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Top grants for small businesses in Nigeria 

by James
4 minutes read

Starting a business in Nigeria is exciting but challenging, especially when you need funds. While loans come with interest and must be repaid, grants offer a fantastic alternative. They’re essentially free money for your business! In this guide, we’ll walk you through eight top grants in Nigeria and share expert tips to help you win them.

Why Grants Matter for Nigerian Businesses

In Nigeria, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the economy, making up 96% of businesses and employing 84% of the workforce. However, 80% of SMEs struggle and fail within the first five years due to lack of funds. This is where grants come in handy, offering a lifeline for entrepreneurs.

Types of Grants Available

Grants can come from government agencies, private corporations, international organizations, and NGOs. They vary based on business stage, industry, location, and founder demographics.

Top 8 Grants for Small Businesses in Nigeria

  1. Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme
    • Amount: $5,000
    • Who Can Apply: African entrepreneurs with businesses under 3 years old
    • How: Apply online on TEFConnect.com from January 1 – March 31
  2. Bank of Industry Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) Programme

    • Amount: Up to ₦10 million
    • Who Can Apply: Nigerian youth aged 18-35
    • How: Online application on BOI website
  3. GroFin Small and Growing Businesses Fund

    • Amount: $100,000 – $1.5 million
    • Who Can Apply: Nigerian businesses in key sectors
    • How: Apply online on GroFin website
  4. YouWiN! Connect Nigeria

    • Amount: ₦1 million – ₦10 million
    • Who Can Apply: Nigerian youth aged 18-45
    • How: Online application on YouWIN portal
  5. AYEEN Grant by Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs

    • Amount: Varies
    • Who Can Apply: Young Nigerian entrepreneurs aged 18-40
    • How: Online application on AYEEN website
  6. GEM Grant by World Bank and Federal Government

    • Amount: $50,000 – $2 million
    • Who Can Apply: Nigerian firms in key non-oil sectors
    • How: Online application on GEM portal
  7. Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF)

    • Amount: Up to ₦5 million
    • Who Can Apply: Lagos residents with viable business ideas
    • How: Online application on LSETF website
  8. USADF Grants in Nigeria

    • Amount: Up to $250,000
    • Who Can Apply: African-owned enterprises in specific sectors
    • How: Online application on USADF website

Tips for Winning Grants

  1. Research: Know the grants that fit your business and meet all requirements.
  2. Business Plan: Craft a detailed and compelling business plan.
  3. Value Proposition: Explain why your business is unique and needed.
  4. Show Traction: Highlight any achievements or progress.
  5. Team Expertise: Showcase your team’s skills and experience.
  6. Network: Get feedback from successful entrepreneurs.
  7. Follow Instructions: Adhere to all application guidelines.
  8. Apply Widely: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Other Funding Options

Apart from grants, consider loans from microfinance banks, commercial banks, and government schemes. Equity financing is another option where you sell shares to investors.

Stories of Success

  • LifeBank: Won $25,000 and $250,000 from two different grants.
  • Publiseer: Received $10,000 and $5,000 from two awards.
  • Gricd: Bagged ₦1 million and ₦2 million from competitions.


Grants are a fantastic way to fund your business without taking on debt. They offer not only money but also validation and support. With the right preparation, you can increase your chances of winning these grants and taking your business to new heights.


1. What is the difference between a grant and a loan?

Grants are free money that you don’t have to pay back, while loans need to be repaid with interest.

2. Can I apply for multiple grants?

Yes, applying for several grants can increase your chances of success, but tailor each application to the specific grant.

3. Are there grants for specific industries or demographics?

Yes, some grants target specific industries, stages of business, or demographic groups like youth or women.

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