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How 5 entrepreneurs will use Amazon Business’ first-ever Small Business Grants to make a difference in their communities

2024-01-17 16:05:07

Amazon Business awarded more than $250,000 in funds and prizes to growing small businesses during its inaugural Small Business Month.

Amazon’s store for smart business buying, Amazon Business, is committed to the growth of small businesses. In 2022 Amazon Business launched its Small Business Grants to celebrate small businesses and entrepreneurs making an impact in communities across the U.S.

The winners received grants of up to $25,000 each and additional prizes, like an annual Business Prime membership, Ring security kits, and Amazon Web Services credits and training benefits. Amazon Business customers with an annual revenue of $1 million or less were eligible. The grand prize winner and four finalists were selected by fellow Amazon Business customers from more than 19,000 applicants.

The grant winners are inspiring innovation and driving meaningful impact in their communities. They are promoting sustainable business models and providing access to education in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), along with music and sports. Meet the winning small business owners below, and learn how they’re making a difference.

Grand Prize Recipient
Nicole Greggs, president and owner of MusicMakers! Summer Camp

Based in Coral Springs, Florida, MusicMakers! Summer Camp seeks to develop musicianship, character, and respect for others within a safe and secure environment. Nicole Greggs, president and owner of MusicMakers!, founded the organization 25 years ago with the goal to ignite a lifelong interest in music-making and an informed appreciation of the value and impact of music education.

With aging musical instruments and increased enrollment in their programs, Greggs and the MusicMakers! team are using their $25,000 grant to buy new instruments and improve their website, social media, and administration—all of which will help the staff of seven continue to deliver high-quality music education to their students.

“I never dreamed my company could be recognized for an award this large,” Greggs said. “I am thrilled that going forward we will be able to help even more people with better instruments and services, and that our company’s mission has been validated. This award means the world to us.”

Finalist: Nikisha Alcindor, founder of STEM Educational Institute

The STEM Educational Institute, founded by Nikisha Alcindor, provides programming that gives underrepresented high school students throughout New York City the technological skills they need to enter today’s workforce. The institute will use its $20,000 grant to build out its learning module system and increase access to coding, financial literacy, and mental health services—along with supporting additional student scholarships.

“Every day, thousands of under-resourced students receive inadequate STEM education, financial literacy, and mental health resources,” said Alcindor. “As a finalist of the Amazon Business Small Business Grant, the STEM Educational Institute will be able to provide valuable resources for youth to have a brighter future and become the future pipeline of diverse business leaders.”

Finalist: Nomie Hamid, chef and owner of Virtual X Kitchen

Virtual X Kitchen is a sustainable virtual kitchen located in College Park, Maryland. Virtual X Kitchen’s chef and owner, Nomie Hamid, founded his business to create an accessible way for people to open a restaurant without the costs of maintaining their own storefront. By maximizing kitchen space and hosting multiple restaurants, the business model reduces waste, saves space, and gives customers multiple restaurant offerings from one location with a seamless ordering experience.

Virtual X Kitchen will use its $20,000 grant to bring its sustainable model to more people in the community through a more robust operations and marketing budget.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity that this grant has provided our business,” Hamid said. “Thank you to everyone that voted! It has been amazing to see how far Virtual X Kitchen has come since our launch a little over a year ago, and we can’t wait to see how far it will go.”

Finalist: Max Steitz and Franziska Trautmann, founders of Glass Half Full

Founded by Max Steitz and Franziska Trautmann, New Orleans-based Glass Half Full transforms recycled glass into sand and glass cullet, which is used in coastal restoration projects, disaster relief efforts, new glass products etc. The small business also promotes environmental equality and creates green jobs for the local economy.

The company has recycled more than 2.5 million pounds of glass from more than 10,000 recyclers across the state so far. The company will use its $20,000 Small Business Grant to purchase the necessary machinery and equipment to keep its primarily volunteer-run business up and running.

“On behalf of the entire Glass Half Full team and community, we’re beyond grateful to have received this small business grant,” Steitz said. “This opportunity will enable us to expand our mission and impact, and recycle more glass than ever. Thank you to everyone who voted for Glass Half Full—we’re so thankful for your support.”

Finalist: Addison Staples, founder of Aces in Motion

Based in Gainesville, Florida, the nonprofit Aces in Motion is a sports-based, after-school youth development program led by Addison Staples. Its mission is to support the local community’s under-resourced youth by providing academic assistance and life skills through tennis.

With the $20,000 Small Business Grant, Aces In Motion will supply students and volunteer staff with everyday necessities to promote healthy eating habits and provide hygiene products for students without access to the items they need.

“We at Aces in Motion are so grateful to be a recipient of Amazon Business’ Small Business Grant,” said Staples. “These funds mean so much to our organization and the families we partner with. Our goal is to provide resources and support to our students and their needs, including purchasing healthy snacks and personal hygiene products to those families living in poverty, helping close the economic gap within our community. Thank you!”

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