Small Business Funding

What Can You Do With Grant Money? 4 Real-Life Examples

Four small business owners share how they invested grant money to further grow and support their companies.

April 4, 2022 · 5 min read
Marsha Stephanson of Cater to Mom

According to Semrush, “66% of small businesses face financial challenges, with 43% claiming the most prominent challenge is paying operating expenses.” For small businesses, grant money can mean the difference between opening or closing doors.

If you’re new to grants, we recommend starting with this article that covers all the basics such as what grants are, a review of the grants process, and tips for applying for grants. 

But if you do get some free money to invest back in your business, what should you do with grant funds? We’ve got some great ideas and examples for you below.

What Can Small Business Owners Do With Grant Money?

Some ways small business owners might spend grant funds include:

  • hiring new employees
  • covering day-to-day costs
  • upgrading facilities
  • product development
  • purchasing inventory
  • expanding retail partnerships
  • investing in marketing

For specific examples and inspiration, let’s look at real-life small businesses to see how they put grant money to work.

What 4 Small Business Owners Did With Grant Money

For some good ideas about what you can do with free money, we asked four Hello Alice grant recipients how they invested the extra funds into their small businesses. Meet Marsha, David, Valerie, and Shabazz. These small business owners and recipients from different grant programs share specific ways they invested grant money back into their companies. 

1. Marsha Stephanson, Founder and CEO of Cater to Mom

Cater to Mom is a monthly postpartum care subscription box focused on catering to the needs of moms after giving birth. 

“So much attention is given to mom during her pregnancy, but the postpartum period is neglected,” Marsha says.  “Our mission is to change the narrative of postpartum care by providing emotional and mental support to moms in a curated, thoughtfully-planned gift box.”

How much grant money did your small business receive?

$10,000 from the Hello Alice Stacy’s Rise Project Grant

What did you spend your grant money on?

“We were able to hire a part-time operations assistant,” Marsha shares. “And we were able to buy a large amount of inventory to prepare for last year’s holiday rush order.”

What impact did this have on your business?

The addition of a part-time operations assistant supports preparing their monthly box shipments with expediency. Notably, this was especially beneficial to meet the supply and demand during the busy holiday season. Ultimately, she adds, the business “had a significant increase in subscribers going forward into the new year.” 

“I think the biggest challenge, primarily as a woman entrepreneur, is support and funding,” she says. “I have bootstrapped for most of my entrepreneurial journey. We have seen significant growth over the last 3 years but it has been filled with blood, sweat, and lots of tears.” For that reason, the financial assistance of free grant money is highly encouraging and helpful.

2. David Price, Founder of The Safety Pouch

David Price launched The Safety Pouch in June of 2020.

“When I was 16 years old, before giving me the keys to my car, my parents sat me down at the kitchen table to have ‘The Talk,’ a conversation familiar to most Black teenagers about how to interact with police during traffic stops. During the conversation, I thought to myself that there must be something available to help facilitate this interaction and alleviate this fear parents feel when sending their children out on the road. I did some research to find products to help this issue, but I was unable to find products that would be safe for both law enforcement and drivers to interact.”

After further developing the idea in a business seminar course, the professor helped him bring the product to market.

How much grant money did you receive?

$10,000 from the Hello Alice Amazon Grant

What did you spend your grant money on?

“We used our grant funding to help expand our inventory to support our branch out into Walmart stores,” David says. 

What impact did this have on your business?

Customers will be able to find Safety Pouch products in Walmarts across the nation starting in May of 2022. David credits the grant for making the Walmart launch possible when other traditional funding options let them down.

“I love what I do because I have an opportunity to impact lives,” he says. “I am doing my part in tackling an issue that is really important to me. Through The Safety Pouch, I’ve been able to give thousands of parents a sense of relief when sending their kids out on the road. Knowing I’m making a small yet meaningful impact in relieving stress and creating safer, more efficient traffic stops makes it all worth it.”

3. Valerie Garcia of Wildlife Adventures

Wildlife Adventures is a service business that aims to delight and educate children of all ages about animals and conservation.

“We find that the animals ‘open up’ interest and from there we can teach so many things,” Valerie explains. “I feel very responsible to be certain that we seize that educational opportunity. Depending on the program theme, we impart messages such as leaving wildlife in the wild, responsible pet ownership, the value of a healthy natural world, and messages for good citizenship.” 

How much grant money did you receive?

$20,000 from the Hello Alice BGE Energizing Small Business Grant

What did you spend your grant money on?

“The grant allowed me to hire an employee to assist with developing a line of wildlife educational materials for the classroom,” Valerie shares.  Additionally, they’re also using some of the grant money to upgrade their animal housing facility.

What impact did this have on your business?

“The BGE Grant has made an indelible impact on Wildlife Adventures,” Valerie affirms. It was especially beneficial to support their business during COVID when they were unable to meet in person and needed to shift the focus of their business. 

4. Shabazz Stuart, Founder and CEO of Oonee

Oonee is building the nation’s first secure bike parking network that local residents can use for free.

“We work with cities to finance and build out this infrastructure on scale, similar to a public transportation system,” Shabazz explains. After successfully demonstrating a minimum viable product and thriving in the pandemic they are currently implementing a major expansion in New York and beyond. 

How much grant money did you receive?

$10,000 from the Hello Alice SIA Scotch Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund

How did you spend your grant money?

“We used the grant to pay bills during our fundraising period,” Shabazz shares. 

What impact did that have on your business?

“The grant was extremely valuable as it allowed us to meet costs as we took on a number of capital projects,” Shabazz says. 

“As first time founders without a traditional tech background, raising our initial round of capital was challenging. Recently, we became the first company to surpass $1 million in crowd-investing — an alternative route to venture capital financing. We’re hoping this validation, combined with the tremendous validation from the initial pilots and MVPs, has set us up for a strong Series A.” 

Ultimately, the grant money is not just supporting a business—but a vision.

“Seeing the impact on the community that raised me is inspiring. Transportation is transformative and unlocking a new transportation option really can change people’s lives profoundly. We get to be the first to provide this kind of crucial cycling infrastructure on a systemic basis.”

About Hello Alice Grants

Are you a small business owner looking for funding opportunities? Hello Alice has plenty more grants looking for eligible recipients. Visit our small business funding center to review current grant opportunities.

For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.