Nonprofit handing out grants to female entrepreneurs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the seventh year in a row, women across Michigan will have a chance at getting $10,000 to start or continue their business.

Michigan Women Forward, a local nonprofit, will hear hundreds of business proposals from across the state as part of its annual WomanUp & Pitch competition. The winners of the contest will take home up to $10,000.

“These grants are great because they’re free money,” Alexis Dishman, chief lending officer for Michigan Women Forward, said. “Women entrepreneurs can receive (them) without having to repay it. That creates such an amazing opportunity for women entrepreneurs for capital. These grants can be used for anything from expanding or growing their business, seed capital or things like adding employees.”

The program was started to help entrepreneurs bypass the barriers that they may be facing when trying to get their product or business off the ground. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that while the number of female-owned firms has been increasing, it still falls far behind male-owned firms.

“Many of the entrepreneurs that MWF has supported have not had real substantial collateral that may be available for a traditional financial institution,” Dishman said. “They may have had some trouble with credit or some of them are just in that starting phase of business. So it is not as easy for them to access capital because of where they are in the business cycle.”

The competition has already begun and pitches can still be submitted for consideration until 5 p.m. Nov. 9. After that, 40 entrepreneurs will be selected as finalists with the chance to make their formal pitches in front of a panel of judges comprised of business experts, small business owners and potential investors.

The final pitches will be made during March. Finalists will be split up into two categories based on revenue and how long their businesses have existed. The first-place winner will get the grand prize of $10,000 and three other entrepreneurs will take home grants of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000.

A free information session will be held Wednesday. You can register for the event by clicking here. For more information on the competition itself or to submit a pitch before the deadline, click here.


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