“Although I have a long way to go, I’ve achieved some huge milestones and now have a system in place to be successful,” says Owner Karwanna Dyson of Big Mouth Productions, who grew up in San Francisco’s 94124 ZIP code, is a first-generation college graduate and is working daily to make her multimedia production company thrive.
Dyson exemplifies the 16 awardees who have each received a much-welcomed mini-grant of up to $5,000 from the San Francisco Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund (SFWEF) — $80K total being disbursed starting in March 2018.
The group gathered for a celebration of “Women’s Entrepreneurship Day” at MEDA’s Plaza Adelante neighborhood center today. The numbers for this group are impressive: These small businesses generated a combined $3+ million in revenue in 2017, supported 68 jobs and have been in business an average of nine years, with 42 percent of owners immigrants and 73 percent women of color.
Monies and oversight come from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), while MEDA leads the administration of grants, in collaboration with community-based technical-assistance providers. The genesis of the grants program was the knowledge that women-owned businesses are vital to San Francisco’s booming economy. They generate jobs. Support families. Revitalize neighborhoods.
Prospective grantees must be nominated by their technical-assistance provider. Proposed uses for the mini-grant can include: technology upgrades for operations; visual merchandising supplies; space improvements; and marketing activities. In addition to providing access to much-needed capital, the program provides no-cost, customized business-development services from community partners.
Pitches are made on a rolling basis, with awardees chosen by an SFWEF committee comprising government, nonprofit and private-sector stakeholders.
“Providing access to opportunities, especially for women in immigrant and low-income communities, ensures that our diverse population can both participate in and benefit from a thriving and inclusive economy,” said Joaquín Torres, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (photo, back row). “Programs like the Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund connect women entrepreneurs to the support they need to keep their businesses strong and serve as anchors in their neighborhoods.”
Echoed MEDA Business Development Program Manager Edwin Rodriguez. “MEDA is proud to be a major part of SFWEF. Our nonprofit has supported small businesses since we started back in 1973, so this aligns with our mission. These women entrepreneurs deserve to be celebrated, as they are creating a generational asset for their family, while also creating jobs for others in the community.”
Grantees to date:
For more information on SFWEF, please contact MEDA Business Development Program Manager Edwin Rodriguez: (415) 282-3334 ext. 102; firstname.lastname@example.org