PEI

PEI Business Women's Association micro-grant applications now open

The PEI Business Women's Association is now accepting applications for its micro-grant program.

‘These are things that have a significant impact way beyond the cost of a $500 investment’

PEI's Women in Business 2016 micro-grant recipients. (PEIBWA/Twitter)

The PEI Business Women's Association is now accepting applications for its micro-grant program.

The grants of up to $500 each are to help new and established women entrepreneurs, and include business skills support. The association gives the entrepreneurs 75 per cent upfront and the rest after they complete a final report.

This year, submissions will be accepted until June 5. Applicants need to be a member of the association, and no business plan is required upfront.

"Last year, we had almost 30 applications," Hannah Bell, the association's executive director, told CBC Radio. "We're probably thinking that we'd like to see as many again."

Hannah Bell is with the PEI Business Women's Association (CBC)

A jury of women business owners unaffiliated with the organization will look through the applications and decide who will receive the grants. Like last year, the association will hand out five grants.

Bell says that two past grant recipients have already made it onto her board of directors and the grants have also gone on to help many other women on the Island.

"We've had everything from a crafter who was looking at expanding their inventory, to somebody who was using it for branding and marketing," Bell said. "These are all things that have a significant impact way beyond the cost of a $500 investment."

'Not at a level playing field'

The organization's focus on women is something The PEI Business Women's Association gets asked about a lot, Bell said, but she says the now over 400-member organization is necessary because women are still at a disadvantage in the business world.

"It's not at a level playing field yet. We hear all the time that there's an inequality in terms of things like the pay gap," Bell said. "We're seeing a 20 per cent difference in wages, but we also see a difference in the supports that are available to women."

Women tend to open businesses that don't tend to fit into the same boxes that are currently getting funded, she added, which may mean funding and government support may not be there in the same capacity as they might be for men.

The PEI Business Women's Association bridges the gap by providing that funding, she says, but also provides training and networking for its members.

"It's not just money, it's training and connecting people with other resources that they might need."

With files from Angela Walker

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