interest free, or low cost loans, from the North Central Massachusetts Development Corp. The money is for existing businesses, and each company (including veteran, those owned by people of color or women) needs to have been operating for a year or more. The goal is to ensure small businesses in the area have the funds they need to grow and create jobs. Continue reading. https://www.northcentralmass.com/affilates/north-central-massachusetts-development-corporation/
Gardner is providing grants as well as low cost loans to businesses that were hit hard by the pandemic, such as restaurants, serve companies, bars, hotels and the like. Either $25,000 or $30,000 is given to businesses with 75 employees or less, and the financial aid is in the form of a grant. Businesses in the city that went to improve their property, such as new signage, can get low cost and/or interest free loans. Apply at the Economic Development Office, and get more details here. https://www.gardner-ma.gov/468/Economic-Development
Beverley Massachusetts businesses can receive up to $50,000 (in the form of a free grant). The money is part of the federal government American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The business needs to be independently owned and operates, have under 50 employees, or have been negatively impacted by COVID pandemic. A focus is on leisure, hospitality, and service companies, including BIPOC and MWBE. Read more. https://www.beverlyma.gov/846/American-Rescue-Plan-Act-ARPA
Veteran, minority, and women owned businesses can apply for free government grants from the state of Massachusetts. Up to $75 million will be provided throughout the state using American Rescue Plan funds. The funds are for small businesses with under $2.5 million in revenue and less than 40 employees (among other criteria). The financial help from the government and intended to help those MWBE underserved businesses, and learn more on the grants here. https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/
City of Taunton’s Small Business STEP UP grant program is for local companies in the city, with many MWBE businesses assisted. The Office of Economic and Community Development is focusing the assistance on small technology companies with under 10 employees. There is also help with developing social media campaigns, setting up websites and ecommerce operations as well as other support. Call the Office of Economic and Community Development at 508-821-1030 for details.
November and December 2021
MM Catalyst Fund from Mass Mutual is providing funds to black owned businesses located in Boston. The company needs to be operating and of a certain scale. Approved companies may be given hundreds of thousands of dollars. Early state and start-up companies can apply, but the criteria are stricter. Find details here on the financial aid program. https://www.massmutual.com/lp/catalyst
July and August 2021
The City of Worcester offers the small business grant program. The financial aid is in effect a forgivable loan, with some funds focused on minority, women, and immigrant owned companies. The funds are for businesses that (1) locate or (2) expand in the city of Worcester. The free government grants can help pay for furniture, relocating, opening an office, construction as well as other costs. Learn more. http://www.worcesterma.gov/business-community-development/financial-assistance/small-business-grant-program
April and May 2021
Up to $15,000 grants are being offered as part of the Boston Contracting Opportunity Fund. The goal is to help minority and disadvantaged businesses (veterans, LGBTQ, veteran, Black, Latino, women, etc.) get the support they need so they can handle government work. The capital can help them with equipment, operating expenses, inventory, salaries and other up front bills so a minority or women owned company can bid on state, city of Boston, or County work. Read more. https://www.boston.gov/departments/economic-development/boston-contracting-opportunity-fund
March and April 2021
The City of Pittsfield is using CARES funds to pay for free grants for small businesses. It is part of COVID assistance programs to help the small businesses, including female and minority owned, get back on track. Or to “keep their doors” open. Another focus is on low income business owners or those in the city. Grants can also help microenterprises as well, and that being very small companies. Learn more: https://cityofpittsfield.org/covid-19_small_business_recovery_second_round_grants/index.php
February and March 2021
Small Black Owned Businesses (under 25 employees) can apply for grants from the Vistaprint, NAACP and the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation. Not only will financial help be offered, but their is free marketing, design help, accounting and other support services. The assistance is part of the Power Forward Small Business Grant Program. Funds are offered in both Massachusetts, in the city of Boston, as well as across New England. Apply here: https://app.helloalice.com/communities/naacp/applications/power-forward-small-business-grant?modal=true
Non-profits that give back to the community, and that are located in the counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, or Hampshire counties, can apply for grants from the Women’s Fund. The applicants need to have a focus on helping women and/or children in the region, and as noted the applicant needs to also be a non-profit organization. Get more information here. https://www.mywomensfund.org/
Round 2 of PPP loans are available. This is a federal government, and state of Massachusetts, financial assistance programs for small to mid-sized businesses that have been impacted by the COVID pandemic. The loans (which may be forgiven) can pay for payroll, rent, inventory, safety equipment, and other expenses. Learn more on the program here. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/small-business-advisory-paycheck-protection-program
Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation is issuing more financial relief from the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program. The goal is to help businesses impacted by the COVID pandemic. Working with local banks, community lenders, and charities, funds assist minority, Asian, women, veteran and disadvantaged businesses (as a priority). Mass Growth Capital also gives other support, such as microloans, diversity services, technical grants and other programs. Read more. https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/
The City of Boston is paying out over $6 million in grant funds to small businesses that have been impacted by COVID. The money is going to help businesses pay their rent and there are also free grants for restaurants. In addition, some of the funds will also go to immigrant, minority, and women owned businesses that operate in the city. There are also webinars, counseling, business development workshops as well as other financial assistance programs. Apply here. https://www.boston.gov/news/new-covid-19-relief-funds-available-small-businesses
September – October 2020
Massachusetts Conference for Women and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association as well as Flour Bakery + Cafe are helping 50 minority and female owned restaurants, cafes, bars, and food establishments in Massachusetts. Each of the 50 food businesses can get up to $5000. the Association is processing applications. Learn more. https://www.themassrest.org/
Any small to mid sized business in the state can apply for grants of up to $10,000 from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Cooperation. The funds will assist the disabled, Black, Latino, Minority owned small businesses as well as women or veterans. The LBGTQ+ community in Massachusetts is also given priority. Free government grants can pay for inventory, rent, mortgages, inventory, and other costs. Or use the MGCC grants for working capital. Apply here. https://massgcc.submittable.com/submit
Very small business owners in Essex County as well as the city of Manchester can get financial help from CARES program grants. The free government assistance program will help startups as well as small businesses with 4 or fewer employees. Priority is for Black, Latino, Female, as well as minority owned companies. Various bills and operating expenses can be paid. Dial 617.523.6262 for details or applications.
By Jon McNamara