Downtown Winnipeg BIZ launches second round of its Connect Grant to help small businesses that are still struggling

A smiling woman holds a coffee carafe and a mug in a cafe. The text "connect grant" is on the right.

September 21, 2021, Treaty No. 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB – The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is gearing up to support more small businesses downtown with another round of its Connect Grant – a program designed to help build sustainability for business owners working hard to stay afloat during the pandemic. First launched late last year, the Connect Grant matched nearly 60 small businesses who needed help, with other downtown businesses that could provide it. Simply put, it helps two downtown businesses with one grant.

“The support we received during this pandemic from the BIZ and Tandem Collaborative has been so helpful to us as a business,” says Gina Wildeman, co-owner of Human Bean Coffee & Tea. “They really listened to our needs and provided us with tools that will be extremely valuable to our growth as a business.” 

Human Bean is one of 57 Connect Grant recipients that have already completed the program. The coffee and tea shop located in Cityplace needed help with marketing and business strategy and was matched with downtown business Tandem Collaborative. Through the Connect Grant, Tandem provided Human Bean with a social media marketing strategy, hands-on training, professional photos and help with promoting the small business online.

Not only did the grant help struggling retailers, coffee shops, salons and restaurants during a challenging time, it helped downtown service providers as well. The program created connections and helped generate revenue on both sides.

The Connect Grant matched Tétro Design with 2 Kelly’s Cafe to create the restaurant’s very first website, a redesigned menu, and new signage.

“We found many commonalities with the businesses we were matched with,” says Mark Reimer of Tétro Design. “Many were small family-run businesses, like ours, being hit by COVID-19 and facing some significant challenges to stay afloat. We met hard-working, passionate business owners who cared deeply about their customers. The grant program was a win-win as it brought us work during the worst of our COVID-19 slowdown, and enabled us to help fellow small businesses who were struggling with the same challenges.” 

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned through this pandemic, it’s that we’re stronger together,” says Kate Fenske, CEO of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “The Connect Grant has facilitated relationship building and strengthened the downtown community. That helps build the foundation for our post-pandemic recovery.”

The Connect Grant can help small businesses with digital and marketing support, legal advice, HR services, overall business strategy or accounting. Applications for the second round of the program are now open.

For full eligibility requirements and information on how to apply, visit Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s website.  

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