Minnesota’s Women Entrepreneurs: Flourishing in a Supportive Business Environment

In Focus: Some schemes, initiatives & grants for women entrepreneurs in Minnesota

#MinnesotaBusiness #WomenEntrepreneurs #EntrepreneurialSupport

Minnesota’s entrepreneurial landscape is blooming, particularly for women-led businesses. In recent years, there has been a notable surge in the number of women entrepreneurs – reflecting a dynamic shift in the state’s business landscape. Minnesota offers a supportive ecosystem with tailored programs, resources, and funding avenues exclusively aimed at nurturing the success of women entrepreneurs.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce spearheads initiatives offering comprehensive support services, ranging from specialized training programs to invaluable networking opportunities. Among the prominent entities contributing to this ecosystem is the Women’s Business Forum of Minnesota, renowned for its provision of mentorship, leadership development, and educational resources tailored to women entrepreneurs.

Moreover, Minnesota boasts a robust venture capital and angel investment community, amplifying the funding prospects for budding startups led by women. With such a conducive environment, Minnesota’s economy presents a fertile ground for women entrepreneurs to not only kickstart their ventures but also to thrive and expand their businesses.

Let us examine some schemes, initiatives and grants for women entrepreneurs in Minnesota.

> WomensNet Offers Amber Grants to Women

What is offered here are – Amber Grants for Women, and businesswomen from Minnesota are eligible and have won this grant.

How does it work? Their judges award three $10,000 Amber Grants every month. If you’re one of $10,000 winners throughout the year, you become instantly eligible to win one of the three year-end $25,000 Amber Grants. So, it anyone wins imagine the impact that $35,000 would have on the business you have started!!


> Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (WeMN)

WeMN is a supportive community where women solopreneurs and business owners can connect, share, develop and grow.

As the only Twin Cities group that focuses exclusively on small woman-owned businesses and solopreneurs, WeMN understands the unique challenges that women entrepreneurs face.

It is through their four pillars of – Connect, Share, Develop and Grow, that they offer networking events, mentoring/development opportunities and monthly programming with women entrepreneurs’ needs in mind – all sensibly priced so that every Minnesota woman entrepreneur can access the benefits.


> Women’s Business Forum of Minnesota (WBFMN)

The Women’s Business Forum of Minnesota (WBFMN) is a non-profit organization that supports and promotes the advancement of women in business.

The WBFMN provides – networking opportunities, educational workshops, and mentorship programs for women entrepreneurs and business leaders. The organization also advocates for policies that support women’s economic empowerment and works to increase the representation of women in leadership roles. The WBFMN is composed of members from various industries, including finance, healthcare, technology, and education, among others.

> WomenVenture

For over four decades, WomenVenture has helped women create and grow sustainable and profitable businesses in Minnesota. Their vision is a world where women-owned businesses are the economic engines that power families, build intergenerational wealth, and sustain our vibrant communities.

WomenVenture helps women entrepreneurs develop the core competencies they need to build successful businesses through in-depth training, access to capital, expert consultation and advice, technology tools, and a community of support. Women small business owners reinvest up to 90% of their income back into their communities and local economies. They believe that investing in women entrepreneurs expands and diversifies the state’s small business economy, providing broad economic resilience that is fundamental to Minnesota’s future.


> Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program

The Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program provides loan capital – for businesses that are owned and operated by minorities, low-income persons, women, veterans and/or persons with disabilities.

The Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program (ELP) supports the growth of businesses owned and operated by minorities, low-income persons, women, veterans and/or persons with disabilities. DEED provides grant funds to a network of nonprofit lenders which use these funds for loans to startup and expanding businesses throughout the state.

The program has additional goals of providing jobs for minority and/or low-income persons, creating and strengthening minority business enterprises, and promoting economic development in low-income areas.


Minnesota Government Agencies
> Saint Paul, Minnesota – Central Certification (CERT) Program

The Central Certification (CERT) Program is a small business certification program that is recognized by – Hennepin County, Ramsey County, the City of Minneapolis and the City of Saint Paul. The CERT Program seeks to promote market growth, increase competitiveness and create jobs among participating businesses, as well as to improve the quality of life for area residents.

The CERT Program certifies small businesses, including small Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (MBE) and small Women-Owned Business Enterprises (WBE).

The CERT Program also certifies Emerging Small Business Enterprises (ESBE), which are a subset of the small business marketplace.


> Minnesota Small Business Administration – MSBA

The Small Business Administration’s Minnesota office provides services including – funding programs, counseling, federal contracting, certifications, and disaster recovery.

They can also connect you to partner organizations, lenders, and other community groups that help small businesses succeed.

The main office in Minneapolis serves all 87 counties across Minnesota.


Minnesota Agencies and Non-profit Organizations
> TeamWomen

TeamWomen is a professional women’s non-profit organization committed to developing future generations of women in leadership. Membership includes women from the C-suite to young professionals who work in a variety of industries including business, corporate, sports, and civic organizations.

They value relationships, community, lifelong learning, mentoring, and an atmosphere of shared empowerment.

> Women’s Business Development Center – WBDC

The WBDC Minnesota office in St. Paul supports and accelerates business development and growth, targeting women and serving all diverse business owners. Coaching and education services include: strategic one-on-one and group business advising, specialized cohort-based curricula and workshops, and digital learning; contract assistance for private sector procurement opportunities, public sector contracting assistance, and WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise) certification; capital- related services including financial education, debt and equity placement, direct lending, and Kiva microlending.

> Minnesota Small Business Development Centers – MSBDC

If you are looking for advice you can trust you can check out the nearest Small Business Development Center on topics including developing a business plan, marketing and research, accounting, access to capital, and more. All advice is available at no cost.

Nine main regional SBDC offices are located in: Bemidji for the Northwest region, Duluth for the Northeast region, Moorhead for the West Central region, Brainerd for the North Central region, St. Cloud for the Central region, Marshall for the Southwest region, Mankato for the South Central region, Rochester for the Southeast region, and Minneapolis for the Twin Cities Metro area.

> Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

The Minnesota Chamber offers business services – solutions to your business challenges – at competitive costs and with very simple steps.
– One-on-one business assistance, assessing challenges and offering solutions for your business.
– Sustainability consulting to reduce your energy usage and company’s waste and cost.
– Professional association management services, including organizational, communications, advocacy and economic development.
– Economic insights from real businesses and economists.
– One-stop-shop for HR tools.

> National Association of Women Business Owners – NAWBO Minnesota

The National Association of Women Business Owners’ Minnesota Chapter (NAWBO-MN) provides a local avenue for women entrepreneurs to connect with their peers. Women business owners, large and small, join together for regular networking, educational programs, mentorship and support.

NAWBO was founded – to open doors for women entrepreneurs by transforming public policy and leveling the playing field. Representing the issues and concerns of women-owned businesses at the national, state and local levels, NAWBO is in the forefront of advocating on behalf of women business owners and the issues that impact their companies.

> WomenVenture

WomenVenture is a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) lender serving Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Le Sueur, Mille Lacs, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Washington, and Wright Counties in Minnesota and Pierce and St. Croix Counties in Wisconsin.

WomenVenture provides women of all ages, cultures, races, and income levels with the tools and resources to achieve economic success through small business ownership. They offer facilities like:

Training: WomenVenture offers training and support for entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey to help them create profitable, sustainable small businesses.

Lending: WomenVenture’s lending program is designed to support you on your entrepreneurial journey. They focus on your business’s ability to be profitable and sustainable.

Child Care Business Services: WomenVenture provides training programs for every stage of your child care business for families and centers.

Volunteer: WomenVenture volunteers are key to the success of the organization’s clients and provide a community of support throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

Loans from WomenVenture can be used to help start or grow your business. Eligible uses of loan funds include (but are not limited to):

Leasehold improvements; Additions, alterations, remodeling, or renovations to your rented space; Inventory and supplies; Machinery or equipment purchases; Working capital; Debt refinancing; Payroll.


> Women’s Business Alliance

The Women’s Business Alliance (WBA) is a program of the Entrepreneur Fund, and certified Women’s Business Center of the SBA, that provides specialized advising, training, networking and access to capital for women entrepreneurs across 17 counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The WBA is dedicated to supporting women at every stage of their small business journey, as well as providing opportunities for professional growth. Their main features are:

Custom Roadmap: A unique plan for your unique business; you craft a roadmap focused on action and moving your small business forward. 

Connections: Opportunities for women entrepreneurs to connect with experts, mentors, and peers to build their network, support team and knowledge.  

Tools and Knowledge: Entrepreneurs are equipped with simple, functional tools to help you at every stage of business. 

Money: The organization walks you through every step to access small business loans that will help you move towards your goals.

> SCORE Minnesota

Whether you are in the planning stages or are ready to go to the next level, SCORE helps with free mentoring and low-cost training. Volunteers can meet with clients at convenient locations in Southeast Minnesota.

Mentors are available to participate in remote mentoring sessions via phone, email, and video. Register for no-or low-cost business training on a variety of business topics, including marketing, finance, and accounting, management, and others. Also available online are – live webinars, on-demand interactive courses and recorded webinars.

Browse the resource library to get the latest in small business strategies and trends and use the information you find in the library to grow your business knowledge.


Funding – State and Federal Sources
> U.S. Small Business Administration – Funding Resources

The U.S. Small Business Administration helps small businesses get the funding you need. Funding resources include:

Loans: Start or expand your business with loans guaranteed by the SBA.

Investment capital: Find an investor for your business. Investors make both debt and equity investments.

Disaster assistance: Get help after a disaster with low-interest disaster loans.

Surety bonds: Protect your work and your client with an SBA-guaranteed surety bond.

Grants: Look for government grants that help businesses do scientific research and development.

Small Business Loans
> Entrepreneur Fund

Entrepreneur Fund is a non-profit lender that will work to find the best loan to meet the
needs and goals of entrepreneurs.

Loans are prepared and structured in partnership – to help you determine what loan works best for your business. As part of your lending experience, you will also have a business advisor as your ongoing partner to help you reach your business goals.


> 81 Women Grants for Minnesota

What is available here are – grants for women entrepreneurs, seed money to individual women, college grants for women, small business grants for women, enterprise grants and grants for minority women.


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