Every business, within and outside the fashion industry, requires funding to grow. While there are many different funding options available to fashion entrepreneurs, grants are by far the most attractive and coveted option.
This week, we spoke with Business Growth Expert, Dafe Odje, on how fashion entrepreneurs can position themselves to get grants to grow their business.
Mr Dafe Odje leads the Growth Team at Safehouse. He leverages Strategy, Technology, and People to design, build, grow, and, eventually, scale businesses. An animal love and a graduate of Building Technology from Covenant University, Mr Odje found himself in entrepreneurship years after graduation.
He has worked with several entrepreneurs, over time, and enabled them secure grants for their businesses.
What is a Grant?
According to him, “A grant is essentially free money. It is free money given to an individual(s) by a group of people to grow their business without the need to return it. They demand no equity and no collateral.”
For fashion entrepreneurs, the easiest grants to access are;
- Tony Elumelu grants which give a standard amount of $5,000.
- LSETF grants which are strictly for Lagos state residents and offer an amount less than #5,000,000.
- BOI grants which offer funding at #10,000,000.
Apart from grants and personal savings, other forms of funding fashion entrepreneurs can access are;
- Bank Loans: This is money borrowed from the bank.
- Angel Investors: This involves funds from individuals in exchange for equity – a part of your business.
- Crowdfunding: This is taking donations of money from the public.
- Venture Capitalists: This involves getting funding from an organisation who invest in your business for equity.
How Can Fashion Entrepreneurs Position Themselves to be Eligible For Grants?
“The simplest way to position your fashion business to be eligible for a grant is to leverage technology.”
Leverage technology in some aspects of your business. In this digital age that we live in, you cannot afford to keep doing everything the old way. As a fashion entrepreneur, you need to find ways to infuse technology in your daily activities.
“Technology is the critical thing.”
For example, if you are a menswear designer, you can infuse technology in your brand by using social media platforms to market your brand and you can also create a simple website to leverage technology in your communications – this is why having a website for your fashion business is important.
All in all, you need to find ways to be creative with technology, even if it means building an app to help solve a problem in the fashion industry.
What are the Basic Requirements Fashion Entrepreneurs Need to Meet When Applying for Grants?
As a fashion entrepreneur, the requirements you need to meet when applying for grants include;
1. Ensure your Business is Registered.
The importance of having your fashion business registered cannot be overstressed. Before you apply for a grant, as a fashion entrepreneur, you need to make sure your business is registered with the CAC.
2. Have a Proper Structure.
Every business needs to have a structure in place when it comes to running the business. As a fashion entrepreneur who wishes to apply for a grant, you need to have a proper structure in place in your brand.
3. Know your Numbers.
Having proper bookkeeping done for you fashion business is another basic requirement when applying for a grant. You need to make sure that your books are in order and you keep proper records of your finances.
4. Have a Plan.
Every fashion business that hopes to move forward and grow greatly needs to have a business plan. A business plan shows you what you want to achieve and how you hope to achieve it, amongst many other things. It is a basic requirement when applying for grants.
If you do not have one or any of these things, you need to consider getting them in place.
Steps to Take in Applying for Grants.
Research the grant you are applying for and understand what they are looking for. You do not want to start the application process and then get stuck later on in the process after you have put a lot of time and effort into applying. Make sure you do your research early on.
2. Know the Problem you want to Solve.
You need to have a definite problem you are solving with your fashion brand and then measure the market size of that problem in monetary value.
3. Define your Target Audience.
Do not ever say you are for everyone.
No fashion business caters to everyone. You need to have a defined target market your brand caters to and know in-depth their pain points and how to bring solutions to the problems they face.
4. Leverage Technology.
As stated earlier, leveraging technology is key. Your business needs to have a form of online presence for it to be eligible for grants.
Advantages of Grants for Fashion Businesses.
1. It is Free.
Grants are free so you are not pressured to return the money or give equity in exchange for funds. It also does not demand collateral from you.
2. It helps You Improve Your Business.
In addition to grants being free, the funding you receive from grants enables you to improve your business in ways you previously could only dream of.
In closing, he said, “Be consistent with your brand, leverage technology, and care for your customers.”