When Fearless Yaya founder Sandra Diaz learned she would receive a $20,000 grant to support her stationery startup, she was moved.
“This is going to completely change everything for me,” she said, explaining that the money would go a long way in helping her disrupt her industry, scale her business and reach new customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diaz, a Latina entrepreneur empowering and celebrating Latinx communities through her company, is one of the hundreds of small business owners who received grants administered by the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s Small Business Grants Program in 2020-2021. The program provides direct support to entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic and other significant challenges.
Since launching the program, the Global Entrepreneurship Network has collaborated with more than eight partners including Hello Alice, KKR, Verizon, eBay, UBS, Mastercard, BGE and Danny Garcia, founder of Seven Bucks Production with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Through the financial support of these partners, GEN has administered over $7 million in emergency funds to more than 500 entrepreneurs around the world.
The grants, issued in rounds, range from $10,000 to $20,000 with a priority of supporting founders from under-represented groups. Two-thirds of the recipients are female and more than half are of diverse ethnicities. For many, the funding has been a lifeline during challenging times, allowing them to continue to pay employees, hire new staff, and develop new products or services. Seventy-five percent of the recipients of grants from GEN, KKR and Hello Alice said the money was the difference-maker in allowing their businesses to stay open.
This was the case for Gary Carter, owner of Sitpinyo Muay Thai and Fitness in Hong Kong, which lost revenue during multiple economic shutdowns. “We are a small business without any investors to fall back on, so this grant will go a long way towards keeping my business afloat,” he said.
For Kristin Kagetsu, co-founder and CEO of Saathi, a social enterprise that makes eco-friendly hygiene products from locally sourced banana fiber, the grant meant her company was able to provide underprivileged women in India with access to a one-year supply of sanitary pads.
“This will also impact farmer incomes and employ women from underprivileged communities in our manufacturing facility,” she said.
Despite being an essential service provider during the pandemic, Guestwick, England-based Orange Fox Electrical was forced to furlough staff and pivot operations due to cash flow challenges. Now, the company is scaling with support from a grant.
“Our business is in a period of rapid growth and your contribution to has allowed us to deepen partnerships that will give us access to a wider audience,” said Karen Harris, co-founder and managing director. “It has also helped with recruitment. It has been an amazing journey and one which we are truly grateful for.”
New rounds of funding will be available in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. Stay tuned to GEN’s e-newsletter and social media channels to be the first to know about new opportunities.