The Power of Microenterprise Grant Programs
COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis negatively impacted solo, micro and small businesses. However, with government programs such as the Payroll Protection Programs and Economic Injury Disaster Loans many small businesses were able to survive. In fact, a Hamilton Project analysis found as of December 2021 there are nearly 450,000 more establishments in operation than prior to the pandemic.
So, does that mean governments should ease back their roll in helping microbusinesses succeed? Maybe not. There are many microbusinesses (businesses with less than 5 employees) who are still dealing with issues that prohibit success. As interest rates climb, banks are starting to get more choosey about who they are lending money to, and consumers are starting to watch how they are spending their money. There is still low unemployment which also makes it hard for small businesses to recruit employees. This combination will make 2023 challenging for many micro-businesses.
What are Microenterprise Grant Programs?
Microenterprise Grant Programs help microenterprises start and grow. There are numerous types of programs with various objectives:
- Create new jobs for low to moderate income employees.
- Provide training and technical assistance.
- Purchase equipment, fixtures, furniture, supplies, and raw material.
- Help businesses do scientific research and development.
The grant amounts range from $5,000 – $25,000 and are quite competitive. They are usually federal or state funded with the moneys obtained and dispersed by Economic Development Organizations or other non-profit organizations.
Can Microenterprise Marketing Grants Help Businesses?
When money starts to tighten, one of the first budgets that micoenterprises usually cut is marketing. It’s easy to understand this, especially if they need to choose between marketing and paying rent, employees and sometimes simply keeping food on their own tables. The thing is, studies have shown that for a business to succeed and thrive, they in fact must invest more in marketing. They can focus on keeping their current customers, to see a quicker return on their investment. But keeping a steady stream of new customers is ideal and should be part of the overall marketing goal.
In 2022, KathodeRay has helped several businesses who were awarded Microenterprise Marketing Grants. We’ll be doing the same in 2023. Here’s a list of marketing projects we have assisted with that have been paid for by marketing grants:
- Real Estate Company
- We created and managed a digital ad campaign on Facebook and Instagram, that encouraged prospects to download an informational eBook we created.
- B&B Inn
- We registered the business on social media channels, created a social media calendar and taught the business owner how to post to Instagram and Facebook. We also made strategic upgrades to their current website.
- Wedding Venue
- We launched a new website that showcases their venue, updated social media channels and taught the owner how to post to Instagram and Facebook.
Choosing a Marketing Agency to Assist with Marketing Grants
If your economic agency is planning to help microbusinesses with marketing grants, it is helpful for the businesses to have a list of vendors to choose from. Marketing agencies can be a useful resource for the small businesses, especially those that specialize in microbusinesses.
As part of your process, the business owners should be educated on the different types of agencies so they can make the best choice for them. Some agencies specialize in business verticals but offer a wide range of services. Others focus on specific marketing tasks such as website design and development or pay-per-click ads, but can work with a wide variety of businesses verticals.
The marketing agency chosen by the microenterprise should not only have experience in that business type, but also have experience in the marketing tactics needed by the business. Finally, the business owner should feel comfortable with the team they hire, so they can communicate and learn from each other.
Funding Sources and Resources
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program
- Small Business Association
- National Institute of Health
- Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer
- Empire State Development
If you would like to have your Funding Source or Resource added, please send us the information using our Contact Us form.
Topics: Economic Development