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Ignite: A WBDC Grant Program

Ignite: A WBDC Grant Program

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

The Ignite Grant Program 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 OPEN

The deadline to apply is March 14th, 2024 11:59 PM

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

Learn about the Ignite Grant

Eligibility Criteria

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 March 14th, 2024 (business must have been established by March 14th, 2022) with a record of sales

– Have a record of annual sales/revenue in 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 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 Grants page to learn more or reach out to us at childcarebusiness@ctwbdc.org
Any individual or business who has already received an Ignite Grant, Equity Match Grant or 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

FAQ

English PDF version of the FAQ: Click here

Spanish PDF version of the FAQ: Click here

Where can I find information on the Ignite Grant? 

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 in February and March 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 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 Grants page to learn more or reach out to us at childcarebusiness@ctwbdc.org

    Any individual or business who has already received an Ignite Grant, Equity Match Grant or 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

    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. Email info@ctwbdc.org to get in contact with a business advisor, or call (203) 353-1750 x140 to speak to our Program Specialist.

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 Ignite 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:
https://ctwbdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/WBDC-Financial-Projections-Template-24-26-English-Spanish-Ignite-1-1.xlsx 

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 x140 to speak to our Program Specialist.  

 How long do I have to be in business?

You have to have been in business for at least two years before March 14th, 2024, with a record of sales. (Your business must have been established by March 14th, 2022)  

Am I still eligible if I was previously a Sole Proprietor, and only recently became an LLC or registered my business?  

Yes. 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 (https://webportalapp.com/sp/wbdc) until March 14th . Emailed applications will not be accepted.

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.   

When will the grant awards be announced?   

Grant awards will be announced in late May, pending the volume of applications received. Please do not reach out to us before then to check the status of your application as all updates will be emailed to you directly. 

 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?

We are planning another round of grants in 2024. 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 about what is an eligible use of funds, please set up an appointment to meet with a business advisor for assistance. 

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

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-wbdc-small-business-grant-program/

Torrington – https://ctwbdc.org/torrington/

Waterbury – https://ctwbdc.org/waterbury/

Is the grant money considered taxable income? 

Yes, the grant money is considered taxable income.  

 

Sign up for an Info Session!

One-hour informational webinars will be held in February and March to enable applicants to prepare their applications in advance of the submission period.  Sign up for the webinar that best meets your schedule using the links below. The content will be the same for all webinars. You only need to attend one session, though you are welcome to attend as many as you would like. 

Click here to download a PDF version of our slide deck. 

Register for an upcoming information session! 

March 6, 2024 – 10:00AM-11:00AM (English)

March 6, 2024 – 5:00PM-6:00PM (Spanish)

Can’t make a live info session? Click here to access a recorded session.

Ignite Grant – How to Calculate Projections 

Projections are a very important part for applying for any type of funding. Funders need to feel that the borrower understands their business thoroughly and their ability to grow it with the funds they are providing. Projections need to be done properly to accurately create that picture for the Funder. Improper projections can show a lack of business stability, profits and overall growth.

If you are applying for the Ignite Grant – join WBDC’s business advisors to get support.  

March 7, 2024 – 12:00PM – 1:00PM (English)

 

Meet with an Advisor

WBDC Business Advisors are available to help answer your questions after you have attended a live or on-demand information session. Please email info@ctwbdc.org to schedule an appointment.  

*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. 

 

How to Prepare

Application Questions

There are four sections to the application:

Section A: Business Description
Section B: How you would use the grant
Section B: Narrative of your business
Section D: Upload supporting documents

Click here to download a copy of the English application.

Haga clic aquí para descargar una copia de la solicitud en español.

 

What the review committee is looking for

– 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 reflects 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 encouraged to use this template for their 2024 – 2026 projections.

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 for a business: Requesting a Status Letter (of Good Standing) 

Here is a tutorial on how to request the status letter for an individual (Sole Proprietor): (ct.gov)Request Status Letter-Individuals (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 and how it has helped some of our amazing recipients! WBDC has awarded 276 Ignite Grants distributing over $2.5 million to women-owned businesses across the state.

Meet Some of Our Ignite Grant Recipients!

Precision Dental Care

Precision Dental Care

Norwalk, CT

Read Mehnosh’s story

Kiara Matos Studio

Kiara Matos Studio

New Haven, CT

Read Kiara’s story

Infinity Music Therapy Services LLC

Infinity Music Therapy Services LLC

Southington, CT

Read Jona’s story

Simone Morris Enterprises LLC

Simone Morris Enterprises LLC

Norwalk, CT

Read Simone’s story

Thank You to Our Outstanding Donors!

CHAMPION ($300,000 +)
Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Webster Bank
LEADER ($100,000+)
Bank of America
M&T Bank
NationSwell
Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation
TD Bank
Tudor Foundation
PARTNER ($50,000 +)
Chelsea Groton Bank
People’s United Bank
ADVOCATE ($25,000 +)
Bankwell
BNY Mellon
Connecticut Community Bank
DR Bank
Fairfield County Bank
Fieldpoint Private
Guilford Savings Bank
Key Bank
Liberty Bank
Milford Bank
Northwest Community Bank
Travelers
Union Savings Bank

 

FRIEND (Up to $10,000)
Berkshire Bank
Connecticut Community Bank
Dime Bank
Eastern Connecticut Savings Bank
Essex Savings Bank
First Bank of Greenwich
First County Bank
Ion Bank Foundation
Newtown Savings Bank
Patriot Bank
Salisbury Bank
Savings Bank of Danbury
Thomaston Savings Bank