25 Top Grants for Small Businesses in Nigeria
by Counseal Team
Updated November 26, 2023
Grants are non-repayable funds awarded by an entity, usually, government, foundations, corporations etc, to individuals or businesses. This is better than loans —you don’t need to worry about refunds or loan interests.
Let’s get into all the grants available.
- 1. Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) Funding:
- 2. Growth and Employment Project (GEM):
- 3. Google Grants for Women Empowerment Projects (GGWEP):
- 4. Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) Grant:
- 5. Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA):
- 6. Youth Empowerment Nigeria (YEN):
- 7. KickStart Entrepreneurship Programme (KEP):
- 9. Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa (KAAIA):
- 10. Women in Africa Entrepreneurs Grants (WIA):
- 11. Africa's Business Heroes Funds:
- 12. African Women Development Fund (AWDF):
- 13. British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) Foundation Farmers for the Future (F4F) Grant:
- 14. Greenhouse Capital (GHC); First Female Tech Accelerator in Nigeria:
- 15. i-Startup South West Programme:
- 16. Standard Chartered Woman in Tech Incubator - WITI3:
- 17. FedEx Small Business Grant Content:
- 18. UNICEF Innovation Fund:
- 19. FoodTech Innovation Awards:
- 20. Africa Food Prize (AFP):
- 21. Africa No Filter Media Grant (ANF):
- 22. Agrohack challenge in Nigeria:
- 23. Africa's Digital Innovation Competition (ADIC):
- 24. USAID Digital Development Awards (Digis):
- 25. Swedish AI Fund (SAIF):
1. Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) Funding:
MEST awards seed funding of between $50k – $250k to technology businesses. MEST also supports through advisory and provides working space, hands-on support, resources, and a vibrant community to help tech startups succeed.
Who can apply for MEST Funding:
Any African from the age of 18 and above can apply for this grant.
How to apply for MEST Funding:
- Login meltwater.org
- Click on apply
- Fill registration form carefully and submit
- You need the following are for your application:
- Active business of 2 years or less
- Software company
- Business model(compulsory)
- Business registration details
2. Growth and Employment Project (GEM):
The initiative is supported by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment ( FMTI) and funded by the World Bank and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The project is aimed at job creation.
Who can apply to GEM:
Any Nigerian business within the sectors mentioned below
How to apply for GEM:
- Register on BIG Platform (www.bigportal.org.ng).
- You will be invited to the induction workshop where you are expected to participate.
- Accumulate enough points from the workshop to qualify
- Your documents will be validated after qualifying and you will be awarded your grant.
- You need the following to qualify for the grants:
- A firm that is registered on the BIG platform
- Your grant request must be between $10k and $50k
- Your firm must be environmental and social compliant
- Your firm must be operating in these sectors; entertainment,light manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, construction and real estate or any other business related to these sectors.
3. Google Grants for Women Empowerment Projects (GGWEP):
This is part of a series of new initiatives by Google aimed at supporting women-owned businesses.
Who can apply for GGWEP:
Any woman-led tech startup.
How to apply for GGWEP:
- Go to the startup.google.com
- Click on the text that says ‘apply’
- Fill in all the required information.
- You will need:
- a minimum of 5-10 employees
- a registered business
4. Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) Grant:
This initiative was developed by the United States to increase small and medium company growth in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Who can apply for SMEDAN:
Any Nigerian between 18 – 45 years who has WAEC/B.Sc or BA/HND degree.
How to apply for SMEDAN:
- Go to usadf.gov
- Fill the form on the Business profile section
- Complete the questionnaire that comes with the form
- Be sure that you click the submit button when you are done.
- You will need the following for the application:
- An existing business and/or a business plan
- Your business’ location must be in Nigeria
- A valid ID
- The organisation strictly rejects businesses related to gambling, alcohol, or weapons.
5. Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA):
The IPA competition identifies and celebrates innovations by Africans solving some of the continent’s most intractable challenges.
Who can apply for IPA:
How to apply for IPA:
- Go to the Africaninnovation.org
- Click on the box at the top right hand corner,click on programs
- Under programs click on Innovation Prize for Africa
- Go through the details of the seven steps process before applying
6. Youth Empowerment Nigeria (YEN):
This project has been established to address challenges such as job creation, leadership, Social work, etc. It is a youth-led programme that engages Nigerian youths productively.
Who can apply for YEN:
Nigerians between the ages of 12-21
How to apply for YEN:
- Go to youthempowermentnigeria.org and sign up.
- Fill the application form. Note that you can also get the application form physically at their office. Address and contact details are on the website.
- You will need the following for this application:
- 3 pages business summary/ proposal
- 2 recent passport photographs
- National ID
- Utility bill
- Submit your fully completed application and prepare for the defence of your business summary. You will be called for the defence if your proposal is convincing.
- Be careful not to submit your application twice.
7. KickStart Entrepreneurship Programme (KEP):
This is an initiative of the International Breweries Foundation and the arm of the International Breweries Plc. The foundation’s focus is on the enterprise growth and development of young entrepreneurs. The programme gives youths grants and mentoring for their businesses.
Who can apply for KEP:
Nigerians between 18-35 years
How to apply for KEP:
- Go to reg.smetoolkit.ng and sign up.
- Fill the application form
- Note that your business must be 0-3years old and must be in Nigeria.
8. Grand Challenges Africa Grants (GCAG):
This grant is awarded by the Canadian government to low -middle-income countries in Africa.
Who can apply for GCAG:
How to apply for GCAG:
- Go to the aasciences.africa
- Read the rules and guidelines carefully
- Click the apply button
- Fill the application form and submit
There is no deadline for the application of this grant
9. Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa (KAAIA):
The initiative seeks to support African social entrepreneurs who have business models in the development of digital solutions.
Who can apply for KAAIA:
How to apply for KAAIA:
- Go to kofiannanfoundation.org/
- Look out for the open call adverts
- Selection will be made for the innovation Bootcamp
- If you make the list and attend the boot camp you qualify to make a pitch to the jury
- The 3 teams with highest potential will be awarded the grant.
10. Women in Africa Entrepreneurs Grants (WIA):
This grant is hosted by Women in Africa, a company whose mission is to help women entrepreneurs and leaders to impact Africa’s economy.
Who can apply for WIA grants:
Any African woman entrepreneur or leader.
How to apply for WIA grants:
- Go to the advance-africa.com and Click apply on the landing page.
- The apply link will take you to the information page. Here you will see How to apply:.
- Submit your application and wait for the announcement of finalists
- For this application you need:
- A business and/or a business plan
- A woman-led team or business
- Your business must be in the 8 business categories: please check the website for details on this.
11. Africa’s Business Heroes Funds:
This is the flagship program of the Jack Ma Foundation in Africa. The goal is to grow local talents and inspire an African entrepreneurship movement.
Who can apply for Africa’s Business Heroes funds:
A Nigerian founder or Co-founder of a company based in Nigeria.
How to apply for Africa’s Business Heroes funds:
- Apply on JackMafoundation.org .
- Your application will be reviewed online by two judges. If you make the top 50 finalist list, then you should prepare rigorously for your Video-call interview.
- For this application you will need:
- Existing business
- 3 years revenue for your business
- CAC registration
- Business proposal
12. African Women Development Fund (AWDF):
AWDF is a Pan-African grant-making organisation that supports the realisation and fulfilment of African women’s rights through funding of autonomous women’s organisations in Africa.
Who can apply for AWDF:
Any African woman who leads or manages a company.
How to apply for AWDF:
- Go to the awdf.org and Sign up
- Check the application criteria, then go ahead to apply if you meet the terms.
- For this application you will need:
- Woman-led company
- A business focused on empowering women
- A proposal
- A 3 years old registered business
13. British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) Foundation Farmers for the Future (F4F) Grant:
This initiative is focused on encouraging and supporting youths in sustainable agriculture. The foundation is currently targeting youths who are still in the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC).
Who can apply for F4F Grants:
Any youth still in the NYSC.
How to apply F4F Grants:
- Go to the batnf.com to apply.
- Submit your application. You will need:
- A business idea and plan
- Be prepared to defend your business plan if shortlisted.
- 20 applicants will be shortlisted for a bootcamp. 10 businesses will be chosen from the bootcamp. 3 winners will finally emerge.
14. Greenhouse Capital (GHC); First Female Tech Accelerator in Nigeria:
GHC is a leading African Fintech investment fund focused on supporting start-up companies, and emerging top-notch entrepreneurs, in building the next wave of innovative technology companies.
Who can apply for GHC funds:
A Nigerian-based tech start-up that has at least one woman and one technical team member.
How to apply for GHC funds:
- Go to greenhouse.capital and create an account
- Confirm your account
- Submit your application
- You need to have a beta-product and a business proposal ready for this application.
15. i-Startup South West Programme:
This is a Federal Government grant. The programme is aimed at opportunities for teams that have viable ideas and solutions in manufacturing, tech, agriculture, and governance.
Who can apply for i-Startup:
An individual or start-up who has an idea, solution, or product in tech, agriculture, health, governance, manufacturing, or the digital oil field. MUST be located in the South West of Nigeria.
How to apply for i-Startup
- Go to Premierhub.com.ng.
- Click the ‘Apply now’ button
- The button will take you to the form. Make sure to fill all required information.
- Submit and print out your confirmation slip
- Be on the lookout for email for the next stage if you are selected.
16. Standard Chartered Woman in Tech Incubator – WITI3:
This program focuses on supporting early to mid-stage female professionals in the technology and business sectors.
Who can apply WITI3:
Nigerian females between the ages of 18-35.
How to apply for WITI3:
- Go to the SCwomenintech.co.zm and register
- Apply and submit application
- For this application you will need:
- An existing business or business that aligns with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals led by a woman.
- The existing business should have been in existence for at least 12 months
- Company registration documents
17. FedEx Small Business Grant Content:
This contest has been developed to foster growth in small businesses.
Who can apply for FedEx Small Business Grant:
Any for-profit small business with a FedEx shipping account number that has been in continuous operation selling a product in market for at least six (6) months by the time the contest starts.
How to apply for FedEx Small Business Grant:
- Go to www.fedex.com/en-us/small-business/grant-contest/ to apply
- Make a 1 minute video introducing and pitching your business
- With the video submit your business logo, photos and short business profile
- To be eligible, you must:
- have a registered business in Nigeria
- have been in operation for over a year
- have less than 50 employees
- have been using FedEx shipping service within 12 months of applying
18. UNICEF Innovation Fund:
The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make up to $100K equity-free investments (in cryptocurrency) to provide early stage funding and mentoring to for-profit technology startups that have the potential to benefit humanity. If you have a start-up registered in Nigeria, this is a good one.
Who can apply for UNICEF Innovation Fund:
There is no age limit for this grant. Only that your start-up must be legally registered in a UN program country; in this case is Nigeria.
How to apply for UNICEF Innovation Fund:
- Go to the UNICEFinnivatiinfund.org
- Check if you are eligible to apply. To be eligible, you must:
- have a registered business in Nigeria and
- your solution must be open source.
November 30, 2022. Deadlines for subsequent years will be announced.
19. FoodTech Innovation Awards:
The award recognises the most innovative business models or technology that can create a change in the food sector. The tech category awards the most innovative food tech startup.
Who can apply for FoodTech Innovation Awards:
All organisations which are identified with this aim are cordially invited to submit their proposals to the Food 4 Future.
How to apply for FoodTech Innovation Awards:
- Go to expofoodtech.com
- Click on the ‘I want to apply now’ button.
- The link takes you to a page where you are required to fill a form and read the terms and conditions.
- Submit the form when you are done filling the required spaces.
20. Africa Food Prize (AFP):
The award recognizes outstanding individuals that are leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa—from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives in Africa.
Who can apply for AFP:
African entrepreneurs who are focused on creating food security in Africa.
How to apply for AFP:
- Look out for a call for applications on the AFP.org website
- Fill application form
- Further details will be sent to your email.
21. Africa No Filter Media Grant (ANF):
The grant contributes to an increase in African storytellers and content creators. It is an initiative that gives space to voices that are historically misrepresented in Africa.
Who can apply for ANF grant:
- Bloggers, Vloggers, Content creators, Authors, Musicians, Photographers, Poets who are Africans, and based in Africa.
- Must be a woman who is at least 18 years old.
How to apply for ANF grant:
- Go to africanofilter.org
- Click on Grants to see application information
- Submit your fully completed application
- Wait for selection details through your email
22. Agrohack challenge in Nigeria:
This is a MasterCard initiative. The objective is to harness innovative solutions that will enhance rapid growth in the food sector as well as increase farmers’ output and profits. This will in turn, create new jobs and food security in Nigeria.
Who can apply for Agrohack challenge in Nigeria:
Nigerians between the ages of 18-35 years.
How to apply for Agrohack challenge in Nigeria:
- Go to smetoolkit.ng and sign up.
- Click on the link provided for application and apply.
- Note you need these for the application:
- At least a team of 2
- A viable product
- Business model
October 3, 2022. Deadline for subsequent years will be announced.
23. Africa’s Digital Innovation Competition (ADIC):
The competition is focused on giving grant awards to entrepreneurs and startups for developing solutions with digital products and services and in turn impacting Africa positively. The competition focuses on fintech and cyber solutions, Sustainability and supply chain solutions, and Human development and social services solutions.
Who can apply for ADIC:
Any Nigerian based startup owned by an African.
How to apply for ADIC:
- Go to uschamber.com
- Make a 2 minute video pitch to address the problem you want to solve or a product.
- Fill out the application form on the website.
- You need the following for you application:
- A registered business in Nigeria
- Must be an African owned business
- Your business must not be older than 5 years
- Submit your application form and 2 minutes of video.
24. USAID Digital Development Awards (Digis):
The Digis celebrates USAID projects and activities that embrace the Agency’s strategic goals of improving development and humanitarian assistance outcomes through the use of digital technology and strengthening open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems
Who can apply for Digis:
Nigerians who have Nigerian based businesses.
How to apply for Digis:
- Go to the USAID.gov for application details which will be published when there is a new call for applications.
25. Swedish AI Fund (SAIF):
This grant is targeted at helping African AI startups to expand.
How to apply for SAIF:
- Go to the vc4a.com website
- Read instructions carefully.
- Choose any of the 13 categories of grants that fits your AI startup.
- Click on the ‘apply’ button that will take you to a Google form.
- Read the instructions on the form carefully, then fill and submit.
Who can apply for SAIF:
Anyone who provides services to the AI Industry toward equality, safety, and security, your program can be covered by SAIF.
If you’re looking for ways to ease your financial burden and take your business to the next level, these 25 grants for small and medium businesses in Nigeria could be a great option. Many of these grants also include professional training to help you more effectively manage your business.