Simplifying Your Grant Process
The journey to winning a grant can be undeniably tedious, from finding grant(s) that are a good fit for your organization to writing the proposal and to managing the fund when you are awarded – it can all be draining!
There are numerous grant opportunities that are available every year for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Startups in Africa and across the globe. The US Government alone gives out billions of dollars in grant funding every single year. So, if you have not yet considered investing in seeking grants to fund your startup/MSME this year, you should: it can provide the necessary resources to achieve your organisation’s goals without having to rely on loans or equity financing – or can supplement these other sources of finance. Moreover, it can catalyse business growth, enabling you to create jobs, contribute to the local economy, and make tangible impact. What's more, winning grants gives you an edge to raise more funds as it helps you build credibility.
There's just one ultimate secret to winning grants as a Startup or MSME in 2023: deliver a "money-magnet" grant proposal. In other words, your proposal must be so well-written that the grant reviewers can only exclaim: "Aha! This is what we are looking for!"
Writing such grant proposals requires great writing skills, such as storytelling, the use of persuasive language, appropriate expressions, among others. Nonetheless, it doesn't end there. Your proposal must have substance; that is, the project itself that you want to raise funds for must also be attractive. Experienced grant reviewers (experts selected by grant funders to assess applications and select potential awardees) can often tell when a grant proposal is just beautifully written, but lacking in substance. And as you can imagine, it will not deliver the "Aha" response.
The best part is, getting your grant proposal to have "substance" is not rocket science: you just need a few basic, but very helpful, resources. Once you have these resources on ground, they will help you to determine which types of grants you are ready to apply for (and win), and how to go about it. Sometimes, funders also request for them to be attached to proposals, so having them handy is vital.
For this article, I have selected 7 resources that we have found to be most valuable for MSMEs and startups. Take a look!
A strong business plan is crucial for securing grant funding for your MSME. A well-written business plan can help demonstrate your organisation's capacity, financial stability, and potential impact to funders. It should include:
Moreover, it might be great to have a simplified business plan (max of 2 pages) tailored to a particular project that you need to fund. For example, if you are expanding your business to serve another target market or introducing a new product, you might need to develop a business plan tailored to it to aid you in your grant seeking process.
Read also: 5 Key Documents You Need to Attract Your Next Funding
A pitch deck is similar to a simplified business plan, except that it is a visual presentation that summarises your business plan and is used to pitch to potential funders, including grant-makers/funders. Oftentimes, it is requested alongside grant applications and proposals, so your MSME or Startup must have this on ground if you are aiming to win grants 2023.
A pitch deck for grant funding should include all the elements in a business plan outlined earlier such as problem statements, solutions, business model, etc., and, in addition:
It's important to keep your pitch deck visually appealing and easy to follow, and to tailor your presentation to the specific requirements and interests of the grant-making body you are pitching to.
Audited financial statements are often required by grant-making bodies as part of the grant funding application process. These statements provide a detailed and independent assessment of a business's financial performance and health, and are usually prepared by a certified chartered accountant. Audited financial statements help grant funders assess your MSME/startup's financial stability, ability to manage funds, and track record of financial accountability. It also helps them determine your business' ability to carry out the proposed project or program, and ensure that the funds will be used for their intended purposes. Thus, having accurate and up-to-date audited financial statements can increase your business' chances of receiving grant funding.
Moreover, having an accurate record of your past financial performance would enable you to make more accurate financial projections for the project you want to fund and help you to develop a well-detailed budget.
Curriculum Vitae (CV) profiles are useful to startups and MSMEs when applying for grant funding. Many times, they are required by grant funders as part of the application process; and even when it is not directly required, they almost always request for a summary of the managing team's profiles. A CV profile highlights a person's education, work experience, research and publication history, and other relevant information that showcases their qualifications and expertise. A strong CV profile can help increase a grant applicant's chances of being selected for funding as it demonstrates their ability to effectively execute a proposed project.
As an MSME or Startup, your landing page can be an effective tool for attracting grant funding. In fact, the first thing a grant reviewer is likely to do to validate your business/project's existence is to visit your landing page. Here are some strategies you can use to make your landing page more effective in attracting grants:
Social media profiles play a key role in grant funding applications by providing funders with additional information about your MSME/startup and the proposed project. Social media profiles, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, can showcase your professional background and expertise, as well as your network. In addition, they can demonstrate your business' ability to effectively communicate and engage with stakeholders, which can be important for the project’s success.
Grant reviewers can also use social media profiles to research your business reputation, track record, and level of engagement with your audience. In some cases, grant-making bodies may also use social media to monitor the impact of the funded project and assess the applicant's ability to share their progress and results with their audience.
Thus, while social media profiles are not typically required as part of the grant funding application process, they often provide additional information and context that may help your grant application stand out and increase your business's chances of being selected for funding. As such, ensure that your social media pages effectively showcase your traction.
Grant funders may require applicants to submit a video pitch as part of the application process, to give them a better understanding of the proposed project and the applicant's ability to carry it out. As such, having a well-crafted video script can help your MSME or Startup to communicate the key elements of the project you want to fund in a clear and compelling manner, including the problem being addressed, the proposed solution, the impact that the project is expected to have, and the qualifications of the applicant. The video script should also emphasise why the project is unique and deserving of funding. As a result, a strong video script can help increase the chances of obtaining grant funding by showcasing your passion and expertise for the project.
So far, we have reviewed some resources that your MSME or Startup need to have on ground inorder to be ready to win grants in 2023. Although it might seem overwhelming, you don't need to panic: Grant Master is here to help you ease the process of getting grant funding from start to win. That's why we also offer support services such as business plan writing, pitch deck creation, CV profile revamps, landing page revamp, and a whole lot more!
Head over and check them out here.