Yahoo Inc. has announced recipients of its “Seeds for Success: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs” grant program, choosing three unique, innovative business ideas from more than 5,500 proposals. The grant recipients were selected by Yahoo! and Carolyn Kepcher, entrepreneur and former star of NBC’s “The Apprentice.” Each grant package includes $20,000 in cash, $5,000 in web site consulting, and web site hosting from Yahoo!.
Additionally, Kepcher’s new company, fwm , will provide free one-on-one mentoring from leading business experts, including Kepcher; Bobbi Brown, founder and CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; and Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines and author of the bestselling book, Basic Black: The Essential Guide to Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life).
Of the thousands of grant applications submitted since the program launched in March, many of the best business ideas focused on creative solutions to real life issues and interests such as the environment, the needs of children with disabilities, and lifestyle pursuits such as home decorating.
The three grant recipients will spend the next six months using resources from Yahoo! and fwm to grow their businesses, ultimately competing for a $10,000 bonus grant to be awarded in October. The public is invited to follow their progress online at http://seedsforsuccess.smallbusiness.yahoo.com, where updates and blog entries by the women entrepreneurs and fwm mentors will provide insight into the challenges, milestones, and successes that these new businesses will experience.
The response to “Seeds for Success” underscores findings from a new Harris Interactive survey about entrepreneurial aspirations. More than half (57 percent) of women respondents said they have thought about starting or have started their own business. When asked why they would want to start their own business, “passion for what they do” was selected as the top reason.
“We were thoroughly impressed by the response to the grant program and the many innovative and passionate business ideas that were submitted, especially those that demonstrated unique approaches to using the Internet to accelerate business growth,” said Susan Vobejda, vice president of marketing, Yahoo! Small Business. “As the trusted partner of choice for small businesses looking to launch or expand online, Yahoo! is thrilled to help the women of Dapple, Head 2 Toe, and Red Koala drive their businesses to new levels of success.”
“We are excited about helping bring together a ‘tailor-made’ team of mentors, drawing from the roster of experts that are lined up to contribute to fwm, my new online community for career women, and matching them to the specific needs of the women behind these worthwhile business ideas,” said Kepcher. “We are confident that this partnership with Yahoo! will have a lasting and positive impact on these women entrepreneurs and on the customers and communities they will serve.”
The “Seeds for Success” grant program follows the launch of Yahoo! Small Business’ new unlimited hosting service, which provides an easy-to-use, affordable way to launch or expand a small business online.