As we go through the Amber Grant applications each week, we’re always inspired by the dreams and stories we read from women business grant seekers. There are some recurring themes that we’ve noticed. And we think some of these themes are worth highlighting because they make women entrepreneurs distinct from many of their male counterparts.
(Actually, we wanted to say these themes make women entrepreneurs “better” than their male counterparts, but we don’t want to sound self-righteous – or offend the beloved men in our lives!).
Anyway – we’ll let you decide if you see yourself in any of these characteristics. Not coincidentally, we’ve had three previous grant winners fall into each of these categories. So if you’re a women looking for a business grant, what you learn here might help.
- Socially Centered ideas: Yes, there are many great businesses that promote environmental sustainability and social responsibility while pursuing profits in traditional industries. These are companies that work to reduce paper and ink consumption. Or they may be coffee shops that use only fair trade coffee. We at Womensnet.net applaud those businesses and their sensitivity to operating as responsible corporate neighbors. But what we see among our applicants are women owned businesses whose goods and services are specifically geared toward promoting a greater social good. One of our favorites is a small business – thegreenduck.com –that sells compostable cutlery, cups, plates and a host of other items. Green Duck founder, Jocelyn Tice, is a 2010 Amber Grant winner. It always makes us smile when we see women owned businesses that are trying to do good for the rest of us – while still earning a profit. We’ll feature more of these businesses in the coming months on our womensnet.net blog. We want to make sure these women get some well-earned accolades.
- Nurturing Ideas: We’ve noticed a lot of women owned businesses that create a service geared toward nurturing relationships. Whether it’s an intimate apparel line of clothing… or sharing the kind of comfort food that your grandmother used to make… or business ideas that focus on moms and young kids…. we have seen hundreds of businesses and business ideas that are inspired by and focused on nurturing relationships. A few months ago, Ellen Richard was awarded an Amber Grant to help her business, Letterlearning.com. Ellen is a former teacher and young mother who came up with the idea of selling “educational greeting cards.” The big idea is to let kids be creative while teaching them spelling and penmanship. As Ellen explained it, “It was on maternity leave that the idea for Letter Learning struck me like a ton of bricks. While on a walk, I caught myself thinking about my students and their struggles with, well, everything, but especially literacy. Also on my mind were the many thank you cards I needed to write on behalf of [my daughter] Katie. That intersection of thinking was it!! EDUCATIONAL GREETING CARDS. What’s not to love? I get to combine 3 of my greatest passions. Education, kids and cards.”
- Fun Ideas: Got any social things that you love to do? Travel? Shop? Hiking? Dating? Just about anything that you do for fun, you can also do for profit. The best example of this was our July 2009 Amber Grant winner. Maia Josebachvilli, founder of Urban Escapes, took her passion for traveling and social adventure and parlayed it into a hugely successful business. Her big idea? Maia offered urban professionals in Manhattan the chance to escape New York City for a weekend, and spend time in the Catskill Mountain-region hiking, biking, and going to social events – basically spending time outdoors, and outside the city, with other people. Folks had so much fun that Urban Escapes was acquired by Living Social in October of 2010. So what do you love to do? Can you turn it into a business and share it with other folks?