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  • Grant program for women-owned small businesses in Connecticut again accepting applications

    STATEWIDE, CT — The Women’s Business Development Council’s (WBDC) Equity Match Grant Program for women-owned businesses in Connecticut is now accepting applications. Grants between $2,500 and $10,000 are available for clearly defined projects that will have a measurable impact on the business, its growth and profitability. Applications will be accepted online at ctwbdc.org through Sept.28.

    The grant program is designed to help position Connecticut-based women-owned businesses for growth. The grant funds cannot be used towards operating expenses, payroll, or real estate improvements. Applicants are required to provide a minimum 25% match.

    “Women- and minority-owned businesses statewide have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency, forcing too many business owners to choose between paying rent and making payroll, or whether to move their business online to stay open. It hasn’t been easy. Many of our smallest businesses are hanging on by a thread,” said Lt. Governor Bysiewicz. “By working with corporate and private funders and the Women’s Business Development Council, we were able to raise substantial funds to provide a much-needed lifeline to small business owners.”

    The grant program originated from the generous contributions of a number of private and public funders and received a significant boost from the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

    “This funding will help our women- and minority-owned businesses continue to survive and thrive by moving toward more sustainable long-term business models by establishing an online presence, moving to new product lines and services, and reaching broader customer base.”

    WBDC has completed two rounds of the Equity Match Grant Program, awarding a total of $503,514 to 55 businesses in Connecticut. During round 1 of the disbursements in 2020, $106,500 was awarded to 11 business owners; by May 2021, $397,014 had been distributed to 44 women -owned enterprises.

    Among the grants that were distributed:

    ● 31% of EMG recipients added a new product line or service

    ● 56% of recipients expanded marketing efforts

    ● 33% hired new employees or contractors

    ● 13% increased office / commercial / or retail space

    ● 8% launched a business online

    One business that used the grant to refocus and revive was Nala’s Kitchen, a meal preparation service based out of West Hartford. When the pandemic hit, some of Nala’s regular customers shut down and suspended their orders. Chef-owner Beca Tuinei saw an opportunity to grow by investing in strategic marketing to reach new customers.

    “I hadn’t worked with WBDC before the EMG grant, but I can tell you one thing – I won’t ever stop utilizing them from here on out. Whatever your background is, they truly have provided an education I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere, in a way that wasn’t intimidating at all,” Tunei said. She utilized the grant to hire a consultant, revamp her marketing campaigns and expand her local customer base.

    “I felt like I was in a hamster wheel, just focused on getting more business, and running the business. It didn’t give me time to really strategize. The EMG grant gave me the opportunity to bring in outside help and collaborate with professionals to elevate my overall marketing thought process,” Tuinei said.

    Other success stories include:

    1. A Waterford catering service was able to purchase new equipment, including a three-door reach-in freezer for the front-of-house and a charbroiler for the back.
    2. A Simsbury spa owner was able to purchase additional equipment and lighting, attend training, and establish an online store.
    3. A Stamford occupational therapist and yoga teacher was able to purchase new equipment and expand her functional therapy offerings for children.
    4. A New Haven café is formulating a new product line and packaging to sell their products in grocery stores.

    “WBDC is proud to offer this direct aid to women-owned businesses to catalyze their growth, whether diversifying a new product line or accessing a new market,” shares WBDC Founder and CEO. “Through the Equity Match Grant Program, we have witnessed women business owners innovating and igniting creativity and inspiring other business owners to do the same,” she shares.

    For full details on Equity Match Grant eligibility and requirements as well as information and resources on application preparation, please visit ctwbdc.org/equity-match-grant-program. WBDC business advisors can also be reached with further questions by emailing microgrants@ctwbdc.org.

    About the Women’s Business Development Council 

    Since 1997, the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) has educated and trained more than 14,000 clients—helping women to launch and scale over 6,000 businesses, create, and maintain over 8,100 jobs in Connecticut, and access more than $18.6 in capital. WBDC is the only agency in Connecticut reflective of the statewide demographic makeup offering comprehensive micro-enterprise training, with services ranging from financial education, entrepreneurial development, and access to capital programs.