coronavirus

TWU Launches $1M Grant Program to Help Women-Owned Small Businesses Struggling Due to Coronavirus

One hundred grants worth $10,000 each are available through the new program, university officials say

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A North Texas university has launched a grant to help women-owned small businesses that have taken financial hits due to COVID-19.

This week, Texas Woman’s University announced it would help up to 100 small businesses through a $1 million grant program. The university’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs is offering 100 grants worth $10,000 each.

The AssistHer grant program applies to women-owned small businesses in Texas that have been impacted adversely by the coronavirus pandemic, according center director Shannon Mantaro.

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“These are uncertain times, and we’re here to help,” Mantaro said. “We also are here to help people pivot on their business with creating new business plans. We have a full-time business adviser that can help any woman in Texas via Skype or any method we’re using these days.”

Qualifying businesses must be least 51% directly owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens, according to TWU.

Amber Briggle, owner of Soma Massage Therapy in Denton, applied on Saturday. Briggle opened her Malone Street storefront in 2013 and has served more than 5,000 clients.

Her studio, like others, have been closed since March 21 following executive orders issued by Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, pertaining to businesses and schools.

Though many clients have been rebooked, Briggle said figuring out the next steps have been tough.

“It’s just these weeks or possibly months in between that we’re not making any money that’s really, really frightening for us,” Briggle said. “We don’t have any retail. We don’t sell anything other than physical touch, other than contact. So we can’t switch to online sales. We can’t switch to an online point of sales. We can’t do it like a lot of restaurants – curbside, delivery, takeout. We can’t do that.”

Though her business encourages people to purchase gift certificates for future use, the best thing they can offer at this point are phone calls to clients to check in and connecting through social media.

If she won one of the $10,000 grants, it would go towards operating costs like rent and utilities.

“My sincere hope at the end of this is when Gov. Abbott says, ‘Ya’ll can get back to work… the worst of it has passed,' I can just unlock that door. Send out an email, call all those people that we’ve missed and get right back to work,” she said.

Grant applications will be assessed for funding on a rolling basis until available funding is expended.

For more information on the grant program and how to apply, click here.

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