From an app built for friends and family, to a tool for small businesses, Venmo now helps power some of the most creative and passionate solopreneurs in the country.
To help these emerging businesses build resilience, grow, and succeed, Venmo has selected 20 solopreneurs and small businesses to receive a $10,000 grant, pro bono technical expertise and mentorship services as part of the newly announced Venmo Small Business Grant program.
These businesses have demonstrated a strong foundation, vision for the future, and great examples of how Venmo Business Profiles helped them on their path to success. In addition, as part of PayPal’s mission to build a more equitable and inclusive global economy, the grant recipients represent a diverse group of entrepreneurs.
Meet three of the inspiring grant recipients and learn about how they plan to use Venmo Business Profiles to continue growing.
Kellie Gillespie, owner of Visually Speaking
Visually Speaking is a Deaf, Queer-owned business in Seattle, WA, focused on spreading the use of American Sign Language (ASL), sharing Deaf culture, and empowering the community.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion people globally live with hearing loss. Since launching in 2002, the owner of Visually Speaking, Kellie Gillespie, has sought to not only teach ASL, but to also create authentic and welcoming social spaces for the deaf and hard of hearing community to take a break and practice their ASL in a judgment-free zone.
As a deaf adult, Kellie’s dream is to one day walk into a coffee shop, strike up a conversation with someone using ASL, and relax in a “voices off” environment.
The Venmo Small Business Grant will help to enable Visually Speaking to create these types of safe spaces at local art street fests, Pride festivals, and other events, supporting with costs such as registration fees, product inventory, transportation, meals, and other supplies. With Venmo Business Profiles, Visually Speaking can display a Venmo QR Code to accept payments for merchandise and to manage and grow their business.
The three owners of Change, Exchange
Change, Exchange is an LGBTQ-owned business that creates handmade, sustainable, and non-binary clothing and furniture from upcycled materials.
Fast fashion is responsible for 2 to 8% of the entire world's carbon emissions, according to the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion. To help combat these issues, Change, Exchange is on a mission to discourage the new production of clothing, helping to mitigate landfill waste, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Change, Exchange currently uses Venmo Business Profiles as its main method for accepting payments. With the support of the Venmo Small Business Grant, Change, Exchange will be able to invest in new equipment, hire employees, grow its social media presence, and educate the community on creative methods to increase the longevity of their clothing.
The owners of Change, Exchange never imagined careers as entrepreneurs. “In our minds, that title was reserved for straight, white men who had economics degrees, not queer women who were in school for political science, environmental science, and film production.”
Showcasing examples of how these women have overcome the obstacles facing the LGBTQ community will hopefully provide hope to others and a way for them to prevail in their business.
The owners of Sun Market in Decatur, GA
Created to support farmers and address food insecurity, Sun Market provides access to natural, organic, and locally grown produce at affordable prices.
Decatur, Georgia, is one of many communities in the U.S. that has “food deserts,” due to the lack of fresh food at affordable prices. According to the Department of Agriculture’s food access research report, nearly 19 million people — or 6.2% of the nation’s total population — have limited access to a supermarket or grocery store.
The founder of Sun Market, Gabbie Atsepoyi, faces even greater obstacles to starting a business than most as a Black, Nigerian American. As the daughter of immigrants, Gabbie sees Sun Market as one way to give back and provide future generations the ability to choose a better life.
The Venmo Small Business Grant will enable Sun Market to sell produce at half-price to families using SNAP benefits, furthering the market’s mission. In addition, the Grant will aid in the building of another storage facility and will help Sun Market to create an online marketplace to extend access to local goods and foods.
The following businesses have also been selected as recipients of the Venmo Small Business Grant: 7th South Designs, Cake Café LLC, Candles by Lakesha LLC, Cosette Designs, Dan the Doodle, Escape Adventures, FTLFLY Custom Tees, Glitzed 365 Beauty, Grow for Good, Krysalis Kouture, LaNae Designz, LatchPad, Meltdown Ice Cream, NuBorn Skin, Plantish LLC, Sun Market, Savor Acts and The Color Agent.
In the coming months, Venmo and Start Small, Think Big will host a series of workshops and community-building opportunities open to the larger small business community including Venmo small business grantees, applicants and entrepreneurs. The sessions will be broadly focused on various topics, including effectively using technology to scale your business. Check out the Start Small, Think Big event page for more details in the coming weeks.
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