Ignite: A WBDC Grant Program

Fueling Small Business Growth

The Women’s Business Development Council offers grants of up to $10,000 to qualified women-owned small businesses in Connecticut.

Ignite is designed to help women-owned businesses grow! Grants between $2,500 and $10,000 will be awarded for clearly defined projects that will have a measurable impact on the business, its growth and profitability.

The grant funds cannot be used towards operating expenses (e.g. inventory, on-going marketing expenses, salaries), real estate improvements (e.g. construction costs), reimbursement for past purchases or debt repayment.

Applicants are required to have invested at least $2,500 into their business in the last 12 months, unless located in a distressed municipality.

THE GRANT APPLICATION IS NOW CLOSED!

Stay tuned for the next round of funding to be announced for early summer!

This is a competitive process and WBDC may not be able to fund all applicants.

Learn about Ignite

To be eligible, the business must:

  • Be 51% or more woman-owned
  • Be headquartered in CT, registered in the state of CT, and owned by a CT resident
  • Have been in business for at least two years before the application round deadline, with a record of sales
  • Have a record of annual sales/revenue in the last twelve months greater than $25,000 and less than $2,000,000
  • Be in good standing with the CT Department of Revenue Services (DRS)
  • Have an established business checking account
  • Currently utilize a formal, digital bookkeeping/financial system (e.g. QuickBooks, Sage, FreshBooks, Wave Accounting)
  • Be a for profit business
  • Be owned by a woman at least 18 years old
  • Have invested at least $2,500 into your business in the last 12 months, unless the business is located in a distressed municipality

The following businesses are not eligible

  • Childcare businesses are not eligible for the Ignite Grant. If your business is in the childcare industry, WBDC has other programs for you. We encourage you to visit our Child Care Business Opportunity Fund page to learn more or reach out to us at childcarebusiness@ctwbdc.org
  • Any individual or business that has already received an Ignite Grant, Equity Match Grant or WBDC Municipal Grant is not eligible.
  • Non-profit organizations are not eligible.
  • Current vendors or contractors of WBDC are not eligible. (Former vendors are eligible to apply a year after working with WBDC.)
  • Medical marijuana; liquor stores and alcohol distributors; adult businesses such as strip clubs; vape retailers; tobacco shops and smoking lounges; businesses having to do with gambling; gun stores and ranges; cash advance, check cashing, or pawn shops; bail bonds; collection agencies or services; and auction or bankruptcy or fire or “lost-our-lease” or “going-out-of-business” or similar sale

There are currently no Information Sessions scheduled. Check back later this summer after the next application period has been announced.

  • Applicants are required to provide a minimum 25% match. This does not necessarily mean that the applicant needs to contribute funds to receive a grant.


    For example
    , if the business receives a $10,000 grant for the purchase of new software, the business must have invested $2,500 in their business over the past 12 months OR be able to invest an incremental $2,500 of their own funds toward the purchase.

  •  Businesses located in distressed economic municipalities (as defined by DECD) do not need to provide the 25% match.

PDF version of the FAQ: Click here

Versión de PDF de preguntas y respuestas en Español aquí

Where can I find information on Ignite?

Please review our website at: https://ctwbdc.org/ignite

Our website includes a detailed description of all the requirements to apply for the Ignite Grant. In addition, we will have information sessions to help you prepare your application. In the case that you cannot attend a live session, a recorded session will be available on-demand.

What businesses are eligible to apply?

Most businesses can apply except the following:

– Childcare businesses are not eligible for Ignite. If your business is in the childcare industry, WBDC has other programs for you. We encourage you to visit our Child Care Opportunity Fund page to learn more or reach out to us at childcarebusiness@ctwbdc.org

-Any individual or business that has already received an Ignite Grant or an Equity Match Grant is not eligible.

-Non-profit organizations are not eligible.

-Current vendors or contractors of WBDC are not eligible. Former vendors are eligible to apply a year after working with WBDC.

-Medical marijuana; liquor stores and alcohol distributors; adult businesses such as strip clubs; vape retailers; tobacco shops and smoking lounges; businesses having to do with gambling; gun stores and ranges; cash advance, check cashing, or pawn shops; bail bonds; collection agencies or services; and auction or bankruptcy or fire or “lost-our-lease” or “going-out-of-business” or similar sale

Can I apply if I don’t live in Connecticut?

You cannot apply if your business is not headquartered/located in CT, registered in the state of CT, and owned by a CT resident.

What can I use the funds for?
Grants are awarded for clearly defined projects that will have a measurable impact on the business, growth, and profitability. Examples of use of funds include equipment, adding ecommerce to websites, technology that expands capacity, and training that expands service offerings. Your proposal should clearly explain how the investment you want to make will help you grow your business.

What is not an eligible use of funds?

Operating expenses are not eligible. This includes:

-Inventory

-Salaries

-Rent

-Real estate improvements (construction costs)

-Debt repayment or reimbursement for past purchases

-Subscriptions, or any monthly expense.

If you are unsure about what is an eligible use of funds, please set up an appointment to meet with a business advisor for assistance.

Can I use the funding towards marketing my business?

You cannot use the grant funds for the general marketing of your business/products/services. A marketing campaign is eligible if it is being used to market a new product or service offering for a limited amount of time. This campaign needs to have a measurable impact on the business’ growth and profitability.

If you are unsure about what is an eligible marketing project, please set up an appointment to meet with a business advisor for assistance.

I don’t know how to do projections; can someone help me?

Yes, we offer free business advising to our clients. To receive help for Ingite Grant applications you must have attended an info session or watched one of our pre-recorded info sessions.

We encourage you to use our projections template. 

Your first year of projections must be broken out by month. Email info@ctwbdc.org to get in contact with a business advisor, or call (203) 353-1750 x133 to speak to our Program Specialist.

How long do I have to be in business?
You must be in business for a minimum of at least two years before the application round deadline, with a record of sales.

Am I still eligible if I was previously a Sole Proprietor, and only recently became an LLC or registered my business?
If you have been the primary owner/operator of the business for at least two years and can provide all of the required documents needed for the application. Please note in your application the change in business structure.

How do I submit my application?
We will accept applications through the application portal once the round has opened.

Can someone review my application before I submit it?

We are happy to work with clients as they prepare their applications only after they have attended an information session or watched the on-demand recording. We highly recommend that applicants begin to prepare their applications and attachments well in advance of the application due date. Applicants are welcome to work with our Business Advisors during that period. Once the applicant completes the application and clicks the “SUBMIT” button, the application is final and review sessions are no longer available.

*Please note* If you review your application with a business advisor, it does not mean you will receive a grant, as an external review committee is making the decisions on which applicants receive grants.

Who reviews the applications?
Applications are reviewed by an external panel of community partners who will select the awardees.

What happens if my grant application is not approved? Can I reapply in the future?
If you are eligible and your application is not approved, you will be contacted by WBDC and given the opportunity to meet with a business advisor to help you prepare for the next round of funding.

Is there a limit to the number of times I can apply?
Yes, you may apply up to three times. After being denied a third time you must wait a year before you are eligible to apply again. In the meantime, we highly recommend you take advantage of our business advising and classes to help you prepare for applying in the future.

Will there be future rounds of grants?
Yes. Please join our email list to be notified when the next grant round opens.

Do I have to make $25,000 in revenue or profit?
You need to make $25,000 in revenue/gross sales (not profit) in the last 12 months.

What if I don’t make $25,000?
If you have not made $25,000 in the last 12 months, we recommend you work with a business advisor to help support your business’ growth so that you may potentially apply in the future.

Can I use the funds to franchise my business?

No. If you are unsure of what is an eligible use of funds, please schedule an appointment with a WBDC business advisor for assistance.

If my business is located in New London, Torrington, or Waterbury, should I apply for Ignite?

No. We have partnered with the cities of New London, Torrington, and Waterbury to offer grant programs solely for the businesses located in these cities. If your business is located in one of these three cities, you should apply for the municipal grant for which your business is located. In addition, these municipal grants are typically awarded within a month, as the applications are reviewed monthly. For more details about the municipal grant programs click on the following links:
New London – https://ctwbdc.org/new-london-grant-program/
Torrington – https://ctwbdc.org/torrington/
Waterbury – https://ctwbdc.org/waterbury/

How to Prepare

There are four sections to the application:

Section A: Business Description 

Section B: How you would use the grant  

Section C: Narrative of your business 

Section D: Supporting Documents  

  • Thoughtful, complete, and well-developed picture of your business that shows a path to growth.

  • Exceptionally clear use of funds, with a direct link to growth, focused, strong supporting detail.

  • Financial Projections are robust and reflect seasonality of business in projections where all numbers make sense.

  • Display the business’ long-term potential, with strong growth and potential for continued growth

  • Job creation potential, with the business being on track to adding more jobs

  • Return on investment, that the funds will unlock growth

  • Grant will have a meaningful impact on the business and help the business grow and scale

    Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of experts from the community. WBDC Business Advisors will not be making the decisions on who receives grants.

Additional Resources

Financial Template

Click here to download the projected profit and loss template (English & Spanish)

This template is provided as a guide by the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC). Applicants are welcome to use this template or their own format if they prefer.

How to Create Projections

Access on-demand lessons about how to create projections based on your business type.

eLearning: Pricing, Profitability, Projections for a Product Business

eLearning: Pricing, Profitability, Projections for Service Business

For additional assistance please email info@ctwbdc.org to request an appointment with a finance advisor. 

How to Obtain Your Letter of Good Standing

Please request your letter from the CT DRS myconneCT online center: 𝗺𝘆𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗖𝗧 (ct.gov) 

Here is a tutorial to on how to request the status letter: Requesting a Status Letter (of Good Standing) (ct.gov)

Click here to see an example of what your status letter should like. Please note that if it does not look like this – it is the wrong document. 

Our Impact

Learn about the impact of the Ignite Grant (formerly known as the Equity Match Grant) and how it has helped some of our amazing recipients! 

Meet Some of Our Grant Recipients!

Martha DeFlorio

Made Floral

Martha DeFlorio

Made Floral
See More

Liz Ceppos

Cross Culture Kombucha

Liz Ceppos

Cross Culture Kombucha
See More

Shellena Pitterson

Orchid Maids Cleaning Service

Shellena Pitterson

Orchid Maids Cleaning Service
See More

Kristin Vece

Elevate Healing Arts

Kristin Vece

Elevate Healing Arts
See More

Dr. Melissa-Sue John

Lauren Simone Publishing

Dr. Melissa-Sue John

Lauren Simone Publishing
See More

Simone Morris

Simone Morris Enterprises

Simone Morris

Simone Morris Enterprises
See More

Thank You to Our Generous Donors!

List includes all donors who have supported the Ignite Program (formerly known as the Equity Match Grant Program) since 2020

CHAMPION ($300,000 +)
LEADER ($100,000+)
PARTNER ($50,000 +)
ADVOCATE ($25,000 +)
FRIEND (Up to $10,000)