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Applications for REDI’s 2024 Minority Business Enterprise grant now open

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Applications are open this week for phase one of Regional Economic Development Inc.'s Minority Business Enterprise grant program.

This annual event is administered by REDI and is funded by the City of Columbia.

According to the REDI website, the total grant is worth $50,000, which is split among ten minority-owned businesses. Each recipient business will be awarded $5,000 each. Recipients will also receive at least six months of complimentary coaching from REDI following the the grant. This is to help with anything the business needs from a marketing plan to tracking financial reports.

The grant is available for businesses whose owners self-identify as African, African American, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, Native American (including Native Alaskan or Hawaiian), or Subcontinent Asian.

REDI is a nonprofit business development group who works to collaborate with and support local business through zero-cost advisers and specialists. This includes attracting new businesses, supporting workforce development, and educating new businesses on local compliances.

REDI's website states the grant, "focuses on inclusivity in opportunity and elevating underrepresented businesses."

To be eligible to apply for the grant, the businesses must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be 51% or more owned by a person(s) of color as defined above
  • Must be a for-profit entity legally registered with the State of Missouri and have a Federal Tax ID (EIN)
  • Must have a Columbia business license
  • Must be located in Columbia city limits
  • Must be actively working with a business coach through REDI or another organization
  • Must have 10 or fewer employees (or full-time equivalents)

Recipients of the 2023 grant are also not eligible.

Phase one of the application opened on July 8 and is available until July 19. The application covers all of the eligibility requirements.

If a prospective applicant doesn't have a business coach or is working to get a Columbia business license, they are allowed to connect with a coach and be in the process of receiving the license throughout the application process.

Phase two applications are set to be open from August 5 to August 26. These applications are focused on the applicant's motive and how the business will benefit the community.

Applications will be evaluated by three outside judges who have no affiliation with the applicants.

The ten chosen applicants will be announced at the end of August.

REDI Global Entrepreneurship Specialist, Lesley Sapp is eager to focus on the small business of Columbia.

"Starting a business is very, expensive and I think a lot of people go into it thinking that it's not going to be that expensive, especially if it's a business that's not brick and mortar," Sapp said. "So being able to provide these funds really does help a lot of people to get past that and focus on the work that they love."

One success story out of the MBE Grant is Raw Roots Tumeric, owned by Ranjana Han.

Founded in 2018, Raw Roots Tumeric is a Ayurvedic, or hollistic, lifestyle company that advocates and educates for the benefits of fresh medicinal herbs. The herbs call to Han's Indian heritage with her business' products infused with tumeric, ashwaganda, tulsi, neem, moringa, bhringraj, brahmi, and other herbs.

Han received money from the 2022 MBE Grant, and used her funds on new refrigerators to preserve her harvested crops.

According to Han, her business is "flourishing." While Han mostly does business out of her stand at the Columbia Famer's Market, her products are also featured in local stores. She also grew from a garden in her back yard to local community gardens and even a farm.

Han encourages any small business to use the resources they have.

"If somebody is thinking about starting a business, take advantage of these grants, take advantage of these resources, and then you can always flourish," Han said.

Check back for updates as this is a developing story.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Marie Moyer

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