The Small Business Administration and a number of organizations feature competitions that give prospective entrepreneurs an opportunity to win funds to launch a small business.
*The Aspire Challenge for Entrepreneurship Training and Microloan targets previously incarcerated individuals and the SBA has received $1.2 million to fund up to 16 nonprofit/not for profit or city entities.
The selected organizations must have an account with the System for Award Management (SAM) and will receive up to $75,000 to create a training program. Then the individual programs will make microloans of up to $50,000 to the formerly incarcerated owners.
- The SBA will award prizes to entrepreneurial support organizations through an online competition format, www.challenge.gov.
Interested individual programs/organizations can submit a proposal to provide entrepreneurial training and microloan funding, and the deadline to apply is Feb. 12. Winners should be announced no later than March 14.
- InnovateHER is an SBA competition that gives women business owners at all stages of development with an innovative product or service the rare opportunity to win direct funding from the SBA. The competition helps impact and empower the lives of women and their families. Organizations can apply to be a local host and must submit their winners no later than May 12. Host organizations must select and submit one winner from the local competition along with a nomination package to SBA through the Challenge.gov website. The nomination package must contain all of the following:
A single cover page detailing the name of the winning individual (in the case of a winning team; company name (if applicable); product/service name; company address and contact info;
The host organization’s official legal name, street address, city, state, designated POC, and his/her best contact number and e-mail address (note: this information must match the information provided by the organization as part of its request to SBA to host a local competition);
A concise, two-sentence description of the product or service (note: this description may also be used in promotional or informational materials in connection with InnovateHER).
A business plan from the winning individual/team (maximum length: 20 pages, including attachments.
A signed statement of support prepared by the host organization that explains why the winner of the local competition best satisfied the challenge criteria and presented the greatest potential for success (maximum length: two pages).
Up to 10 semi-finalists will be invited to the national challenge, where entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas. Winners will receive $40,000 for first place, $20,000 for second and $10,000 for third at the national level.
Last year the InnovateHER challenge reached more than 2,000 women entrepreneurs, including those who participated in the final competition in Washington, D.C. The local competitions are planned for April 29 with the finalists being submitted to the national office by May 12. The finalists from each of the local competitions will pitch their businesses live on July 27.
- A new program under the Center for Cultural Innovation is launching its third year of operations designed to provide financing to startup and expanding micro enterprises in the city of Los Angeles that are new or have five or fewer employees.