These Funding Programs for BIPOC and Women Could Help Get Your Business Through COVID

Most dance businesses are suffering right now. But those owned by BIPOC and women, who have historically been denied access to capital, have been left especially vulnerable by the pandemic. Thankfully, support exists—and we rounded up some of the most promising programs.

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According to recent research from LendingTree, 24 to 40 percent of small businesses in the nation’s largest 50 metro areas are in danger of shutting down if business doesn’t soon return to normal.

For dance studios, which are largely grouped into final reopening stages, and for the many dance businesses, like retailers, who depend on the fact that dance is happening, this is a frightening statistic.

While it’s a difficult and tenuous time for most dance businesses, women and BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) have historically been denied access to capital, leaving them especially vulnerable. Women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., yet less than 5 percent of small-business lending—only $1 in every $23—goes to women. The challenges are greater still for women of color. According to the Kauffman Foundation, new Black-owned businesses start with almost three times less in terms of overall capital compared with new white-owned businesses, and Black entrepreneurs’ loan requests are three times less likely to be approved than those of white entrepreneurs.

Thankfully, support is out there—some programs especially designated for businesses owned by BIPOC and women. Here are some of the most promising:

ShopKeep R.I.S.E. (Reinvesting In Small-Business Equality)

Point-of-sale system ShopKeep has created an evergreen fund of $250,000 that it provides to minority-owned small businesses on a rolling basis. Awardees must be using ShopKeep as their sole point of sale, but if you’re not a customer already, you can still apply and switch if your business is approved. ShopKeep also takes your pre- and post-COVID revenue into account when determining eligibility. 

If your business is approved, you’ll receive up to $10,000 in your business bank account as a no-fee, no-interest cash advance. Each day, 11 percent of your credit card sales will automatically go toward the cash advance, until the total amount of the advance has been reached. 

Minority Business Development Agency

The MBDA is a one-stop place for an array of valuable information on grants, loans and alternative financing. You can also get information on loan packaging, private equity and venture capital sourcing. The MBDA recently announced that it is pumping $10 million in CARES Act funding to the network of MBDA Business Centers and national minority chambers of commerce. The grants will be used for education, training and advising small and minority business enterprises in their recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.  

The Girlboss Foundation

The Girlboss Foundation has given away more than $130,000 in grants to women entrepreneurs in the arts. Each grant winner receives $15,000 in project funding, plus features on the Girlboss website, newsletter and social media platforms. Grants are awarded biannually. In the application, you’ll need to include a plan for how you will use the money, how it will boost your business and more. The Girlboss website also has links to other grant programs.

Hello Alice

Hello Alice offers expert small business advice, mentorship opportunities and grants between $50,000 and $10,000 aimed at supporting entrepreneurs with limited access to capital. Applications are due September 25. Emergency COVID grants of $10,000 are also available on a rolling basis.  

The Wisdom Fund

The Wisdom Fund combines money from accredited investors—institutions, funds, foundations, family offices and individuals—into business loans for low- to moderate-income women and women of color. The loans are provided by nonprofit community lenders, such as CDC Small Business Finance and TruFund Financial Services.

Small Business Funding

Small Business Funding provides loans for expansion, hiring, repairs, equipment or day-to-day operations, and can connect you with additional lenders. They offer a variety of loan options, like a merchant cash advance, an asset-based loan or an unsecured business loan.

For more small-business grant opportunities, visit the Small Business Administration’s website.

Sheryl Nance-Nash is a New York–based freelance writer specializing in personal finance, business, and travel/lifestyle.