If you own a small business, you know the importance of always having funds available. You can source funds for your small business in different ways, including grants, crowdfunding, or loans. Of all these options, grants are the most sustainable way to get money to elevate your business.

Grants are funds awarded to businesses or individuals who solve a problem or meet the conditions required to get the grant. Unlike other funding sources, one does not need to repay or worry about an interest.  They are usually awarded by foundations, non-profit organizations or the government. Although you have to invest time and effort into applying for a grant and eventually getting it, you can be sure of the benefits it will bring to your business. Small businesses in Africa experience issues like lack of resources and limited capital. Winning a grant is a good way to grow without giving away half of your business profit.

The good thing about grants is that you can find ones that fit the reality of your small business. There are grants for agricultural, financial and even women-based businesses. This blog will look at different grants you should check out and important information you should know before applying for any grant.



 What Do I Need to Know About Grants?

Before you start looking for a grant to support your small business, there are some basic things you need to know. Having this information at your disposal will help you take the right approach and avoid common mistakes. For example, you do not need to repay a grant, but this does not mean you can easily get one. There is always stiff competition; only excellent applications reach the final consideration stage. 

To decide which type of grant is right for your small business, you need to know the types of grants that exist. Grants include:

  • Competitive Funding:

For this type of grant, many entrepreneurs apply for the grant in hopes of being the one that will be selected. There is a strict selection criteria, and the winner is vetted by a team of judges. The entrepreneur who has the best application takes all, no matter how many people apply for the grant. This type is very common and is mostly granted to business owners with innovative ideas.

  • Non-Competitive Grants:

This type of grant is awarded to all applicants who satisfy the requirements of the grant. Rather than one person taking all the money home, different people share the money and use it to support their businesses.

  • Continuation Grants:

Here, the entrepreneur that wins the grant gets into a partnership with the grant awarded so that they can get the grant for the next few years. The grant is not a one-off but something they get as long as they have a relationship with the organisation sponsoring the grant.

  • Grants for Women-Owned Businesses:

As the name suggests, you can only apply for these grants if you are a woman who owns a small business. They exist to empower women and level the playing field for women who want to make a big difference in society with their business ideas.

  • Sector Specific Grants:

Different industries, like manufacturing, technology, and finance, have organisations that give out grants to small businesses. If your small business solves a problem related to these industries, you are more likely to win this type of grant than if you applied for a general grant. 

  • Innovation Focused Grant:

For this type of grant, you must prove that your small business focuses on implementing an innovative idea. It is usually very competitive, and only the most feasible ideas win the grant. A good example of an innovation focused grant is the Hult Prize.


You have to prepare for certain things when you decide your small business is ready for a grant. Some of them include:

  1. A solid business idea
  2. A business plan
  3. Proof of business registration
  4. Financial records of your business
  5. A grant proposal


Writing a grant proposal requires good writing skills, as there are things the awardee wants to see. You can either spend time crafting a good proposal or hire an experienced grant writer. You can click here to get a personalized guide on securing grants for your business.

What Grants Should I Apply To As A Small Business Owner?

Grant Type Eligibility Criteria Amount
Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Grant Innovation- Focused Grant for any type of business -Applicant must be African and be above 18

-Must have a feasible business idea

-Must complete training programme to qualify for the grant

$5000 seed funding
Africa’s Business Heroes Innovation- Focused Grant for any type of business -Applicant must have a registered business

-The business must be at least 3 years old.

-Applicant must have a referral and submit a video introduction

$1.5 million 
African Women Development Fund For women owned businesses Business must have women as the decision makers

Business mjst have existed for at least 3 years and has financial records to prove it

Business must be focused on empowering African women

It varies from $20,000 to $500,000 per year, depending on applications
Greenhouse Tech Grant For businesses in greenhouse technology Business must have been working on a project

The applicant must be able to prove their idea is feasible

Can be up to $ 100k per year
Anzisha Prize Competitive Grant for any type of business The applicant must be between 15 and 22 years of age

They must have started the business

The business must be based in Africa

Up to $100k a year, courses, and specific grand prizes for eligible fellows
Meltwater Entrepreneurial School Of Technology (MEST) Africa Challenge Innovation focused grant for tech startups The business must have existed for less than 3 years

It must have at least 6 months of recurring revenue

It must have at least two cofounders

Up to $50000 for the winner of the challenge
SMEDAN grant Government grants for most types of business The applicant must be at least 18 years old.

The applicant must be Nigerian and have a solid business plan

Can vary as it is a new scheme
Savannah Fund For early-stage tech startups Applicants must have started their company

The business must be based in Sub-Saharan Africa

It can be anywhere from $50000 to $100,000 per year for the startup
She Leads Africa Accelerator Grant For women based businesses that focus on social impact The business must be based in Nigeria

Applicant must be between 18 to 35 years

The business must not have existed for more than 3 years

Successful applicants get 3 months of intensive career support to help them scale and get funding from the right sources.
Tshikulu Social Investments For Social impact businesses The business must be based in Africa

The business must have started making a profit

Funding varies


  1. Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme

This programme is under the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which gives grants to entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. Businesses in any industry can win this grant worth $5,000 as long as they can prove that the funding will lead to the growth of the business. So far, this programme has funded over 17,000 entrepreneurs, created multiple businesses, and invested millions of dollars in small businesses.

 It is one of the most popular grant programmes, and it has promoted the dream of African entrepreneurs for many years. Before applicants can win a grant in this pprogramme,they have to go through a training program to ensure they are eligible for the grant. 1000 applicants are picked for the programme before the final selection of the grant awardee.


Eligibility Conditions:

  • The business must be established by an African who is based in Africa
  • The business owner must be at least 18 years old and is not considered a minor in their country of residence
  • They must have the legal right to work in the African country where their business is located. 
  • The applicant must complete their application through the TEF hub to be eligible for the programme
  • The business must be registered and should have commenced operations within the past 3 years
  • It must be a for-profit business and should be the original idea of the entrepreneur(s) making the submission
  • The applicant must have no other relations with companies affiliated with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.


Application Process:

  • Applicants must complete the training programme to be eligible for the grant
  • Applications open on the 1st of January and close on the 1st of March every year
  • Once you apply, make sure you check your email regularly to avoid missing out on any updates.
  • Applicants should submit a feasible business plan to be considered for the programme
  • If offered a place in the programme, the candidate should respond within 5 working days.

To apply for this programme, visit https://tefconnect.com/ and follow the instructions carefully.


   2. Africa’s Business Heroes:

Created by Chinese mogul Jack Ma, this program aims to promote economic development in Africa by supporting small business owners. The Jack Ma Foundation uses this grant as a philanthropic way to fund ideas that will bring value to society.

Their goal is to finance at least 100 business ideas and train the owners on ways to sustain their businesses for longevity. Every year, 10 people are selected for the final stage and compete for a whopping sum of 1.5 million dollars to grow their business.


Eligibility Criteria:

  • The applicant must be an African whose business is legally registered in their country of residence
  • They must be the founder or co-founder of the business
  • The business must have been existing for at least 3 years and have financial records for these years. 
  • The applicant must have a referral from an individual who can vouch for them


Application Process:

  • Applicants are required to answer questions about themselves and their business
  • They must provide a referral to be able to apply for the program
  • They need a strong business proposal to make it to the next stage
  • As an applicant, you should submit a video in which a customer of your business explains why they love your product/ service
  • Applicants must submit a valid identification card, like a voters card or international passport

To start, visit https://africabusinessheroes.org/ , create an account, and fill out the application. You would then wait for the next stage, which is an interview. Passing the interview stage would mean proceeding to the semi-final stage before you can move to the final stage with 9 other candidates. 


  3. African Women Development Fund

The African Women’s Development Fund gives grants to small businesses owned by African women so that they can make the best of their ideas. It has offered over $80 million worth of funding since 2001 to female-owned businesses all over Africa, thereby paving the way for economic equality of genders. 

To qualify for this grant, the business must focus on solving critical issues affecting African girls and women. There are 3 types of grants under this fund: Ananse, Pamoja and Yalla. They give funds ranging from $ 20,000 to $ 500,000 per year, depending on the kind of applications they receive.  Applications open in the middle of the year and applicants can expect a reply by the end of the year.


Eligibility Criteria: 

  • The business must be owned by a woman or have at least 70% of the board or staff made up of women or non-binary people
  • The business must have been registered for at least three years
  • The business must solve an issue women in Africa face
  • The business must submit the financial records of the last year
  • The business must be registered in an African country

Application Process: 

  • Applicants can apply for up to 50% of their verified income for the last year
  • They must submit a proposal that shows how their business contributes towards social equality and justice for African women
  • Applicants must complete the process online

Applications begin later this year. To start preparing, click on https://awdf.org/, create an account and get your application ready


   4. Greenhouse Tech Grants:

This grant is given to businesses that are based in the agricultural tech industry and need support to scale their businesses. To qualify for this grant, your business must be African and have a project that the network can support. Applicants can receive up to $100,000 per year.


Eligibility Criteria:

  • The technology startup must be based in Africa
  • It must have a member who is good at the technical aspects of the business
  • The proposed project must support the adoption and commercialisation of technologies
  • Applicants must prove that their project can lower the costs of operation, lower environmental damage and improve the greenhouse project
  • Applicants must have started developing the project


Application process:

To apply for this grant, visit https://greenhousetechnetwork.ca/apply-now/ , create an account, and follow the instructions. Make sure you have your project and grant proposal ready.


    5. Anzisha Prize:

This fellowship was created to encourage young African entrepreneurs who have created a solid business. Winners can win up to $50000 and hands-on support for their business. For over 10 years, they have supported entrepreneurs and provided different resources to help them scale their businesses.

This grant gives out 4 grand prizes to its winners: The Job Creation Prize, the Revenue Creation Prize, the Storytelling Prize, and the Integrating Systems and Processes Prize. After finishing the program, successful applicants will join the Anzisha network.


Eligibility Criteria:

  • Applicants must be between 15 and 22 years old and must have a valid ID to prove this.
  • They must be African with a business based in Africa
  • The business must have been established and is generating income
  • Applicants are not restricted by industry
  • The applicant must be one of the founding members of the business. 


Application Process:

Go to the website https://anzishaprize.org/apply/. Download the application guide and read it thoroughly. You should apply before October to ensure you get an equal chance to compete. 


   6. MEST (Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology) Africa Challenge:

This fund is a competition that aims to support African business owners who want to scale their business to the next level. By participating in the competition, they stand a chance to win $50000 worth of equity to fund their business. It focuses on tech startups and also aims to offer community, mentorship, and resources so that the winner of the challenge can keep thriving.


Eligibility Criteria:

  • It must be in the early stages of operation, which means it should have existed for less than 3 years.
  • It must make a minimum of $5000 per month
  • It should have raised a considerable amount of capital and had at least 6 months of recurring revenue
  • It must have at least 2 founding members
  • It must be a registered business


Application process:

  • Applicants should submit a pitch deck
  • Applicants should submit a video pitch of up to 3 minutes, which must be in English
  • They should ensure their business meets all the eligibility criteria

Create an account on https://meltwater.org/ , and apply as soon as possible.



    7. SMEDAN Grant:

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria Grant is focused on helping small businesses grow beyond their initial point of operation. The United States developed the initiative to promote business growth in Africa. 

The conditional grant by this organisation was launched in 2023 to reduce unemployment and improve the nation’s financial health. 


Eligibility Criteria:

  • The applicant must be between 18 to 45 years old.
  • They must have a secondary school leaving certificate, at least
  • The business must not be about gambling, weapons or alcohol
  • Applicants must have valid identification cards
  • The applicant must be Nigerian and possess a solid business plan.


Application Process:

Go to https://smedanregister.ng/ , create an account and begin your application.


   8.  Savannah Fund:



To be funded by this organisation, your business must be an early-stage tech startup based in Africa. They invest funds from $50,000 to $100,000 if the plan is feasible. They have helped entrepreneurs throughout the continent scale their business and make revenue.


Eligibility Criteria: 

  • Applicants must be from sub-Saharan Africa
  • The business must still be in its early stages
  • It must be sustainable enough to profit in the next few years.


Application Process: 

You can send them your business plan through their email at hello@savannah.vc.


  9. She Leads Africa Accelerator Grant:


This accelerator grant is given to female business owners between the ages of 18 to  35 who have a feasible business idea. The grant was started to help these entrepreneurs scale their businesses and keep going despite difficulties. 

Qualifying for this grant means you can access initial funding, the SLA community, mentors, and more business opportunities. It is now known as the High Growth Coaching Program, which spans over three months. Instead of receiving cash, successful applicants get career support and an actionable plan for business growth.


Eligibility Criteria:

  • The applicant must be between 18 to 35 years old
  • The applicant must be a woman who has been running a Nigerian-based business within the past three years
  • The business must be making a social impact
  • They must have received only a little funding.


Application Process: 

Visit the application page at https://sheleadsafrica.org/hgcp/. Fill out the application and wait to be notified of the interview stage. 


  10. Tshikulu Social Investments:

This grant is given to entrepreneurs running social impact businesses. The organisation manages the social funds of organisations like De Rands Beer Fund by using them to fund small businesses. The amount given per grant varies according to the business owner’s needs.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • The entrepreneur must be African
  • The business must have been existing for a while and must have made a profit

Application Process:

Go to https://tshikululu.org.za/apply-for-funding  , and start your application process.  

How Can I Secure a Grant Successfully?

You have to take specific measures to land a grant for your small business. Even in the face of stiff competition, implementing these tips will help you get the grant to scale your business. These tips include:

  • Start planning for the grant application months before the deadline
  • Get your business plan and other important documents ready
  • Research companies that have been funded in the past and how they achieved it
  • Hire a professional grant writer
  • Apply for specific grants, like grants for women-owned businesses, to increase your chances of winning
  • Do not use generic grant templates
  • When writing your grant proposal, make sure that your plans for the funds are extremely specific
  • Always look out for new grants


Keeping all these tips in mind will help you get the grant that will take your business to the next level. Funding is important to a small business, and finding the right grants is a way to stay sustainable without owing any debt to investors. Ready to begin your journey to getting a grant? Let us help you.

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