[Entrepreneur of the Week] Here’s How Ginjan Bros Won $25,000—You Can Too

Here’s a chance to share your story about your small business and win a cash prize. FedEx is launching its fifth annual Small Business Grant contest, and it has begun accepting entries for a total prize pool of $120,500–the largest sum since the contest’s inception. For the first time this year, the winners will also receive an additional dollar amount in credit to use towards FedEx Office print and business services, in conjunction with the cash prize.


What You Could Win


The awards for FedEx’s Small Business Grant contest include:

  • One grand prize of $25,000, plus $7,500 in FedEx Office print and business services.
  • One runner-up will receive $15,000, plus $5,000 in FedEx Office print and business services.
  • Eight winners will each get $7,500, plus $1,000 in FedEx Office print and business services.


How to Enter the Contest


The 2017 FedEx Small Business Grant contest is open to U.S.-based, forprofit, small businesses with fewer than 99 employees that’s been in operation for six months or more. To enter, participants must visit FedEx’s site and enter their contact information, write a short profile about their business, and upload four photos of their business or product, including their logo.

The number of votes, social media presence, how you are impacting the community, as well as the uniqueness and innovativeness of your business is what FedEx is looking for from applicants, so be sure to have a compelling story. Also, while not required, participants have the option of submitting a 90-second “elevator speech” video to supplement their entry.

The entry period is from February 21 to March 29, 2017, with voting taking place from March 1 to April 5, 2017.


How the Contest Has Helped Small Businesses Grow


Over the past four years, the contest has now grown from one country to nine countries. What’s more, 13,000 businesses have entered the contest in the U.S. alone, and the grant pool for the U.S. contest has grown from $50,000 to more than $120,000 in total prizes.

While most people may see FedEx and think “big business,” FedEx’s Camille Washington reminds us that FedEx Founder Fred Smith started the company as a small business, which has grown into this mega-organization. “But, he has not forgotten the heartbeat of the economy which is small businesses,” explains Washington, manager of Integrated Go-To-Market at FedEx Services. “So, the grant is just one small way that we try to show our support and commitment to small business.”

Since inception, the grant has helped approximately 40 U.S. entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. “Our goal is to get with these small businesses early in their life cycle, so that we can help them grow,” says Washington. She cites the very first grand prize winner, Nicole Snow, founder and CEO of Darn Good Yarn, “which has grown substantially by leveraging our network and services.”


Entrepreneurs Living the American Dream


Through the $25,000 grant, last year’s grand prize winner Ginjan Bros., a Harlem-based small business that produces and bottles organically produced, non-GMO African beverages, was able to ramp up production, both to fill their current orders and produce enough inventory to support expanded distribution. They also put a portion of the cash prize toward securing organic and GMO-free production certifications.

Ginjan Bros. is run by two siblings, Mohammed and Ibrahima (Rahim) Diallo, who are originally from West Africa (Conakry, Guinea), but now, are living the American dream. Using a recipe from their mother that they tweaked, the brothers have created a homemade drink inspired by their motherland.

“Ginger drink is something that we drink a lot of back home, but we could never get a good quality [beverage] here,” says Mohammed.

“I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset,” adds Rahim. “This was a lane that we felt needed improvement.”

Now that Ginjan Bros. knows about the resources FedEx offers to help small businesses with packaging and logistics, the company has lplans in the works to expand its e-commerce business.

For more on Ginjan Bros.’ journey to winning the 2016 FedEx Small Business Grant contest, click here.