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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.

The Creative Economic Development Fund (CEDF) targets independent businesses, self-employed artists or cultural producers, artist collectives or nonprofits with earned income to receive one of eight grants of up to $12,500.

CEDF’s objective is to support creative enterprises that will have a positive economic development impact in the ity of Los Angeles. In selecting the initiatives for funding, priority consideration is given to enterprises and their projects that benefit economically-disadvantaged communities or impact the thoroughfares of the City’s Great Streets Initiative. Eligible enterprises must be based in the arts, culture or independent design; apply commercial strategies that make or will make a positive economic contribution to the city; have owners (or at least one) who based in Los Angeles—either currently living and/or working in Los Angeles County; have five or fewer employees; be in good standing with the City of Los Angeles.

The deadline for submissions is set for late February and one information session is expected to be held to explain the program.

Additional information is available by contacting artists manager, Allison Wyper at www.cciart.org or by calling (213) 687-8577. The city is planning a series of corresponding training workshops: The Business of Art – Entrepreneurial Training for Artists.

*Another contest, Technovation, has partnered with Google’s Made with Code and gives girls ages 10 to 18 a chance to identify a problem in their community and create a mobile app solution to address that problem. They also learn how to communicate these ideas and translate them into a fully launched business.

To register, go to info@technovationchallenge.org. Registration closes March 8.

In 2017, teams will choose from six themes to consider as they develop their app and business plan. The problem the app solves should fall into one of the following categories: Poverty, the environment, peace, equality, education, and health.

The 10 submissions that score highest will be invited to attend the Technovation World Pitch conference in San Francisco on Aug. 7 to 11. For additional information go to http://www.technovationchallenge.org.

The Business of Art is designed to enhance the business skills of artists and creative entrepreneurs.

As a Business of Art student, you will learn key skills that will provide you with the knowledge and resources to help advance your art career, develop your ideas, and increase your financial independence. Business of Art” workshop sessions are taught by arts and business leaders with both commercial and nonprofit experience. During eight workshops, you will learn key concepts involved in goal-setting, marketing and self-promotion, money management, legal issues, strategic planning and project financing. In the final session, all students will have the opportunity to receive feedback and insights in small group Cluster Counseling sessions with leading arts and business professionals. To supplement the program, you will also receive a copy of “The Business of Art: An Artist’s Guide to Profitable Self-Employment, a CCI publication now in its second edition.

Workshops begin Tuesday, Feb. 28. The sessions are:

Session 1: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 6:30-9:30p.m. The Business of Art: Presenting Yourself as an Artist.

Session 2: Saturday, March 4, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Where Do I Begin? Setting Your Personal Goals.

Session 3: Tuesday, March 7 , 6:30-9:30 p.m. Marketing and Promoting Yourself, Your Art, or Your Arts Business.

Session 4: Tuesday, March 14, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Financial Literacy and Money Consciousness for Artists.

Session 5: Tuesday, March 21, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Legal Issues for Artists

Session 6: Tuesday, March 28, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Financing Your Arts Project or Business.

Session 7: Tuesday, April 4, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Where Do I Go From Here? Strategic Planning.

Session 8: Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Cluster Counseling and Final Wrap-Up.