Local non-profit readies launch of micro-grant program for St. Clair County entrepreneurs

Sometimes it’s the little things that can change the course of business.

Even in "normal" times, let alone in the days of COVID-19, a spare couple hundred bucks can be hard to come by.

That’s why Blue Water Startups & Entrepreneurs is readying the debut of their micro-grant program for small business owners.

"When I started my first business, a micro-grant could have helped in many different areas. Now as the founder of over five different businesses, I want to help others fulfill their dreams through our non-profit Blue Water Startups & Entrepreneurs," says Matt Brooks, founder and president of Blue Water Startups.

"A big business starts small. Micro-grants are opportunities to grow your success."

With the mission of connecting and growing the entrepreneur community of St. Clair County, the non-profit organization will begin accepting applications for the micro-grant program on Monday, Aug. 17. An Entrepreneur EcoSystem Survey accompanies the application process. The grants are available to St. Clair County-based businesses.

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County gifted the organization $2,000 to fund the grants.

An entrepreneur herself, Kanchan Wankhede serves as vice president of Blue Water Startups. Wankhede says that micro-grants can come in the form of $100 or $200 or more, dependent on what it is that a business needs.

While it may seem a small amount, a micro-grant can make a big difference. New business cards, online courses, social media ads – there’s always something more to do, something else needed.

"I have met a number of people through my work with minority-owned businesses. For example, someone was postponing buying the financial software that they needed. That’s where this idea was triggered," Wankhede says. The Community Foundation of St. Clair County hired Wankhede as a small business consultant for minority-owned businesses earlier this year.

"How do we get these people connected? Let’s show the value of being connected."

That’s where the survey comes in.

For Blue Water Startups, the value of the accompanying survey surpasses even that of the $2,000 they’re giving away.

True to their mission, Blue Water Startups is using the survey to learn more about the small businesses of St. Clair County in hopes to even further nurture and grow the community.

Wankhede stresses that even if a small business owner isn’t interested in applying for the micro-grant, the organization hopes that they will still take the survey. The survey will remain online even after the application window for the micro-grants has closed.

"The grant is connected to the survey. This is about our long-term goal of knowing what entrepreneurs want from the community," Wankhede says.

"Their input will help us in the long run."

Visit www.bluewaterstartups.com to access the survey today. The micro-grant application process, which will also be accessible through the website, opens Monday, Aug. 17, and closes Friday, Aug. 28.