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SBA announces $30M in grants for new Women’s Business Centers

The funding will go to support centers focused on federal contracting, child care businesses and expansion to the U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced four funding opportunities for Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) totaling $30 million. This includes funding to support further expansion of the WBC network, the opening of a WBC in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and first-time specialized funding for centers that focus on federal contracting and child care businesses.

The SBA also announced that WBC funding will now be available to organizations that provide mostly or entirely virtual counseling and training services to women-owned small businesses. This recognizes the increasing importance of digital services and expands the SBA’s reach to entrepreneurs who may not have convenient access to the current WBC network, including women in rural communities, tribal lands and military families.

These specialized WBCs will join a network of 152 in-person WBCs in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Eligible applicants must be nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status that provide entrepreneurial development services to women, specifically women in areas that have been socially and economically disadvantaged within the U.S. and its territories.

Eligible organizations that are selected will be awarded up to $150,000 to open and operate a WBC.

The four funding opportunities include:

  • Funding to support women business owners in government contracting, specifically to assist them with application readiness for certification in the Women-Owned Small Business and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business Programs, procurement assistance and entrepreneurial development.
  • Funding to provide entrepreneurial development services to women-owned small businesses focused on providing childcare services.
  • Funding to provide general entrepreneurial development services to women, with an emphasis on socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs in locations outside of the geographical areas of existing WBCs within the United States and its territories and the option to provide mostly or entirely virtual services.
  • Funding to support the opening of a WBC in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Local SBA encourages participation in ‘Mujer Capital’ event
In related news, looking to connect financial institutions with women entrepreneurs who have business plans and are looking for capital, or have existing businesses that need funds to expand, the SBA in Puerto Rico is encouraging participation in the second edition of the “Mujer Capital” event organized by the Metro Women’s Business Center. The event is scheduled for June 14 at the TRYP by Wyndham Isla Verde at 8:30 a.m.

The program will include access to capital workshops and one-on-one meetings of participants with representatives of financial institutions.

“There is a need to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs who still face unique obstacles in the business world to achieve equality that suits their needs and helps them successfully navigate through the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This event fosters the necessary resources to be available to those who need them and empowers our socioeconomically disadvantaged communities,” said Josué E. Rivera, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands SBA’s district director, who stressed that businesses that receive assistance from Women’s Business Centers see a significantly better success rate than those that do not have similar support.

Entrepreneurs in the San Juan metro area who have a business plan will be able to meet with various financial institutions and learn about their financing products, the federal agency stated.

Meanwhile, visitors from other municipalities and entrepreneurs without the necessary documentation will be able to participate in several information panels by numerous experts and will be able to expand their network of contacts in a unique event in the area.

The agenda will include the participation of Xiomara González-López, speaker at Chick-fil-A, an institution that this year awarded the True Inspiration Award to the nonprofit Friends of Puerto Rico, recognizing its work supporting entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico.

Also participating are Román Leal, from Leap Global Partners and investor from Silicon Valley. In addition, entities such as Banco Popular, COOPACA, CustoCoop, Lendreams, FirstBank, Oriental, PathStone, VAPR Federal Credit Union, among other financial institutions, will attend.

In the first edition held in 2023, $90,000 was approved in capital infusion related to the event, the SBA confirmed. More than 100 participants benefited from one-on-one appointments with providers and informational talks.

In this new edition of the event, seed money will be awarded to Kauffman FastTrac 2024 graduate participants.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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