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The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas has launched Women Owned, an assistance fund for women-owned small businesses experiencing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foundation will be awarding $5,000 grants through the fund to businesses that are 100% owned by one or more women and employ 50 or fewer employees. In addition, 75% of the grants will be awarded to businesses that are at least 51% owned by a woman of color.
With an initial investment from WFA’s grant pool and from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the fund is halfway to its goal of $100,000, which would provide assistance to 20 businesses.
WMF Executive Director Anna Beth Gorman said the foundation would typically award grants at the end of the year but had the opportunity to do something now “to hopefully help some of our women-owned businesses survive this, what we hope to be a temporary economic climate.”
“Access to capital, women have historically been at a disadvantage. It’s difficult
for a woman to go in and ask for capital when starting a business. Add on the lens of race and ethnicity, it is even more challenging for women of color to get access to capital,” she said.
“So what’s happening right now with the federal relief funding, that’s going to go to businesses that have existing relationships with bank partners. We feel like our brand could potentially
be a bridge to those businesses that specifically have been at a disadvantage. And, in turn, we can potentially direct them to resources that will help them navigate federal relief funding.”
The Women Owned fund is also open to public donations.
Applications for the first round of funding are open now and will close at noon on April 13. Grantees receiving the first round of funding will be notified by April 17.
Apply for a grant or contribute to the fund here.