So many of us have great ideas that we want to transform into a real venture or project but very often, we lack the funding to do so. Right? In this blog article I want us to take a closer look at grants as a way of raising funding to develop your idea. What are grants? Grants are basically funds from any organisation or the government available for different projects. The government gets its available funds from the taxpayers. Private organisations dedicate a portion of their profits or marketing budget for this purpose. Grants are also often referred to as subsidies. If you believe that grants are way too humanitarian, charity-like or too social for your idea, wait, let me tell you otherwise.
European states developed through grants to private sector
All throughout history, the government, especially the US and many EU states have sustained their economy using subsidies and grants. Back then, it was local farmers and businesses that profited and received this kind of funding, but now, it’s very large corporations that get to receive most grants. Are the use of the grants fair and always appropriate, no, I doubt this. But that is not my point. My point is that grants are to be viewed differently. I encourage those with a sincere and sustainable approach to access grants rather than very capitalistic ventures or lazy brains exploring this funding opportunity.
Funding through grants are a 50:50 chance
If you might be interested in getting a grant, you can get our business development app and check our funing list to see grant offices that serve Africa and Europe. But what do you need to do to access grants? Before I share some tips from our experiences, let me inform you that grants are a 50:50 chance. You are not entitled to any grant and you must contest for it. SO either you have your own capital or some financially buoyant relative, you should approach the grant like you approach a bank. Be prepared and equipped with your tools. What do you really need?
Are you eligible and can you manage a grant?
Depending on the grant, you might need to have a fully fleshed venture, idea or plan. But first thing is to research for the grant and about it. Check who received these grants in the past 3 years or times. Also check the criterias and read through thoroughly. Some grant offices, especially those competent ones, have a help desk which you can call to get more information and clarity. After you are clear about the criterias, requirements and needs, ask yourself if the grant is suitable for you. Like I said, it is a 50 percent funding chance, so you do not want to waste your time on grants you are not eligible for or you cannot manage. People underestimate the grant application process, managing a grant if they receive one and the reporting process. These 3 processes we would discuss in future content in our app.
Grant Application – Do Not Downplay Your Competence
Now that you are technically and administratively eligible, your next step is to read through the actual grant application. Read it aloud to yourself and begin to answer the questions. It is not rocket science! Trust me. However, if it is a grant that requires you to apply for a ready-to-launch or existing project, you should rather start with the project plan before the application. A project plan is similar to a business plan. In this writeup, you identify what the project is, why the project is needed, who it will benefit, how you would carry it out, the cost and how it will generate funds. One thing I see people forget is to brush up their CV and about the team. Please spend some time there to make sure you represent your team appropriately, not too exaggerated, but also do not downplay your competence.
Is The Grant Funding Sufficient? Is It Worth It?
Now examine the grant application to see if there are many extra questions, requirements that you need to prepare. The thing about grants is that many do not pay the total granted amount up front, nor do many grants finance the project to a 100%. Why should they? Remember the point here is to assist you with the expectation that you also have the financial and managerial capacity to host the project sustainably. So if you find out the percentage which they fund, make sure it works for you after you add your own to it.
Then when it comes to budgeting, remember that your time is money as well. Many grants would want to know the financial contribution you bring to the table. Also many grants do not expect a payback, meaning you do not have to pay back if you deliver properly, timely and within the framework of the grant. Neither do you have to pay interest like you would do with a bank. However, you will be occupied with paperwork like writing mid-term reports, documenting your work and making final reports and accounts. Is this worth it?
Well after exploring several funding strategies in the past 20 years, I can tell you none is easy. The bank would need paperwork as well. Investors would need reports too. So endure the paperwork and get your idea developed. At least, you do not have to pay interest. It is rather unfortunate that access to capital is this complex in our modern world. But you got this! Now back to your own investment. It is simple, either you have some money in the bank or you can get overdraft from your bank. Maybe you have an investor too.
Your Time Is Money
It is important that you know this. Your work time has value in money. For this to be valid though, you will need to keep a Worklog that entails date, actual activity or work done and the time used to do it. Is this not too much work? At first I thought so but slowly did I begin to embrace the value of the worklog for our internal process. We became even more accountable to ourselves, we were able to see what consumes time. So there are some administrative lessons to take out of the grant process.
A quick wrap up for you to take out of this long article on funding;
- Read through the grant criteria an application before applying.
- Research and evaluate the past projects the grant sponsored.
- Develop your project business plan. Remember to emphasise on your competence.
- Come up with ways to make your own financing part available.
In future content, we would explore further on funding and I will teach you techniques that would help you raise the funds you need. Meanwhile, we launched our tailored all-in-one business development solution to connect SMEs globally, offer up-to-date business education, tools and funding information, provide exposure for social entrepreneurs and offer coaching services. Get the app (Android version) here and for IOS users, a webapp version and IOS version is on its way, sign up for our newsletter here to know when it’s out and get the consistent ressources via email. If you want to contact us, use our contact form or consult us through the app.
Thank you for reading to the end.