The Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corp. is starting its competitive grant program targeting new women business owners in the State of New Jersey. The grant program, funded by The New Jersey State Department, Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, is geared to small or microbusiness owners who are in the planning stage or have only been operating their business for less than six months.
“The main goal of this project is to provide tools for women to become self-sufficient by owning and successfully operating their own business, thereby investing financially, intellectually and emotionally in their community,” Center Director Penni Nafus said. “It is a competitive program for small grants but it can really make a difference for microbusinesses that can put the money towards acquiring new technologies, for renovations, supplies or inventory.”
Five grants will be offered between $1500 and $7500, but the money cannot be used for general operating expenses. Participants must attend a series of free classes and seminars (totaling approximately 32 hours) that will be presented throughout the state at different locations, and starting in March, they will also be offered online.
Once participants comply with the study hours, they will write and submit a business plan, a grant application, a résumé, and a grant budget. A panel of judges will determine up to five winners, based on the viability of the plan and the grant budget.
According to information from the Department of State, approximately 50 percent of businesses opening in New Jersey are women-owned and more importantly, the large majority belongs to Hispanic women. “We used to see applicants for this program among the very young, recent college grads, and also the 55 and older women. However, these numbers are changing at the lower end due to large student loan’ debt, which prevent them to invest in opening a startup,” Penni said.
Awards will be in the form of cash grants, with the top grant being awarded for $7500. The WCEC is partially funded by the U. S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership and the State of New Jersey. Other business owners are encouraged to attend the seminars even if they are not pursuing the competitive grant program. For registration and information, please visit the Center’s website at www.wcecnj.org or contact the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship at 973-507-9700
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