Home Fairfield WBDC announces $400K in grants being awarded to 44 women-owned businesses around...

WBDC announces $400K in grants being awarded to 44 women-owned businesses around state

Women’s Business Development Council Founder and CEO Fran Pastore announced this morning that $400,000 in grants to 44 recipients is being awarded to women-owned businesses in Connecticut through WBDC’s Equity Match Grant Program.

Clockwise from top left: WBDC’s Brenda Thickett; WBDC’s Fran Pastore; grant recipient Alisa Bowens-Mercado of Rhythm Brewing in New Haven; Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz; DECD Deputy Commissioner Glendowlyn Thames.

Pastore was joined virtually by Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, and Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Deputy Commissioner Glendowlyn Thames.

The Equity Match Grant Program, which was officially launched in January, was created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and designed to provide cash grants to women entrepreneurs disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. 

Pastore noted that the program was essentially established within 48 hours of initial discussions with Bysiewicz.

Grants of up to $10,000 are contingent upon the businesses having “skin in the game,” Pastore said: They must contribute 25% of the grant amount to the project. As an example, she said, if an applicant is looking to procure $10,000 worth of equipment, they must provide $2,500.

Roughly 32% of the 44 recipients are minorities, Pastore noted, which has been one of the program’s goals.

Although confidentiality requirements precluded naming which companies had received the funds, the WBDC provided a list of communities where they are located; those include Bridgeport, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull and Weston.

The lieutenant governor said one of the driving factors behind the creation of the program was the fact that about 60,000 businesses around the state had received loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, but that “the lion’s share went to white-owned businesses and male-owned businesses.”

More than a dozen banks and financial institutions were approached about providing funds to the program, Bysiewicz said, “and nobody said, ‘No.’”

She and Pastore credited Webster Bank with being a key catalyst, as it was the first bank to invest in the program. Bysiewicz said that without its initial $100,000, other banks, foundations and individuals may have been more reluctant to step forward.

All told, Bysiewicz and Pastore have raised almost $700,000 in funds, which DECD will match dollar-for-dollar. Pastore also noted that not a single dollar raised goes to overhead or salary.

A second round of grants is in the works, according to WBDC Vice President, Programs and Business Services Brenda Thickett. With applications likely starting to be accepted in June, she said that businesses should be readying their business plan, past financial statements, current financial projections, and proposed use of funds.

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