The San Francisco Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund FAQs

The San Francisco Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund (SFWEF)
Small-Business Technical Assistance Provider Role

Participants must be nominated by a nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance to established and operating businesses in the city of San Francisco to be eligible. To nominate an entrepreneur, technical assistance providers should complete the following steps:

  1. Submit a nomination letter for women entrepreneurs that have been working with the provider for at least three months with a total of at least eight hours of business consulting. The letter should include, but not be limited to:
    a. Summary of the business to date,
    b. Extent of relationship between the applicant and TA provider,
    c. Financial Health Analysis, and
    d. Findings, if any.
  2. Submit a full Individualized Business Development Action Plan;
  3. Submit a SFWEF Action Plan;
  4. Assist their nominee(s) with the grant application and presentation;
  5. Sign the participant’s application;
  6. Submit the most recent P&L and the 12 months’ sales forecast; and
  7. Commit to continue working with the participant for at least 6 months if the participant receives a mini-grant.

An Individualized Business Development Action Plan (IBDAP) is a working document that outlines attainable objectives and specific tasks to address your client’s overall business goals, informed by your conversations with client. As you and your client work toward the objectives in this plan, the business owner will continue to develop their business skills and resiliency. The SFWEF Action Plan items should be excerpted from the full IBDAP.

FAQs

Who is a technical assistance Provider?
A nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance to small businesses legally registered and operating in San Francisco.

Can the technical assistance provider nominate more than one entrepreneur?
Yes.

How established should the businesses be?
Businesses in operation for at least 12 months or more are eligible to participate. The business has a current lease with at least 18 months remaining, if applicable.

Is the grant funding for a specific industry?
No, we welcome all types of women-owned businesses.

Can family-owned businesses or partnerships apply?
Yes, as long as a woman has 50% ownership. The woman should not be a silent (investment only) partner. The woman would need to be active in the business decision-making process and present at the pitch event.

Can trans women apply?
Yes.

When will mini-grant funds be disbursed to grantees?
Funding will be disbursed immediately following the approval of a grant project. A check for the full amount requested will be made to the business or business owner.

What can the mini-grant fund?
Business operations improvements: marketing, financial/accounting, new equipment and/or technology, trainings, and networking. Visual merchandising, space improvements, and marketing: window displays, lighting, signage, layout improvements, design changes, online marketing, trade shows, other marketing and customer acquisition opportunities. TA provider service fees are not covered by this grant.

What is the criteria used to evaluate the grant applications?
The selection committee will evaluate applications and pitch presentations using the criteria outlined in the attached scoring sheet. The mini-grant should fund a significant portion of the proposed project or the entire project. Participants should receive the committee’s decision within a month of their pitch.

How long is each pitch presentation?
Each entrepreneur will have 15 minutes to pitch and five minutes of Q&A.

Is the TA provider required to be present during the pitch?
The TA provider is not required to be present, but is welcome to attend.

Is the grantee required to submit a report of project completion?
Yes, a one-page summary report that highlights the impact of the grant should be submitted upon completion of the project.

Is there a specific format for the pitch presentations?
Once you are scheduled for the presentation, you will receive an outline to prepare it. Please try to make it visual and engaging showing preparation. A/V is available, if needed. An interpreter can be available upon request. Please make presentation arrangements with MEDA Business Development Program Manager Edwin Rodriguez: (415) 282-3334 ext. 102, erodriguez@medasf.org.

Who will judge the applications?
We are pleased to have the volunteer judges listed below.

  1. Beth Pride, Owner of BPE Global
  2. Holly Lung, Office of Economic and Workforce Development
  3. Kate Ganim, LNMOP Design
  4. Gwendolyn Wright, Business Consultant
  5. Viridiana Ponce, Business Consultant
  6. Zenaida Merlin, Owner of D’Maize Restaurant

The San Francisco Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund Monthly Pitch Description

What to expect:
The judging committee, small business technical assistance providers, and entrepreneurs will convene once a month at the Mission Economic Development Agency, 2301 Mission Street, Suite 301, San Francisco, CA 94110. Three small-business women entrepreneurs nominated by a local small-business technical assistance provider will pitch projects for a mini-grant of up to $5,000 to support the growth of their business. Each participant will have 15 minutes to present and five minutes of Q&A with a panel of judges.

All participants will be notified of the judging committee’s decision within a month of their presentation. Entrepreneurs interested in participating are encouraged to reach out to a small business technical assistance provider for eligibility details.

Time and dates are TBD.

MEDA San Francisco District of Economic and Workforce Development