Charities, non-profits, banks and corporations provide free grants and/or low cost loans to women, minority, LGBTQ, veteran, and disadvantaged businesses in Washington DC. There is financial help provided as well as free coaching, counseling, networking, mentoring as well as other guidance given. Find where to get assistance (in the form of grants or loans) as well as small business help in the District of Columbia below.
The financial aid, as well as other small business services, are aimed at (1) minority as well as female entrepreneurs as well as (2) MWBE or BIPOC small businesses. The goal is to either help someone start or grow a business. Whether it is financial help, or assistance with marketing, website development, business operations, raising capital, or something else, the agencies assist.
The list of resources is updated daily with the latest grants and loans. There may be assistance from non-profits, the government or corporations in the region or nationally. Anyone can apply of course, but the Washington DC programs are committed to allocating some support to disadvantaged veteran, LGBTQ, veteran, and other minority owned businesses.
Find Washington DC grant and loan programs for minorities and women owned businesses
The financial assistance programs listed below are available in the District of Columbia either monthly or year round. Note, they are open to business owners regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity. However there will be some funds, or priority, given to women and/or minority-owned small businesses, including veterans, Asian, Black, and LGBTQ among others. Funds, whether low cost/no coast loans or free grants, can come from banks, government agencies, charities or other services.
Year round free financial assistance programs, grants, loans and coaching programs in the District of Columbia
Interest free loans are offered by the DSLBD’s Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) in partnership with the non-profit Kiva. The CBE program helps minority, disadvantaged, veteran, and women businesses (among others) get the capital they need (in the form of Kiva loans) as well as get certified as a MWBE business. The government affiliated agency offers a number of other services as well. Learn more on the assistance programs offered. https://dslbd.dc.gov/getcertified
Women’s Business Center (DC WBC) provides free business services to women owned businesses, including Black, Latina, Asian, and immigrant (among others). There are referrals to micro-loans that may be interest free, one on one mentoring, technical or legal advice, certification program, grant programs, and more. A major focus is on ensuring Black women owned businesses of color get the grant funding and financial aid they need. Read about the center here. https://www.dcwbc.org/
November and December 2023
Keeping It Cool Grant Program is providing $10 to $50K to qualified food businesses (both profit and non-profit) in the DC area. The The Morningstar Foundation is a partner agency. There is also technical help, use of a kitchen, and other support for small restaurants or food businesses, including minority owned. Apply here. https://www.capitalimpact.org/programs/nourish-dc-collaborative/
November and December 2022
The Bridge Fund Grant Program is providing additional free grant money to small businesses to help them recover from the pandemic. The Washington D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development is processing applications. Up to $45,000 can be provided to each qualified business. A major focus is on restaurants, hotels, and places that need financial help to recover from the pandemic. Apply here. https://dmped.dc.gov/page/bridge-fund-
September and October 2022
Women owned or Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, Immigrant or Asian owned businesses can apply for free grants, technology help, advertising credit and more from Comcast RISE. The cable/internet company is providing free grant money to BIPOC (businesses owned by people of color) as well as women owned companies. There is both financial help as well as many other free businesses services to help the small business grow. Read more and apply for Comcast RISE in Washington DC. https://www.comcastrise.com/
June and July 2022
Free $2500 grants, advice, coaching and more is offered to disadvantaged businesses as part of the Ready for Business Fund. Comcast and GSBA are issuing the money for the program as well as administrative support. The financial help can assist Black owned businesses, Indigenous, LGBTQ+ people; and People of Color as well as women. The program is offered across the state of Washington. The grants are aimed at giving existing businesses a “boost” and to help level the playing field as much as possible. Learn more on the $2500 grants here. https://www.thegsba.org/business-resources/ready-for-business
March and April 2022
The Commercial Property Acquisition Fund will help small businesses, in particular minority and disadvantaged companies, buy the property they need for their business. The money can pay for retail outlets, shops, office space, and other real estate costs. It is a free government grant program offered in DC. Learn more. https://dmped.dc.gov/node/1577811
November and December 2021
Food focused industries (grocery stores, restaurants, etc.) can apply for free grants from the Food Access Fund. Millions of dollars are being issues to help the industry set up operations in Wards 7 and 8. Or the free grants can help existing food businesses. A major focus is on disadvantaged, low income neighborhoods in Washington DC area as well as those that are Black, women, veteran, and owned by people of color. Apply here. https://dmped.dc.gov/page/food-access-fund
Year Round and Ongoing Assistance
Kiva loans are offered to startup companies as well as small businesses. The interest rate is 0% – meaning it is the same as a “repayable grant” that needs to be paid back over time. Kiva will focus on minority, veteran, LGBTQ, Black, Asian, female and Latino owned businesses, both in Washington DC and nationwide. The non-profit uses peer to peer as well as crowdfunding to raise money. In total, up to $15,000 can be borrowed. by the minority-women business., all of which is interest free. Apply here or find more details. https://dslbd.dc.gov/DCKivaHub
By Jon McNamara