Fifth Third Bank announced a new $1.2 million program meant to support Black women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
The program, called Innovation meets Main Street: Boosting Black Women-Owned Businesses, will use $630,000 to grant funding to small, female-owned businesses and $250,000 for an investment in the Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in women of color-led businesses seeking financing.
The program is being made possible through grants from Fifth Third to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Association of Enterprise Opportunity’s (AEO) MainStreet Rise program. The remaining funds will support the delivery of technical assistance.
“Our vision for this program was to bring together proven organizations who could help Black- and other minority-owned women entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Fifth Third’s Senior Vice President and Chief Enterprise Responsibility Officer Byna Elliott said in a release. “Not only do these businesses need grants to help weather the health and economic crisis, they also need technical assistance like marketing and digital capabilities as well as venture capital investments. This program is specially designed to help women business owners address their most pressing needs to ensure their sustainability now and in the future.”
Additionally, Fifth Third’s foundation gave AEO $200,000 to provide business owners access to MainStreet RISE, a suite of critical tech-enabled tools and resources to keep businesses existing and selling during and after the pandemic.
The funding also will enable AEO to design the Small Business Resource Navigator, an online interactive tool that directs small businesses to local resources.
Altogether, the program will provide targeted services—grants, technical assistance, or capital infusions—to 35 black- or other minority-owned women entrepreneurs in Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Orlando.
Applications to receive funding via the online portal will open at the beginning of the “State of Black Women-Owned Businesses” webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. EST. The portal will close on Sept. 23.
All eligible applicants will be scored and ranked for selection and will be notified of their acceptance via email.
In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must be but are not limited to: A legal, for-profit business located in one of the seven markets; must be currently operating, not closed; Have a demonstrated record of operating before COVID-19 and was closed due to a local pandemic-related mandate, and in operation for over one year (business launched prior to May 1, 2019); must have a location within a low- and moderate-income census tract and have annual business revenue of less than $1 million.
Those interested can apply here.