Business owners, take note! Pepper, the bra brand for smaller breasts, is now accepting applications for their annual $5k Startup Grant for Black Women if you want to start a business but need a little cash to get it off the ground. This initiative was started by Pepper two years ago in an effort to combat the disheartening fact that Black women entrepreneurs receive the least funding.
“The Pepper Startup Grant is specifically for Black women business owners, a dynamic group that has been systematically disenfranchised when seeking to acquire the necessary venture capital funding to expand their businesses. We’re here to change that,” Pepper states via the website. “Pepper was inspired by a passion to change beauty standards for women who are overlooked in the bra industry, now we want to help underrepresented Black entrepreneurs kick start their businesses, in their own way.”
“It’s overwhelming to receive so many applications,” Jaclyn Fu, Co-Founder, and Co-CEO of Pepper, tells ESSENCE exclusively. “We feel indignant that Black women receive the least amount of venture capital funding and are massively underrepresented as founders. The number of applications shows the real need for more funding opportunities, and we hope that Pepper can play a small role in driving more diversity and inclusion in funding through our annual $5K Startup Grant for Black Women.”
The Startup Girl Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit venture capital fund that invests in female founders, and Pepper are collaborating this year. The recipient will have access to consultations with professionals in the legal, fundraising, finance, marketing, and other relevant fields as needed to address their particular needs. This network and additional support will also include mentorship calls with the Pepper founders and targeted promotion on Pepper’s social media accounts.
2020’s recipient was Ashley Young, CEO & Lead Stylist of Bridal Babes, the #1 boutique for brides and bridesmaids of color and women with curves. See what she had to say below:
Last year’s recipients, Carlissa and Laken King, co-founders of WorldGirls, share their experiences as recipients. “We launched in 2019 and applied for a ton of grants. We won the Pepper Grant last year, which was amazing! Jaclyn has been super supportive and knowledgeable – anytime we had a question, she was there to answer anything we needed. It’s so hard financially to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep going! You’ll find mentors like Jaclyn and the Pepper family, and they will support you. As long as you believe in your journey and what you’re doing, you will succeed.”‘
“It’s always difficult to narrow down to one winner because we believe all our applicants deserve to feel seen, heard, and empowered in building their business,” says Fu. “This is our third year in a row running this program, and we don’t plan to stop anytime soon.”
Applications close on August 26th. For more information and the fine print on applying, please visit https://www.wearpepper.com/pages/grant