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Initiative Quarterly

Microenterprise Grant Opportunity Announced

May 9, 2022

Note: The application window for this grant opportunity has now closed.

Grant Opportunity: Microenterprise Funding for Central Minnesota Small Businesses

LITTLE FALLS, MN—The Initiative Foundation is pleased to announce a special one-time round of funding to invest in Central Minnesota's smallest businesses as they work to recover from the pandemic.

Thanks to a special grant from the Otto Bremer Trust, one-time grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to businesses that suffered pandemic-related disruptions and losses. This $500,000 program is designed to support fair economic recovery in Central Minnesota. The grants will focus on small businesses that face barriers to accessing capital and other resources and which suffered setbacks during the pandemic.

This program is designed to support microenterprise businesses with five or fewer full-time employees and less than $750,000 in annual gross revenue. The effort will prioritize businesses …

  • owned by women, veterans, and community members of color
  • located in small towns and rural areas
  • that opened just prior to or in the early stages of the pandemic
  • that did not access or were not eligible for prior government COVID-19 relief programs.

The application will close at noon on Friday, June 10, with awards announced by late June. Businesses without full-time employees may receive up to $5,000, and businesses with full-time employees may be eligible for up to $10,000.

Public question-and-answer sessions will be offered via the Zoom videoconferencing platform from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, and from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 2. Find registration links at ifound.org/microenterprise. Recordings will be available for subsequent online viewing.

Use of Funds

Funds can be used for a range of past, current or future expenses. This could include operational expenses such as payroll, mortgage, rent or utilities, equipment and supplies, inventory, and other expenses. Additional eligible expenses could include cleaning, equipment, supplies, or infrastructure, or it could offset pandemic-related costs such as digital technologies, website and online infrastructure, marketing to new customers, health and safety upgrades, and others. Owners simply need to make the case that their investment will support the health and viability of their business.

We anticipate awarding up to 70 small business grants and expect this to be a highly competitive grant cycle in which we will be unable to fund every inquiry. Applications will be scored based on the priorities outlined above and on the following eligibility requirements:

  • The business is considered a microenterprise with five or fewer full-time employees and annual gross revenue less than $750,000.
  • The business owner can demonstrate annual revenue of at least $25,000.
  • The business is owned and operated by resident(s) of, and physically located within, the Initiative Foundation's region of 14 counties and two sovereign tribal nations in Central Minnesota.
  • The business was operating during the pandemic and is currently open.
  • The business owner is able to demonstrate at least one impact caused by the pandemic such as closure orders, loss of revenue, increased costs, etc.


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