Here are step-by-step guide to write a winning business grant proposal in Nigeria. Use the tips here to win your dream grants.
Winning a business grant in Nigeria can be a lifesaver.
It can provide the funding you need to launch your business, grow it, and scale it up.
The good news is there’s a ton of funding available for businesses these days through grants. For instance, the Tony Elumelu Foundation alone has committed $100 million to support African entrepreneurs over ten years.
With so much funding up for grabs, a well-crafted proposal can unlock the capital you need to turn your business dreams into reality.
However, simply writing a generic grant application is unlikely to stand out in a competitive field.
You need an irresistible proposal that grabs the grantor’s attention, convinces them that your company and project deserve their investment, and compels them to award you the grant.
And that’s what this guide is all about.
Here, we’ll walk you step-by-step through the process of writing a winning grant proposal that checks all the boxes and secures your funding.
So, let’s get started.
Looking for ways to fund your small business in Nigeria? This blog post offers a comprehensive guide on how to get business grants in Nigeria.
Here are the top ten business grants for women entrepreneurs in Nigeria to fund your woman-led business.
Key Takeaway (Editor’s Picks)
- Get to know the grantor inside out. Dig into their website, mission, and past projects – this helps you tailor your proposal to what excites them.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Creating a schedule upfront prevents last-minute scrambling before the deadline.
- Map it out. Outline all the required sections so you know what to write before diving in.
- Grab attention fast with a compelling cover letter and executive summary focused on the meat of your proposal.
- Show don’t tell. Back up any claims about needs with data, stats, and examples – evidence draws readers in.
- Succinctly showcase your business’s track record and capabilities so reviewers believe you can deliver.
- Set measurable, time-bound goals with quantitative targets to demonstrate thorough planning.
- Describe your methods in detail to convey you’ve got implementation covered from all angles.
- Include metrics, client testimonials, and credentials showing you’ve done this successfully before.
- Provide a detailed, justified budget to prove you’ll spend funds responsibly if funded.
- Follow the instructions. Meet ALL formatting rules, and requirements and stick to page limits – no cutting corners!
Download Free Grant Proposal Writing Checklists
Get our free downloadable Business Grant Writing Checklist for Nigerians. Use it to map out and track all the key components you need for grant success.
Writing a Winning Grant Proposal In Nigeria, Step-by-Step
We know you want to create a winning grant proposal, so we’ve taken the liberty to outline the only steps you need to follow to achieve that goal. But first, you must put a few things in place to start writing that proposal.
Let’s torchlight them briefly.
Before You Start Writing
Think about it – there are possibly hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants vying for any one grant award, so you may want to bring your A-game. To stand the best chance, do these before you start writing your grant proposal.
1. Research the Grant Opportunity
Do your homework and spend time thoroughly researching the specific grant you aim to apply for.
Review the grantor’s website in detail, paying close attention to their priorities, submission criteria, deadlines, and any data on past projects funded. This will provide insight into the types of businesses and projects they want to support through their grant program.
2. Create a Timeline for Drafting and Finalizing Your Proposal by the Deadline
Grant applications often have strict submission deadlines you must adhere to or risk being ineligible. Make sure you note the due date and then work backward to create a drafting timeline. Allocate plenty of time for writing initial drafts of each section, gathering supporting documents, getting feedback from collaborators, and finalizing your polished proposal.
3. Design an Outline Before Drafting
Organize all the required pieces of your proposal with an outline. This serves as your content roadmap, ensuring you cover every section grantors want to see while maintaining clear structure and flow.
Typical sections for a grant proposal include:
- Cover Letter
- Executive Summary
- Statement of Need
- Project Description
- Goals and Objectives
- Implementation Strategies
- Organization/Business Background and Qualifications
- Evaluation Methods
Fleshing out brief bullet points for each section forms the skeleton of your proposal before you begin writing fully crafted paragraphs and sentences.
With preliminary planning and research complete, you can now shift your focus to crafting a winning written proposal. Let’s dive into the key sections.
Step 1: Craft an Irresistible Cover Letter
A cover letter is often the first part of your proposal package that grant reviewers will see when they open your application. Consider it your opportunity to make an irresistible first impression.
Though it comes at the beginning, it can be easier to write this final after completing your actual proposal. This allows you to capture the essence of your entire proposal in the letter and highlight the most compelling details upfront.
The letter should summarize:
- Who you are – Briefly introduce yourself and your company/organization.
- The grant opportunity – Note the specific grant you are applying for.
- The funding request – State the exact amount you are requesting.
- An overview of your proposed project – 1-2 sentences on what you will use the grant funds to accomplish.
- How your project fits the grantor’s mission – Emphasize alignment in 1-2 key sentences.
- The need for their support – Close by making a case for why they should fund you.
Keep the letter concise at 1 page maximum. Your goal is to pique their interest to read further and make a strong first impression.
Here is an example cover letter:
Step 2: Pull the Reader in With a Strong Executive Summary
No one wants to read a lengthy document if they don’t have a way of knowing what to expect: its purpose and significance. That’s where an executive summary comes in. The executive summary is a concise, compelling paragraph (or two) condensation of your proposal. It is designed to pull readers in to keep reviewing your full proposal.
It should briefly summarize:
- The problem/needs your business is addressing
- Your proposed solution/activities
- Project goals and outcomes
- The amount of funding you are requesting
- Key measures for defining success if funded
This opening section gives the reader a high-level snapshot of your project. You can foreground the most impactful details. This will prime readers to dive deeper into the rationale and specifics you have to offer.
Here is a sample executive summary:
The executive summary contains a clear funding request amount upfront.
It succinctly overviews the project goals, activities, and purpose in only three paragraphs – which should be your goal too. The optimum length of an executive summary is two to four paragraphs.
Step 3: Follow Up With a Succinct Needs Statement
The needs statement is a section of your proposal that describes the problem or need that your project addresses. It explains why your project is necessary and important, and how it will fill a gap or solve a challenge that affects your target population or beneficiaries.
With a compelling opening hook, now you need to showcase why your project deserves funding. The statement of needs section is your chance to zoom in on the specific issues you seek to address.
Clearly articulate the problems or needs your business is working to solve. Use supporting data, statistics, and evidence to demonstrate the significance of the issue and the urgency of your solution. Outline how these needs align with the grantor’s key focus areas.
Pro Tip: If you want to stand a better chance, you should write the needs statement in a persuasive tone to appeal to the grantmaker’s emotions and logic.
Step 4: Shine the Spotlight on Your Organization And Describe Your Project
Let’s call this section the ‘organization introduction’.This section introduces your organization and its mission, vision, values, history, achievements, and capabilities. It explains who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you do it.
The organization description should be brief, clear, and relevant. It should include the following information:
- The name and legal status of your organization
- Its mission, vision, and values
- The history and background of your organization
- Your main products, services, or programs
- The target population or beneficiaries that your organization serves
- The goals and objectives that your organization pursues
- Your organization’s achievements and impacts
- Staffing and resources
- The partners and stakeholders that your organization works with
Step 5: Articulate Your Aims and Objective
An important complement to detailing your project activities is defining expected goals and target objectives. Outline the measurable outcomes and impact you aim to achieve if awarded funding.
Good goals are SMART:
- Specific – Clear, well-defined objectives
- Measurable – Quantifiable metrics to track progress
- Achievable – Realistic outcomes with proposed resources
- Relevant – Aligns with grantor mission and stated needs
- Time-bound – A defined timeline for completion
For example, our example education app follows the SMART goals framework, which is to:
- Develop a fully functional mobile app with 10 interactive software modules (6 months)
- Reach 500+ app downloads in first 6 months after launch
- Pilot curriculum in 3 local high schools, reaching 60+ students
- Receive 4 out of 5-star average rating on app stores
- Survey students on skills gained, interests sparked in STEM careers
- The more specific and measurable your goals are, the stronger your proposal.
Step 6: Describe Your Methods and Strategies
At this point, you’ve covered the what and why of your project. Now focus on explaining the how – your strategies, activities, and tactical steps to accomplish the stated goals.
Delineate how you will operationally execute your project, with a step-by-step action plan. This conveys thoughtfulness and savvy to reviewers that you have concrete methods to achieve success. It is in this section that you make it clear that you have a roadmap to drive results and fulfill the grantor’s vision.
Step 7: Prove Your Success With Track Record
While your proposal focuses on the future, providing evidence of your past success further strengthens your case. Include brief case studies, statistics, or testimonials that showcase your business or organization’s expertise and ability to deliver concrete results with similar projects.
Some types of evidence to include:
- Data or metrics on positive outcomes achieved
- Client testimonials
- Case studies of past initiatives
- Recognition such as awards won
- Qualifications and credentials of key team members
Proving you have successfully executed quality work similar to your proposal gives reviewers confidence in your capabilities.
Step 8: Map Out a Detailed Budget
No grant proposal is complete without outlining your project’s budget and the exact funding amount you are requesting. This is the section of your proposal that shows how much your project will cost and how you will spend the grant money. It is a financial plan that details the income and expenses of your project. It also demonstrates your project’s efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability.
In this section, clearly detail:
- Itemized expenses you anticipate
- Cost breakdowns for personnel, facilities, equipment, activities
- The amount you are requesting from this specific grant
- Any additional funding sources you have secured
Document how you arrived at the requested amount and show it is appropriate for your project scale and activities. Justifying each line item builds credibility.
Tips For Writing Your Winning Grant Proposal
Follow these tips to write a winning grant proposal in Nigeria.
Find Out About the Funders’s Key Interests and Nail It
Thoroughly research the grantor, including their website, mission, past projects funded, and any initiatives or events they sponsor. Make sure your proposal aligns with their priorities and interests. Throughout your proposal, demonstrate how your project furthers their goals and provides outcomes they value. Emphasizing this fit will make your proposal stand out.
Keep Your Ideas Organised Using Numbered Lists, Tables, etc.
Break up dense paragraphs by formatting content into numbered lists, bullet points, tables, charts, infographics, etc. when possible. This improves visual appeal, clarity, and comprehension for reviewers. Help guide them by highlighting key data, steps, timelines, goals, and other details.
Customize Your Proposal to Each Opportunity
Each grant program values different things. So avoid repurposing the same proposal for different opportunities. Tailor objectives, activities, budgets, and writing to closely match what each grantor cares about. Include details showing you thoroughly understand their particular goals. This extra polish can make a difference.
Need Help Writing a Winning Business Grant Proposal?
Getting a business grant in Nigeria can be tough.
But you’ve got a better chance with the right business grant proposal writer. Still, finding the perfect match takes some effort. This article will give you tips for hiring a top-notch grant writer.
You’ll learn where to look, what to ask, and mistakes to avoid.
How Can I Make My Proposal Stand Out from the Competition?
Thoroughly research the grantor’s priorities, then craft objectives and make your cover letter irresistible. Don’t forget to include compelling visuals to properly express your ideas. Quantify impact with data – funders love data-driven approaches. Demonstrate innovation, highlight cost-effectiveness, emphasize collaboration, and customize your grant application according to the funder’s guidelines.
Should I Stick to Rules like Page Limits?
Yes, you absolutely should. You need to follow all formatting rules, requirements, and page limits exactly as it says on the grant website. Try not to exceed any limits or break rules while writing your proposal. Exceeding limits or ignoring guidelines makes your proposal seem sloppy. Review criteria closely and give grantors what they ask for.
What’s the Most Important Part of the Proposal?
The needs statement and project plan are critical but don’t overlook the executive summary. This overview primes reviewers on your whole proposal and should compel them to keep reading. Make it focused and memorable.
Should I Explain Weaknesses or Obstacles?
Yes, you can talk about weaknesses or obstacles as it’s a way to show funders that you’re genuine – no business is perfect. However, only briefly acknowledge weaknesses and potential challenges, but emphasize strengths. Don’t dwell on negatives or it may undermine your case. Instead, stress your proven experience overcoming similar hurdles.
How Much Detail Should the Budget Include?
Be as detailed as possible, breaking down costs by project components, staff, facilities, travel, materials, etc. Thorough line items demonstrate thoughtfulness and responsiveness.
Writing Winning Business Grant Proposal: What Next?
A well-crafted business grant proposal can be your ticket to much-needed funding.
We’ve covered all the key strategies today – from research and planning to crafting irresistible sections that position your business as a star player. But the work doesn’t stop when you submit your proposal.
We’ve also included a free downloadable Business Grant Writing Checklist to help you map out and track all the key components you need for grant success.
Get the checklist and let it guide you as you draft your A+ grant proposal.
Free Grant Writing Proposal Checklists
Get our free downloadable Business Grant Writing Checklist for Nigerians. Use it to map out and track all the key components you need for grant success.