What small business grants are available to female entrepreneurs?

The government commissioned Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, shows women do not lack the ability or ambition to start a business, but only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female.

It also shows that female-led businesses are 44% of the size of male-led businesses on average in terms of their contribution to the economy, and male-run small and medium-sized enterprises are five times more likely to scale up to £1 million turnover than female-run small and medium-sized enterprises.

One of the key challenges for female entrepreneurs is access to finance.

British Business Bank research in 2019 found that for every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK, all-female founder teams get less than 1p compared to 89p for all-male founder teams.

Efforts are being made to overcome these challenges with grants being one potential solution to closing the funding gap between female and male entrepreneurs.

Read women start-up founders offer insight to aspiring entrepreneurs.

What is a grant?

A grant is business funding you don’t need to pay back, which can make it an attractive form of finance for entrepreneurs.

National and local government organisations, charities, and other non-profit groups usually provide grants.

They are given to help businesses start or grow, and for specific actions such as buying equipment, accessing training, and exporting overseas.

There are also grant schemes explicitly aimed at female entrepreneurs.

Some grant schemes provide 100% of the funding, while others are match-funded, meaning you have to make up a proportion of the money from your own funds.

Hundreds of grants are available, but they can be challenging to obtain.

Applying is often a complex process, and each grant has its own requirements and criteria.

Read our guide on how to get a business start-up government grant.

Where to find grants

Government websites are an excellent place to start when searching for business grants in the UK.

There is a regularly updated list of funding schemes on the gov.uk website, with similar guides for Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish businesses on Business Wales, the Scottish Government and Invest Northern Ireland.

Another potential source for grants is your local council website.

Charities and other non-profit organisations that offer grants include:

Read our guide on support and funding for young entrepreneurs.

There are specific grants currently open for applications or opening soon which may be worth considering. We’ve included a non-exhaustive list below:

Global Fund for Women

This fund provides grants to initiatives and organisations worldwide that support women’s human rights and gender justice.

Applications are open all year.

Women in Innovation Awards

The Women in Innovation programme is an annual funding and business support programme for women in business.

It includes a £50,000 grant plus coaching and mentoring.

The competition usually opens for entries every summer.

Abie Awards

The Abie Awards celebrate the success of women and non-binary technologists and those who support women in technology.

US-based AnitaB.org organises the scheme, but entries are encouraged worldwide.

Each Abie Award winner receives a cash prize.

The amount varies by award and year.

Innovate UK Smart grants

Small and medium-sized enterprises can apply for a share of up to £25m for “game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy”.

Entries for the current round of funding close at 11am on 26 April 2023.

Mansfield District Council business grant schemes

Grants of £2,500 to cover 50% of project costs are available to businesses in Mansfield as part of four schemes.


This programme provides research and development grants of up to £100,000 to cover up to 70% of eligible costs for a small enterprise and up to 60% for a medium enterprise.

Start-up grants in Wales

Match-funded grants are available for start-ups and small businesses in several areas in Wales:

Caerphilly Business Start-up Grant

A grant to cover 50% of eligible project costs up to a maximum of £500.

Neath Port Talbot Start-up Grant

Grants for businesses under 24 months to cover up to 100% of eligible costs with a maximum of £500.

Conwy Business Support Grant

Grants of £200 – £1,500 to cover up to 50% of eligible project costs.

Blaenau Gwent Kick Start Plus Grant

Grants up to £1,000 to cover 50% of eligible costs for businesses aged between six months and three years.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Enterprise Investment Fund

Grant funding of £500 to £10,000 to cover up to 50% of eligible project costs.

Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses include:

Plus free courses on climate and sustainability, teamwork, entrepreneurship, mental health and wellbeing.

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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