Women’s Business Development Council Grant Program Continues to Fuel Economic Growth for Connecticut Women-Owned Businesses
The Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) today announced that it has received a $300,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase to support its Equity Match Grant (EMG) Program.
The WBDC Equity Match Grant Program was created to catalyze growth for women-owned businesses in Connecticut. The program provides grants between $2,500 and $10,000 to fund clearly defined projects that will have a measurable impact on the business, its growth and profitability.
Since December 2020, 98 grants have been awarded, providing $924K to small businesses throughout the state. This includes 42 businesses that were awarded grants in December 2021, as part of the program’s third round. Applications for the fourth round will be accepted from January 17 through February 13, 2022.
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).
“Small businesses account for almost 50% of our state’s employment, and we all know the incredibly tough few years these businesses have endured,” said Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz. “The WBDC has been an incredible leader and partner with our state for decades, and this grant from JPMorgan Chase will help further the shared mission of providing opportunity, training, and education for women who own or choose to open a business.”
The investment from JPMorgan Chase aims to increase the capacity of WBDC to empower Connecticut’s women entrepreneurs, especially disenfranchised populations and those in distressed communities. The grant program’s success is due to the coupling of flexible capital with technical assistance for these business owners focused on leadership, business and financial planning, human resources, networking and mentorship opportunities.
“This generous support from JPMorgan Chase will allow us to continue to get needed resources to Connecticut’s small businesses,” said WBDC CEO and Founder Fran Pastore. “It also symbolizes a long-standing partnership between our organizations,” she added. “WBDC is celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2022. Our first business checking account was opened at the Chase branch on Prospect Street in Stamford – with a $60 deposit. We still have that account. This is a meaningful way to celebrate this milestone with an organization that has been with us from the beginning.”
“Unlocking the potential of women-led businesses is a direct path forward to creating greater economic equity especially during this time of recovery from the Covid pandemic and given the critical role small businesses play in Connecticut’s economy,” said Laura Davis, Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Private Bank. “The Women’s Business Development Council is a true partner in helping women, specifically women of color, access the resources and support needed to launch and grow their ventures.”
Round 3 grant recipients included:
• A vegetable and flower farm and farm stand in Farmington who is using her grant for a hay wagon to offer classic hay rides to the pumpkin patch, and deer fencing to expand the land she is farming and protect the crops
• A hair braiding studio in Bridgeport who is using her grant to improve her marketing and expand into selling hair products
• A dog training and services business in New London who is using her grant to improve the company’s website and marketing
• A bakery in Glastonbury who is using her grant to purchase a walk-in cooler to store ingredients and frozen baked goods to help expand their capacity
Among recipients from the first two rounds:
• 71% of businesses have increased their revenues since receiving the grant
• 56% increased their profits
• 44% created jobs – 76 new jobs across 23 companies
“The WBDC Equity Match Grant allowed me to put in place systems that have streamlined and optimized our sales process,” said Paula Pierce, owner of Hosting Connecticut LLC, of the impact the grant has had on her website design and hosting company. “Without the extra 'push' of preparing to apply for this grant, I would have less specific financial data and fewer strategic plans to use to grow the business. I'm grateful for WBDC, not just for the funds, but for the extra motivation,” she added.
The application period for the next round of Equity Match Grants opens on January 17. WBDC will be hosting several information sessions to help businesses prepare to apply. For dates and times of those sessions, visit https://ctwbdc.org/class-listings/. For additional information on the EMG program, including eligibility requirements, visit https://ctwbdc.org/equity-match-grant-program/.