It is the time of year for the Eileen Fisher Business Grant Program for Women entrepreneurs. Designer Eileen Fisher is an advocate for enterprises that are working to have a positive impact on the world. The program is in search of wholly women-owned businesses that combine sustainability, social consciousness, and innovation. The grant is designed to create new businesses or help reinvigorate existing ones.

How Much Grant Money is Available?

The grant program will award up to five grants of $12,500 to recipients of the award. Last year’s recipients included an infant and youth apparel company that makes and sells upcycled clothing; a sustainable and biodegradable products company for babies and kids; a paint company which makes its products from fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices; and an organic skincare manufacturer run by a mother-daughter team.

Who Should Apply?

The grants are meant for innovative women-owned businesses that are producing products which foster environmental and economic health of the global community. The grants favor companies which produce a product and are not meant for consulting services, medical practices and other general services businesses. In addition, applicant businesses should be for profit or profit/non-profit hybrids (social enterprises). This grant is not meant for non-profits.

So, an applicant enterprise must be:

• 100% women owned
• For profit or profit/non-profit hybrid
• Innovative
• Offer services or products that promote economic and environmental health in the community.

Do Applicants Have to Be Established Businesses?

No, in fact, there are two main categories of grants: startups and established businesses. For each business category it is critical to have a business plan which clearly shows the direction of the company and can be used to illustrate how the grant money can help the business achieve its goals.

Startups Must:

• Have been in business less than three years,
• Have a solid business plan,
• Show how the grant will grow the business, and
• Provide documentation of the business’ health and future potential.

Established Businesses Must:

• Have been in business longer than three years, and
• Be ready to develop the next stage in the business plan.

When Do I Apply?

The application window for the Eileen Fisher Business Grant is already open for the 2012 grant awards and will close on May 15, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. The application is available online and can be found at: Eileen Fisher Business Grants

There is no charge to apply for the grant program and because there are always a large number of applicants, businesses will not receive an individual confirmation.

The Eileen Fisher Business Grant program is an excellent opportunity for women-owned businesses, whether long-established or just starting out. The aim of the awards is to foster social consciousness, sustainability and innovation and make a positive impact on the global community. Past winners have included companies that produce a wide range of products, so all kinds of innovative enterprises with a business plan and a vision of social and environmental responsibility are encouraged to apply.