Applicants are now invited to submit applications for the BALSA Foundation’s 2020 Grant program.
The BALSA Grant is designed for first-time St. Louis entrepreneurs wanting to start or grow their early stage business in St. Louis. They welcome applications from all business sectors, and from non-profit as well as for-profit organizations.
The goal of the BALSA Foundation is to empower first-time entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. The BALSA Grant provides resources to first-time entrepreneurs who need and will benefit from them the most.
BALSA Grant finalists receive the following awards:
- Cash grants of $1,000,
- In-kind donations and professional services, including legal, accounting, marketing, and working space,
- BALSA Learning Series workshops about starting a business,
- Opportunities for one-on-one mentoring.
The number or amount of cash awards and professional services will vary depending on availability.
The Foundation welcomes applications from all business sectors, whether for-profit or non-profit, and from everyone regardless of US citizenship.
In general, having team members with the following criteria will make an application Ineligible for the BALSA Grant:
- Having started a successful business before. They wish to exclude serial entrepreneurs and those who were or are making a living from a business they started.
- Having received any outside equity investment, significant outside funding, or a previous BALSA Grant. Financial support from the founders, their family, and personal friends is OK.
- Living outside of the greater St. Louis area. Their aim is to help those in the St. Louis region, broadly defined as residing or operating within 25 miles of St. Louis City Hall.
In the BALSA Grant application the Foundation asks:
- How much grant funding and/or fundraising have you received to pursue your idea? This includes awards, grants, crowdfunding, or fundraising, excluding that from yourself and your family, and personal friends.
- How much equity investment have you received to pursue your idea?
- How much in loans have you obtained to pursue your idea, excluding that from yourself, family, and personal friends?
An external committee of serial entrepreneurs and business leaders review BALSA Grant applications and rank them according to criteria such as:
- How well does the proposed idea/solution address the market need?
- How reasonable and achievable are the milestones and budget?
- Does the team have enough experience and dedication to move this idea forward or demonstrate a way to obtain this experience?
- How well does the applicant fit the mission of The BALSA Foundation?
- How useful would a grant of $1,000, professional services, and mentorship be to the applicant’s success?
Requirements for Grant Recipients
All BALSA Grant finalists are expected to participate in the following programs and events,
- Present a pitch of business at the BALSA Grant awards ceremony,
- Participate in a pitch practice session prior to the awards ceremony,
- Attend the Learning Series, a series of 8-10 classes, which introduce you to the basics of starting a business from business experts. They will announce the Learning Series schedule when they inform you that you are a finalist.
Cash grant recipients must also establish a corporate entity, open a business bank account, and document how the grant was used. You will be asked to sign a contract stating you agree to these responsibilities. They may also invite you to serve as an advisor and mentor for other applicants and participate in future outreach events.
For more information, visit http://www.balsafoundation.org/balsa-grant