For social mission organizations, accessing grant funding often entails lengthy applications, long waits and confusing processes – only to receive money with strings attached. But, organizations have immediate needs. Many funders, like Social Venture Partners Denver, are revising their processes to make them more equitable, transparent and responsive to community needs. So, we decided to experiment with a new program we call Rapid Grants that simply asks nonprofits the question: “What can we fund that will have an immediate impact?”
Meet our first grantee: Sistahbiz
Makisha Boothe, founder of Sistahbiz, started her social enterprise to support Black women in the same position she was: dealing with workplace trauma and seeing entrepreneurship as a healthier way to make ends meet.
“They were looking for resources and support in their efforts to leave 9 to 5 jobs and build a legacy of their own. Our social enterprise helps the Black community build wealth by training Black women to become successful entrepreneurs. Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country, but among the lowest earning and least funded. We’ve made some gains in helping to close racial gaps in entrepreneurship, but the gap remains wide and there is much to do to close it.”
This is where SVP Denver’s Rapid Grant Program comes in.
“With the grant from SVP Denver, we’re opening a shared commercial kitchen so that 10-15 of our entrepreneurs can have access to expensive equipment that they wouldn’t likely have otherwise been able to afford along with training and a collaborative community of other product-based entrepreneurs. It feels good to have the resources to help them get one step closer to scaling and landing larger contracts.”
When asked about the process for obtaining a Rapid Grant, Boothe replies, “The SVP Denver team simply asked, ‘Where can we fill a gap?’ And then they moved out of the way so the work could be done.”
But Boothe says, “SVP Denver is not just about the funding.”
“SVP Denver provides the technical assistance — the advisory capacity — to back up the funding with a mastermind experience. They had me decide on the mastermind topic based on the knowledge I needed to get out of it. All these things show a level of respect for my perspective as a leader and how SVP Denver can be supportive of our mission.”