Find a recent, updated list of loans as well as free grant programs in South Carolina that will give priority to women as well as minority owned businesses. There are funds available, as well as free counseling or mentoring services, for Black owned companies, Latino businesses, LGBTQ organizations, veterans, women owned businesses as well as other disadvantaged and minority groups. Each and ever day, week, and/or month there are programs targeted at small to mid sized minority or women owned business that operate in South Carolina., including in Charleston, Greenville, Columbia and other cities. Find the latest programs below.
Small business assistance is provided by corporations, the state of South Carolina or the federal government, credit unions, banks, charities, and other lenders. There may be zero percent interest loans or forgivable loans. Grant programs may also provide the funds that veteran, Latino, or women owned businesses need to grow or succeed. Not only may financial assistance be provided, but there is also generally other assistance such as legal support, help with marketing/advertising, management training, mentoring, tax advice and more for MWBE, Veteran, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) owned businesses.
Any entrepreneur, a small to mid sized businesses owner or start up company in South Carolina can apply. However each of the organizations or lender has designated a certain amount of funding, as well as other support, for women or minority owned companies. This means that women, Black owned companies, Asians, Latinos, veterans and others either (1) get priority or (2) have a certain amount of funding allocated to their businesses. Learn more below.
Loans and free grants for minority or women businesses in South Carolina
This list below is updated daily. There is generally a short window of time to apply. Therefore it is strongly recommended that any interested minority owned or run company, or a woman owned business, should apply right away. As the funding is always favorable and the assistance goes quickly.
Year round, ongoing financial assistance, free grant, business coaching, and loan programs
Aiken Business Coalition Entrepreneurship Program helps small businesses grow and/or get started. The ABCE is offered in partnership with the Aiken County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other local businesses. There is information on grants and loans as well as other support around Bookkeeping & Record keeping, Credit Essentials, branding and more. Find details here. https://www.cityofaikensc.gov/#businesses
Charleston SC has a dedicated office that helps MWBE companies. There is assistance with getting grants or other capital, including loans. Or find business opportunities such as contracting with the city or certification. There is free counseling, training programs, help starting a business and more from the Minority abd Women-Owned Business Enterprise Office in Charleston. Read more here. https://www.charleston-sc.gov/127/Minority-Women-Owned-Business-Enterprise
The City of Charleston has an organization that focuses on supporting minority as well as women owned businesses. There is an group known as The Minority Business Enterprise Advisory. The organization provides information on applying for financial assistance including free government grants or SBA loans, business development workshops, mentoring resources, business plan development and more. Find details on the female, Asian, Black, Veteran and minority organization here. https://www.charleston-sc.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=829
CommunityWorks operates across South Carolina. They are a non-profit, CDFI that provides a number of assistance programs to underserved small businesses, including women, LGTBQ, veteran and minority-owned. There are low cost and/or interest free loans, free coaching programs, business plan development and more. They also operate a Women’s Business Center in Greenville and provide referrals and whatever support the business needs. Learn more on CommunityWorks in SC here. https://communityworkscarolina.org/
MEDI, or the Greenville SC based Minority Economic Development Institute, helps minority, Black or Hispanic businesses and other disadvantaged companies. There are free workshops around education or starting a business. Or learn about applying for grants or interest free or bank loans and raising ,MEDI offers a number of programs statewide Learn more here. http://www.mediigreenville.org/services.php
Minority Business Accelerator is offered in Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville SC. It is a multi-faceted program launched in partnership with Interise StreetWise ‘MBA’. MWBE and BIPOC as well as veteran owned businesses can get free coaching, referrals to financing (both free grants or loans), training and other assistance. Select a city for information. Charleston area – www.charlestonchamber.org; Columbia area – https://www.columbiachamber.com/; Greenville area – http://greenvillechamber.org/
South Carolina Small Business Center (SMSBC) has a number of assistance programs for small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. There are additional resources for MWBE as well as a Veterans Business Program (VBP) for former service member. The staff at SMSBC can help with everything from business plan development to applications to free government grants, market research, raising capital, online marketing and more. Free mentoring is also offered to clients, including women, minorities, and veterans. Find details on SMSBC here. https://www.scsbdc.com
South Carolina Community Loan Fund helps small businesses in low-income communities as well as those that lack access to capital. They are a non-profit CDFI that focuses its programs on LGTBQ+, veteran, minority and women-owned businesses. Get low-interest or 0% loans or enroll into business workshops. There is technical help, one on one coaching from loan officers and more. Offices are in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville. Continue reading here. https://sccommunityloanfund.org/
Women’s Business Center of Columbia SC offers a number of programs. There are networking events, information on applying to micro-loans and government free grants, coaching, use of a business center and more. They help women owned companies (Black, Latino, White, Asian, etc.) or any race. https://www.columbiasc.edu/community/womens-business-center
May and June 2023
Nonprofits that focus on women’s issues. and that are based in Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marlboro, Marion or Williamsburg Counties SC, can apply for grants from Women in Philanthropy. A major focus is on non-profit that help women that are recovering from DV. The free grants are also part of the Giving Circle Fund of Eastern Carolina Community Foundation, and apply here. https://www.easterncarolinacf.org/women-in-philanthropy/
March and April 2023
United Way of Aiken County’s Women United is providing free grant money to non-profits that focus on various causes. The non-profits can use the grant money to help women, minorities, the disadvantaged and low-income among others with social causes, economic empowerment needs, educational programs and similar issues. Learn about the Aiken County program here. https://www.uwaiken.org/united-way-women-united
Spartanburg County SC small and minority business program will provide free grant money to minority / Black owned businesses, with a focus on businesses in downtown Spartanburg. It is an accelerator, with grants, mentoring, and other support offered in partnership with Spark Center SC, Spartanburg Area Small Business Development Center (SBDC), as well as local colleges and universities. The city will help them get capital, mentoring and more. Continue reading https://www.cityofspartanburg.org/community-services/minority-business-development
Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester County minority or women owned businesses can apply to SCORE for a grant. There will be “winners” selected from a Pitch content, with 5 different MWBE businesses receiving anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. SCORE also offers free online seminars, mentoring, workshops and other assistance programs too. Apply here. https://www.score.org/charlestonsc/business-pitch-competition
October and November 2022
Small Business Credit Initiative from the federal government, and offered in SC, is a loan program for minority owned businesses. The applications and funds will be disbursed by the South Carolina’s Jobs Economic Development Authority, with money used to help small minority owned businesses grow and hire workers. A total of up to $50 million will be disbursed in the loans, and the money is part of the U.S. Department of Treasury. Read more on the low-cost MWBE loans in South Carolina here. https://scjeda.com/programs/state-small-business-credit-initiative-program/
July and August 2022
$20,000 grants are offered in Bluffton as part of the American Rescue Plan. The funds will help small businesses recover from the COVID pandemic. Priority is for service type businesses as well as those owned by MWBE or veterans. The money can help pay for salaries, inventory, and other business operating expenses. Apply here. https://www.donryancenter.com/arpa-intro-page
October and November 2021
Greenville Women Giving (GWG) is providing several grants to non-profits only. Funds can go to non-profits located in Greenville County in the Arts, Education, Environment, Health, or Human Services, with MWBE non-profits given priority. Each applicant can be given a free grant of up to $100,000. The financial aid can help pay any number of expenses such as Capital improvements, expansion, and more. Non-profits can apply here. https://www.greenvillewomengiving.org/grants/
September and October 2021
SCORE SC Lowcountry, which includes areas such as Hilton Head, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper County, is offering minority owned businesses grants ranging from $500 to $2,000. The financial assistance is offering in partnership with local and national banks, including Wells Fargo. SCORE also helps with other needs including mentoring, business development, information on how to raise other capital from investors or loans, and more. Apply here. https://sclowcountry.score.org/lowcountry-minority-business-grants
August and September 2021
Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley and Williamsburg County minority or women owned businesses (MWBE) can apply for free grants from SCORE and Truist. The funds are intended to help a business (1) keep employees or hire new ones; (2) start a company; or (3) meet other emergency needs. The grant program is combined with free coaching from SCORE mentors, business education, mentoring, and ongoing support. Apply here. https://charlestonsc.score.org/minority-and-women%E2%80%99s-small-business-initiative
October 2020 and November 2020
South Carolina CARES Act grant program, also known as the Minority and Small Business Relief Grant, is for minority owned businesses impacted by COVID. There are free government grants for black, Latino, veteran, Asian, and other disadvantaged businesses. Qualified applicants can get anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000, with a focus on customer-facing, service industries such as restaurants, travel industries, and others. The business must have been started in 2019 and meet other qualifications. The Minority and Small Business Relief Grant is also partnering with non-profits such as SCORE to give advice. Apply here. https://accelerate.sc.gov/cares-act/applying-sc-cares-act-funds
Charleston, LDC will be issuing hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. A focus is on businesses impacted by COVID, and the assistance program is known as Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Non-profits as well as for-profit businesses can apply, including minority, veteran, and women owned companies. the interest rate on the loans will be 4%. Use the money for hiring, working capital, and other bills. Apply here firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greenville County has $5 million dollars to issue to Minority Small Businesses. Applicants need to be small businesses that are at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. https://www.greenvillecounty.org/CARES.aspx
Duke Energy, S.C. Chamber open small business mentorship grant. The S.C. Chamber is partnering with the Duke Energy Foundation to administer this program focused on helping small and minority owned businesses in the state. Assistance includes six months of mentoring from experienced professionals from the marketing, legal support, advocacy training, governance, sustainability, finance and tax fields, as well as a $1,000 free microgrant. https://gsabusiness.com/news/energy/79023/
By Jon McNamara