Grants represent free money that doesn’t have to be repaid, and very few are available from the government. With one exception. This one is offered every year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts an annual competition for businesses who develop a marketable product or service that positively affects women’s lives.

The awards

Annual InnovateHER Challenge awards the top three national finalists with $40,000, $20,000 and $10,000, respectively. Participants must first enter and win a local InnovateHER Challenge and can then advance to the national semifinal round. Host locations are across the U.S. and can be located on the SBA web site at

Who can enter

Individual business owners, corporations, and private entities can enter as long as they are at least 18 years old. They must be citizens of the U.S. with businesses in the U.S. There are three criteria for each business solution:


  • Has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families
  • Has the potential for commercialization
  • Fills a need in the marketplace

When to apply

Applications begin each year in August and end in December. For information on how to apply can be found at