Funding Insights

Grants and Loans for Small Business start ups 2024 – A comprehensive guide.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on grants and loans for small business start ups. Utilizing grants is an excellent method to kickstart your business without the burden of repayment. Among the notable startup grants in Nigeria are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grants, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) Grant, Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) grants, and United States African Development Foundation (USADF) grant. According to Fundera, a quarter of businesses surveyed by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) face challenges obtaining necessary funding, hindering their growth. This article aims to spotlight and assess prominent startup grants in Nigeria, offering businesses and entrepreneurs valuable opportunities for sustainable growth.

How to get a small business grant

Various organizations provide small business grants to businesses of different types, each with diverse values, missions, and functions. If you’re a new small business owner seeking to apply for startup grants, consider the following key points:

To optimize your search for small business grants, consider the following steps:

1. Industry-Specific Grants:

– Explore grants within your industry, focusing on organizations and research institutions tailored to your particular field. This approach narrows your search and fosters connections with industry figures, potentially opening doors to guidance and investment opportunities.

2. Read Eligibility Requirements:

– Carefully review eligibility requirements for each grant. It’s crucial to avoid investing effort into applications for which you are ineligible. Thoroughly examine the criteria and, if uncertain, reach out to the organization for clarification.

Grants and Loans for Small Business start ups
Grants and Loans for Small Business start ups

3. Alignment with the Organization’s Mission:

– Assess whether your business aligns with the mission of the granting organization. Consider how your business model contributes to their specific goal. If the connection is unclear, explore other grant opportunities with organizations that better match your mission.

4. Clearly Define Grant Usage:

– Clearly outline how you intend to use the grant money. Even if not explicitly specified by the organization, having a well-defined plan demonstrates your preparedness. This clarity aids organizations in understanding how your business aligns with their mission.

3. Emphasize Innovation and Expansion:

– Tailor your pitch to highlight innovation, forward-thinking, and growth potential. Small business grant issuers often favor businesses seen as innovative and poised for expansion. Focus on scaling, any upcoming technologies, and how your business contributes to the organization’s mission.

Top 6 Startup Grants in Nigeria

The list below is a compilation of some of the best startup grants in Nigeria. In no particular order, they include:

  1. The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP)
  2. Diamond Bank BET Program
  3. Shell LiveWIRE
  4. Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) Grant
  5. African Business Heroes (ABH)
  6. African Women Development Fund (AWDF)

Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP)

Over the past decade, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has played a central role in fostering entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial development in Nigeria and across Africa. A notable initiative is the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP), which has provided funding to over 17,000 entrepreneurs, offering more than USD 80 million as seed capital to fuel the establishment and growth of businesses, resulting in the creation of over 400,000 businesses in Africa.

Tony Elumelu stands out as a formidable figure in startup funding and entrepreneurship development in Nigeria and Africa. In a recent development, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has partnered with the European Union to identify, train, mentor, and fund 2,500 young African women entrepreneurs. This collaboration aims to expand the foundation’s entrepreneurial development initiative, emphasizing its commitment to nurturing and empowering the next generation of business leaders on the continent.

Requirement and Eligibility for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program

  • The business should be located in Africa and founded by an African residing in Nigeria or any of the other 53 African countries.
  • The business must have been in operation for a maximum of 5 years, falling within the age range of 0 to 5 years.
  • Applicants must be 18 years and older or above the age considered ‘minors’ in their respective countries.
  • Additionally, applicants should not have any familial ties to members of the Tony Elumelu Foundation or affiliated companies, including Heirs Holding Group and the UBA Group.
  • Grants and Loans for Small Business start ups
    Grants and Loans for Small Business start ups

    SEE MORE: Online Colleges that offer Pell Grants 2024 – Explore online colleges.

How to apply for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program

It is crucial to note that the Tony Elumelu Foundation does not just give out grants. They have a training program for entrepreneurs before they select those eligible for the grants.

To apply for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program, please visit You’d find more information on the registration page.

Diamond Bank BET program

The Diamond Bank Building Entrepreneurs Today (BET) program has been somewhat overlooked by the media compared to other startup grants in Nigeria. However, it recently gained well-deserved visibility when one of the grant recipients was featured on CNN’s African Voices Changemakers.

Annually, Diamond Bank selects 50 entrepreneurs for a rigorous six-month entrepreneurial/business training program. Following this training, five entrepreneurs receive financial grants of 3 million naira each as seed capital for their businesses.

While the number of grant recipients is limited, it’s noteworthy that all 50 entrepreneurs in the program gain valuable insights into entrepreneurship and business strategies, making the initiative a significant resource for building entrepreneurial acumen.

Requirements and eligibility for the Diamond Bank BET program

To qualify for the Diamond Bank BET program startup grant, ensure you meet the following criteria:

1. Be 18 years and above.

2. Legal residency in Nigeria.

3. Business owners must be willing to undergo entrepreneurial training.

4. The business must be operational for a minimum of three months.

5. Applicants must not have participated in any entrepreneurial management program at EDC.

How to apply for the Diamond BET program

To secure the three million grant from the Diamond BET program, visit to apply. Complete the form, craft a 60-second video presenting your business idea, and submit it as your pitch. Successful applicants will receive notifications via email. Good luck!

Shell LiveWIRE

Shell LiveWIRE is a youth enterprise development initiative committed to amplifying prospects for young individuals to actualize their potential through the establishment and expansion of their businesses. These ventures not only contribute to a vibrant economy but also empower communities, cultivating a sense of fulfillment among the youth. LiveWIRE Nigeria, a dedicated initiative under this program, receives support from The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC).

Requirements and eligibility

To be eligible for the Shell LiveWIRE Grant, you are encouraged to apply if you meet the following criteria:

1. Age Requirement: You must be between 18 and 35 years old and reside in the Niger Delta states.

2. Innovative Business Idea: Possess an innovative business idea that you aim to develop and manage.

3. Entrepreneurial Desire: Demonstrate a strong desire to own and effectively manage a business.

4. Educational Background: Hold a University degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) in any discipline.

5. NYSC Completion: Must have completed the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program.

6. Employment Status: Should not be currently engaged in paid employment.

How to apply

To submit your application, follow these steps:

1. Visit the website and register.

2. Click the icon in the top right-hand corner.

3. Choose “Apply” from the menu.

4. Navigate to the Candidate Assessment section.

5. Complete the form with all required details.

6. Note that the form cannot be saved, so ensure you stay on the page until you are confident in completion.

7. Once certain, click “Submit.”

8. It’s recommended to prepare longer answers beforehand for a smoother and faster process.

9. If you meet the requirements, expect an email outlining the next stage.

Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) Grant

The NG-CARES Grant, a collaborative effort between the World Bank and the Federal Government of Nigeria, stands as a vital support system for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched last year, the program, recently extended by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, aims to offer financial assistance to MSMEs, aiding them in navigating the repercussions of the pandemic and facilitating economic recovery. With the World Bank disbursing $750 million in grants, this presents a unique opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs severely impacted by the pandemic.

Requirements and eligibility

To access the NG-CARES grant, ensure you meet the following requirements:

1. Nigerian Citizenship:

– Provide proof of identification like NIN, Voter’s Card, or Driver’s license.

2. Age Criteria:

– Applicants must be between 18 and 40 years old and provide proof of age declaration.

3. Bank Verification:

– Own a Bank Verification Number (BVN) with a bank printout duly stamped by the bank.

4. Business Documentation:

– Provide evidence of business operation.

5. Business Registration:

– Ensure the business is registered with the CAC and present the corresponding proof.

6. Tax Compliance:

– The business should have a Tax Identification Number (TIN).

How to apply

Access the NG-CARES grant by applying through NG-CARES enumerators and agencies situated in your communities, available across all 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Alternatively, application channels include Chiefs, Women Leaders, and other community figures.

Africa Business Heroes (ABH)

The Africa Business Heroes initiative, initiated by the Jack Ma Foundation’s philanthropic efforts in Africa, is committed to empowering local talent. The foundation aims to provide financial grants, comprehensive training programs, and support to 100 exceptional African entrepreneurs. Beyond grants, the initiative seeks to enhance the African entrepreneurial landscape, recognizing and amplifying the impactful efforts of entrepreneurs catalyzing positive change in their communities. Annually, for the next decade, the Africa Business Heroes program will host a competition, with ten chosen “business heroes” competing for the coveted prize of USD 1.5 million in startup grants.

Requirements and eligibility

To be eligible for the Africa Business Heroes (ABH) program, you must meet the following requirements:

1. African-Based Business:

– Your business must be domiciled in any of the 54 countries in Africa.

2. African Identity:

– Applicants must be Africans or have provable African descent.

3. Operational Status:

– Businesses must have progressed beyond the post-idea stage, being fully operational for at least three years with a revenue history spanning three years.

4. Referral:

– A referral is required for application.

5. Marketing Participation:

– Applicants should be willing to engage in marketing activities during the competition.

How to apply

To seek the Jack Ma Foundation’s startup grant initiative, simply visit and create an account. Once the window opens, you’ll receive prompts guiding you on the necessary steps.

Grants and Loans for Small Business start ups
Grants and Loans for Small Business start ups

African Women Development Fund (AWDF)

The African Women Development Fund extends grants and business support to women-led businesses in Africa, demonstrating its commitment to empowering such enterprises. The fund offers three categories of financial grants—General Grants, Kasa!, and Economic Justice Futures—aimed at aiding women entrepreneurs. Since 2001, the African Women’s Development Fund has contributed over $80 million in grants to female-led businesses. For detailed information on each grant program, visit

To qualify for an AWDF grant, applicants should be women CEOs and founders, and their businesses must be dedicated to addressing key challenges faced by women and girls in Africa.

Frequently asked questions on grants and loans for small business start-ups

Certainly! Here are answers corresponding to the frequently asked questions on grants and loans for small business startups:

1. Grants:

What types of grants are available for small business startups?

-There are various grants, including government grants, private foundation grants, and industry-specific grants.

How do I find and apply for grants relevant to my industry?

-Research grant databases, visit government grant portals and check with industry associations. Apply by following the specific guidelines outlined by the grant provider.

What eligibility criteria do grant providers typically have?

-Eligibility criteria vary but may include factors like business size, industry focus, and alignment with the grantor’s mission.

How can I ensure my business idea aligns with the mission of grant issuers?

-Tailor your application to showcase how your business contributes to the grantor’s mission, whether it’s social impact, innovation, or community development.

Do grants cover all startup expenses, or are there restrictions on how the funds can be used?

-Grant restrictions vary, and some may cover specific expenses like equipment, research, or marketing. Carefully review each grant’s terms.

2. Loans:

What types of loans are suitable for small business startups?

-Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, traditional bank loans, and online lenders offer various options for startup loans.

How does my credit score impact my eligibility for a startup loan?

– A higher credit score generally improves your eligibility and may lead to better loan terms. Lenders assess your creditworthiness to gauge risk.

Are there government-backed loan programs for small businesses?

– Yes, the Small Business Administration (SBA) provides government-backed loan programs tailored to different business needs.

How long does it typically take to secure a startup loan, and what’s the application process like?

-The timeline varies, but it often takes several weeks. The application process involves submitting business plans, financial statements, and other required documentation.

Conclusion on Grants and Loans for Small Business start ups.

In conclusion, navigating the landscape of grants and loans for small business startups involves careful consideration and strategic planning. Whether pursuing grants or loans, understanding eligibility criteria, aligning with the mission of providers, and clearly defining the purpose of the funds are crucial steps. For grants, emphasizing social impact and innovation is key, while for loans, factors like creditworthiness and repayment terms play a significant role.

Both avenues offer opportunities for financial support, and entrepreneurs can maximize their chances by thoroughly researching options, adhering to guidelines, and maintaining a clear vision for their business goals. Ultimately, the journey of securing funding is a dynamic process that requires diligence, adaptability, and a well-thought-out approach to ensure the success of a small business startup.


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