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Innovation & Job News

Women entrepreneurs compete for $70,000 from the SBA

Entrepreneurial women in the Tampa Bay area have the opportunity to win up to $5,000 in cash or prizes -- and the chance to compete for a $70,000 award, furnished by Microsoft.

The 2016 InnovatHER Business Challenge invites local female industry leaders and business owners to share their ideas for products and services that would enrich everyday lives on a national stage.

Those finalists will have an opportunity to compete for $70,000 in the second year of the Small Business Administration’s national prize competition, InnovateHER 2016: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit.

Local nonprofit organization The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women, a partner agency of the SBA is offering the local challenge as part of the partnership.

“We are funded for five years by SBA to provide business counseling and training for women,” explains Women's Business Centre director Stacey Banks-Houston.

Women make up 57 percent of the workforce, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. The SBA’s 2016 InnovatHER Business Challenge “is a great way for women to gain exposure for their business nationally, as well as technical assistance,” Banks-Houston says.  

The challenge officially began on September 14th, but “women can get started until at least November 1st,” Banks-Houston says. “The competition ends November 30th, so participants must be able to complete the requirements by then.” 

Requirements for the competition include:
  • Attending three Women’s Business Centre workshops or webinars
  • Participating in three hours of business counseling with a WBC counselor
  • Submitting a 2-minute video explaining how you would incorporate Microsoft products in your business.
  • Submitting a business plan
Videos must be submitted by November 20; the three finalists chosen on December 2 will win up to $5,000 in cash or prizes.

Funds for local level prizes are contributed by sponsors and supporters of the Women's Business Centre, Banks-Houston says.
Winners of the local round will then move on to the National SBA InnovateHER Challenge, when they will compete for $70,000.

During the finals, up to 10 finalists will compete for the three levels of cash prizes, provided by Microsoft. 2016 national InnovateHER finals will take place on March 16 and 17, during a Women’s Summit in the Washington, D.C. area.

Concerned about qualification? Banks-Houston says that a product or service’s potential impact is more important than experience.

“Any woman with a product or service that has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, has the potential for commercialization, and fills a need in the marketplace” should consider competing in the challenge, she says.

Interested in starting a conversation with other challengers? Try using the hashtag #innovatHERTampa on social media.

Read more articles by Justine Benstead.

Justine Benstead is a feature writer and editor for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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