From September 16 through October 7, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) will be accepting applications for the Woman-Owned Business Accelerator (WOBA) grant, which provides funds and coaching for up to five winners selected by DLBA’s Economic Development Committee.

The WOBA grant, created six years ago by DLBA in partnership with the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is funded by Farmers & Merchants Bank. Winners will divide a total of $10,000, gain access to the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and be eligible to receive business development coaching from Downtown’s Fuller Management Corporation. The estimated value of coaching to each recipient (five-month term) is $3,000.

“Applying for the WOBA grant was a straightforward process, and giving a presentation as part of it gave me the opportunity to visualize and prioritize growth goals for my business,” said Maggie Stoll, owner of the Burke Mercantile boutique in the East Village, who was selected as a WOBA winner in 2020. “While grant funding is always impactful, the individual coaching and business development I received from the Fuller Management Corporation as part of the WOBA grant has proved to be a long-term priceless support for my business.”

All Downtown businesses owned or majority-owned by women, including those in the start-up phase, are invited to apply.

“Applicants are required to be located within the DLBA’s Downtown Business & Parking Improvement Area (DPIA) and have an active business license within DPIA boundaries,” explained Austin Metoyer, DLBA’s Economic Development and Policy Manager. “Also, applicants can run either a for-profit business or non-profit, must have fewer than 24 employees, and clearly outline scalability and a growth plan.”

What happens next?

Soon after the application period closes, the WOBA Selection Committee will spend two weeks reviewing applications. The selected finalists are expected to be notified on October 24.

On November 9, finalists will make an eight-minute pitch to DLBA’s Economic Development Committee. Winners will be notified shortly after the Economic Development Committee approves the slate of finalists.

Individualized coaching and more

The WOBA winners will begin 2023 by participating in a four-part Fundamentals of Business Workshop Series provided by the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (estimated $600 value) which will cover such topics as social media advertising, financial statement analysis, human resource management, and financial management tools.

They will then receive up to five months of individualized coaching from Kena Fuller, Executive Director of Downtown-based Fuller Management Corporation, who specializes in small business development.

“The WOBA application process was quite simple compared to other grants I had applied for,” said Cathleen Cleveland, owner of Ash Bay Soap in the East Village, who won a WOBA grant in early 2022. “All of the DLBA staff helped me through this process. They were amazing! It’s an experience that I will never forget.”

For questions about applying for the WOBA grant, please reach out to Austin Metoyer at 562-506-2960 or austinm@dlba.org. The DLBA will also host two application workshop sessions to address any questions regarding the application and how applicants could strengthen their submissions. The sessions will be held on Tuesday, September 12 at 9 AM and 5:30 PM.