HARTFORD, Conn. — Thousands of businesses were impacted by the pandemic, and the Women’s Business Development Council’s Equity Match Grant Program was specifically created to fund women entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic.
Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz said this grant program came about after the first round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPE) funding was announced.
"Out of the 60,000 businesses from Connecticut that received federal funding, they were largely male-owned," Bysiewicz explained.
She said 80% were men, and 84% of the businesses were owned by white people.
"When we saw this, we said wait a minute," Bysiewicz added. "We know that those who own businesses, who are people of color are struggling too. We need to create a program that addresses the needs of women business owners, particularly women of color."
Between Bysiewicz and Fran Pastore, CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC), they raised $1 million in funds for the program.
They were then matched dollar-for-dollar by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
Owner and chef Beca Tuinei of Nala’s Kitchen is a recipient of the grant. She said as a local meal preparation business, they were putting out hundreds of meals a week. However, funds were limited with how they were able to promote and market.
"We have the Kitchen; we have the staff, we have all that. It's just getting our word out," Tuinei said. "And when we came across this grant, we were shocked, and we only had to put how much in to match it? It was really life-changing."
Tuinei said she put down $2,2500 and received $10,000 used for marketing and said she saw a 75% increase in business.
"I'm really grateful that the WBDC has created this to kind of start that equality," she added. "It has changed my life tremendously. To be given different opportunities and to think out of the box for marketing campaigns too."
To date, approximately $550,000 has been awarded to 50 women-owned small businesses throughout Connecticut.
The third round of grant applications is now being accepted through September 28. For more information about the Equity Match Grant Program, click here.
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