weVENTURE Awarded $420K to Expand Support for Pandemic-Affected Businesses

Federal Grant to Fund Business
Participation in Mentoring Program

MELBOURNE, FLA. — weVENTURE, the Women’s Business Center at Florida Tech’s Bisk College of Business, has been awarded $420,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration under the federal CARES Act to expand its services assisting small businesses in Brevard, Indian River and St. Lucie counties in responding to and recovering from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among its primary benefits, the funding will allow weVENTURE to fully fund the participation of 31 businesses in the center’s celebrated IGNITE 360® Mentoring Program, which takes business owners through an intensive planning and implementation process that addresses specific, critical actions necessary to ensure sustainable growth. 

IGNITE 360® provides tailored tracks for small start-ups, emerging businesses and large second-stage companies, with each participant getting access to their own customized board of expert advisors for monthly meetings to address current challenges and assess next steps to reach desired business outcomes. 

Congress appropriated $25 million in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for Women’s Business Centers around the nation to expand programming and services. weVENTURE submitted a program plan and was awarded a $420,000 grant on May 1.

weVENTURE also secured a $25,000 donation from Bisk Ventures and $16,500 from the Wells Fargo Foundation in support of their mission to support female entrepreneurs.

“During normal circumstances, weVENTURE helps women launch and grow their businesses,” said weVENTURE Executive Director Kathryn Rudloff. “However, in times of crisis, we accelerate our role helping entrepreneurs sustain their business by providing access to the information and resources they need to survive these unforeseen challenges. We are grateful to Congress and the Administration, as well as Bisk Ventures and the Wells Fargo Foundation, for supporting the work of Women’s Business Centers in this meaningful way.”

In addition to funding IGNITE 360® participation, these grants will allow weVENTURE to enhance other services for businesses in its SBA-defined region of Brevard, Indian River and St. Lucie counties.

Those include:

  • Increased capacity for personalized business coaching. weVENTURE will hire temporary staff to serve as business coaches.Coaches work one-on-one with entrepreneurs, helping with initial general concerns and then developing an Individualized Entrepreneurial Plan for each client to help establish goals, measure progress and define benchmarks for transitioning from Emergency Service Programs to regular Women’s Business Center programming. 
  • Increased capacity to provide educational training and information sessions focused on helping businesses respond to the pandemic. weVENTURE will create teams of subject-matter experts comprised of business professionals, consultants and faculty from the Florida Tech’s Bisk College of Business to provide more in-depth education and training to business owners. After a client has been classified as coronavirus-impacted by our business coaches, they may opt into free programming specific to their needs. These experts will facilitate webinars and eventually in-person classes or sessions on topics ranging from how to re-open safely to the management and practice of telework.

weVENTURE will continue to host programming catered to aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups, as well as purposeful networking events for professional women as part of its ongoing Women’s Business Center program.  

“weVENTURE will continue to be a resource for small-business owners who are facing uncertainty during the coming year,” Rudloff said. “Our staff is available for phone or web consultations as we expand capacity to meet the needs of clients throughout our service area. No matter what your business is facing, weVENTURE is here to help.”

Updates will be posted at weVENTURE.fit.edu and sent out via the weVENTURE newsletter and social media accounts. For more information, contact weVENTURE business coach Jeannette Kraar at jkraar@fit.edu.


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