Tapping into Opportunity: Women Entrepreneurship Thrives in Montana

In Focus: Some Policies, Schemes & Grants for Women Entrepreneurs in Montana

#WomenEntrepreneurship #MontanaBusiness #SmallBusiness #Empowerment #GovernmentPrograms #WBECertification

Montana, known for its vast landscapes and frontier spirit, is also emerging as a beacon for women entrepreneurs. According to a recent 2021 report, Montana holds the top spot among U.S. states to start a small business. The state’s burgeoning tourism industry offers a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures, presenting a unique opportunity to capitalize on its natural beauty and experiences.

Despite the promising landscape, women-owned businesses face distinctive challenges, including limited access to contracts and financing compared to their male counterparts. Recognizing this disparity, the government has rolled out programs tailored to support women entrepreneurs, particularly those with Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certification in Montana.

With over 4.7 million small businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans driving job creation in the last decade, fostering an environment of inclusivity and empowerment is paramount. To stimulate the economy and help disadvantaged small businesses compete, the government is offering special programs to those that get certified in Montana. These government initiatives aim to level the playing field and empower women entrepreneurs to compete and thrive in Montana’s dynamic business ecosystem.

Let us look at some policies, schemes & grants for women entrepreneurs in Montana.

> Montana Women’s Business Center of Prospera

The Montana Women’s Business Center is a program of Prospera Business Network. It is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Established in October 2009, the Montana WBC is one of over 100 business centers across the country. They provide the necessary tools and support to help women establish, grow and sustain businesses throughout the state of Montana.

The Montana WBC focuses on – providing counseling, training, mentoring and networking services to women entrepreneurs and women in business, and is a critical resource to those who are economically or socially disadvantaged. The Montana WBC gives women the opportunity to excel in business and contributes to the growth of economies throughout the state.


> Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC)

The Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) strives to secure economic justice and entrepreneurial opportunities for women by supporting and sustaining a national network of nearly 150 Women’s Business Centers (WBC).

What is relevant is that WBCs help women succeed in business by providing training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities to women entrepreneurs each year.


> National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)

NAWBO is the only dues-based organization that represents the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries; with chapters across the country. With far-reaching clout and impact, NAWBO is a one-stop resource, which propels women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.

There’s nothing like the understanding, encouragement, ideas and celebration a community of women business owners can offer and support you on your entrepreneurial journey – whether you are just starting out or are years or decades into it. All this you get at NAWBO, so do join this community.


> Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)

The mission of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) is clear. WIPP is a national non-partisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs, and strengthening their impact on the nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations.

WIPP Non-partisan Policy Statement

WIPP educates and advocates on behalf of women-owned businesses. Since its inception in June 2001, WIPP has reviewed, provided input, and taken specific positions on many economic issues and policies which affect the bottom line of their membership. The issues cover – a broad range of current legislation and/or policies such as – affordable health care, leveling the playing field for women-owned businesses, opening up federal procurement policies for women-owned businesses, the implementation of well-established federal law which seeks to encourage women in the marketplace, tax policies, energy, telecom etc.

WIPP is a national non-partisan public policy organization advocating on behalf of women business owners.


> Montana Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Montana Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) certified Business Consultants offer free one-on-one business advise to entrepreneurs statewide. Services include disaster, small business resources, business tools, business licensing, start-up guides, an online classroom, and trainings and workshops. Each local SBDC office offers the following services for start-ups, existing, and expanding businesses:

  • Financial Analysis
  • Business Planning
  • Operations Assistance
  • Marketing and Social Media Assistance
  • Training and Workshops
  • Entrepreneurial Development
  • Loan Packaging Assistance
  • Succession Planning


> Montana Small Business Administration (SBA)

The Montana district office of Small Business Administration (SBA) 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.

Both the main office in Helena and the office in Billings serve all 56 counties in Montana.


> ROCK 31

From idea to market, ROCK31 helps entrepreneurs start up and scale up. What they can do is – connect you with peers, mentors, funding opportunities, and information you’ll need to find success in this crowded marketplace. This vibrant entrepreneur community can take advantage of a co-working space, trainings, business counseling, and a mentor network.

With help from Rock31, entrepreneurs can turn great ideas into a real business and then grow it into a vibrant enterprise. Expert help is available for ideation, target market development, messaging and market validation, commercialization, market validation, scale and exit.


> U.S. Small Business Administration ( SBA) – Funding Sources

The U.S. Small Business Administration helps small businesses to get the funding they 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
  • Grants – Look for government grants that help businesses do scientific research
    and development.


> Bozeman Professional Women – Small Business and Educational Grants

Bozeman Professional Women awards small business and educational grants to women for business or educational development in the state of Montana. The financial grants are intended to enable women in the development of their businesses or education.

The grants are available to Montana women who require support to purchase equipment or other materials for business start-up, development, or to further develop their education.


> Trainings & Workshops

The Montana SBDC Network offers a wide variety of trainings and workshops for small businesses in all phases of business development, from start-ups to those looking at growth and expansion. Check out this link to get full information.


> REAL Women Co-Lab

Here it is a case of exploring solutions for rural America. Rural Entrepreneurship & Leadership for Women Co-Lab (REAL Women Co-Lab) focuses on economic and individual impact solutions for rural America.

What can REAL Women Co-Lab do? Through a generous grant from Wells Fargo, REAL Women Co-Lab prototypes programs, trains and partners with funders, and researches new models for aspiring and current women business owners.

You can connect this group, if you fall into any of these situations: if you have (or want to start) a business, live in rural America, and want to join a pilot program; if you are fund entrepreneurs/businesses owners and want to ensure your portfolios are not unintentionally omitting women and their potential returns for your organizations and community or if you want to conduct research in this space or want to fund research in this space.


> 77 Women Grants for Montana

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. Here are 77 grants spelled out for you to pick from.


> AccelerateMT Programs

Accelerate Montana offers a broad range of programs, to benefit businesses and individuals alike – regardless of where you live or work in Montana. To meet their mission of accelerating economic potential, their teams who can support, guide, and consult with you on your business or help guide you in your career.

Through the broad range of the programs, they try to help build business capacity and support Montana’s economic development. They can expertly guide entrepreneurs through the start-up of a business: from launch phase to its early stages as a young company.

Their range of programs are designed to support Montana’s small businesses in addition to programs that can enable businesses (small or large) to access new markets overseas or ensure that their company is considered for state or federal contracting. And their team can connect businesses to the basic advice, tools and skills that every business needs to function.

Finally, the courses offered through their Rapid Training Program are designed to help individuals get the skills they need to build jobs or careers in Montana’s fastest-growing and largest industry sectors of construction, manufacturing, technology, healthcare, film and media. These courses are designed to help build the skills that industries really need. Courses are offered across the state through their partners and are designed to be fast, flexible, affordable and precisely what workers and companies need.


> Rural Innovation Initiative

Accelerate Montana’s Rural Innovation Initiative (A.M.R.I.I.) provides entrepreneurial coaching, innovation, and venture creation support for rural and indigenous owned start-ups across Montana.

They help develop, support, and deliver programming that has been proven successful in high-growth situations. The vision of AMRII is – a Montana in which rural innovators have the support, training, and access to networks and resources needed to flourish in global market.


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