Calling (most) founders: Tito's Handmade Vodka is pouring out $250,000 worth of grants to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
To commemorate the Austin-based vodka brand's 25th anniversary, Tito's will award 10 grants, each worth $25,000, to small-business owners working to expand their operations. Tito's is sponsoring the grants, which is made possible through its philanthropy Love, Tito's. The vodka maker is working in partnership with Accion Opportunity Fund, a San Jose, California-based financial services company that will function as the grant fund administrator.
Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said in a statement that the grant "could be the starting block that changes an entrepreneur's trajectory, giving them the opportunity to secure their financial future."
Founders can apply to the "Love, Tito's Small Business Grant Program" if they've been in business since last June and earned less than $1 million in revenue during 2021. They must also be based in the United States and have a business bank account. Businesses located in U.S. territories are not eligible.
The grants, which do not need to be repaid, are intended to help a business grow and succeed, meaning that businesses have some flexibility on how the funds can be used so long as a business makes its case. Accion Opportunity Fund will assess the grant applications on the basis of a business's ties to its local community, its business vision, and how it embodies the following values: grit, love, kindness, family, meaning, and purpose.
But there are some sectors that are barred from submitting applications. Businesses operating in the cannabis space, for example, are prohibited from applying, as are tobacco sellers. Adult entertainment companies, massage parlors, firearm merchants, pawnshops, and nonprofit organizations are among some of the other groups that cannot apply for the grant.
Entrepreneurs who hold an interest in an alcoholic beverage license and those employed by a company that has a liquor license are also barred from participating. Employees working for a small business are also ineligible as the grant is solely meant for business owners.
The deadline to apply is June 30 by 8 p.m. Eastern. Grant awardees will be notified in July and can expect to receive their awards one month later.