Applications for the 2023 Lillie Knox Investment Awards are open August 14 - 31!
Each year the Women’s Business Council – Southwest gives away cash awards of up to $20,000 via the Lillie Knox Investment Awards to support the business growth of WBEs within our region. The awards are available exclusively to WBCS members; any current member in good standing is eligible to apply, regardless of company size or revenue!
Applications are now closed.
New in 2023, the application process includes a pitch!
The first round includes a written application that asks the applicant to:
- Share how the certification and WBCS has impacted their business.
- Identify a need that, if met, would support the growth of their business.
- Provide an itemized budget of their funding request.
- Address how they are financially contributing to their business need.
The second round invites the top 10 applicants to pitch live to the judges panel and have a Q&A with the judges at our Harvesting Partnerships event on Friday, November 10 in Hurst, TX. The pitch must be 2 minutes or less in length, be compelling, and address the above four points from the written application. The judges will deliberate and announce the recipients live during the luncheon portion of the event. The recipients then get to share their 2-minute pitch with the full event audience.
The winners are decided by a selection committee of WBCS past board chairs, the current board chair, and the WBCS President & CEO. Read below for some tips on how to make sure your application is complete and stands out this year:
- Provide quantitative data and context for your request clearly and concisely. Assume the reader isn't aware of what's going on in your business or marketplace. However, sometimes less is more. Show that your idea is well thought out without being overly wordy or using complicated industry jargon.
- Ask for funding for a ONE-TIME expense with a long-term impact that gives your company a competitive advantage. Operational and on-going expenses are generally not awarded. Focus on products/services that enhance the capacity of the company as opposed to the capacity of an individual at the company. While individuals are big contributors to a company's success, they come and go. The selection committee focuses on the successful longevity of the company. In the past, we've given out awards ranging from $2,500 to $15,000. Ask for the amount needed for your request, give specifics on the reason for that amount, and justify how it will be used. If the award will not cover the entire cost, explain where the remainder of the funding will come from. *Note - in general, the awards are given for a one-time expense with a long-term impact (like equipment, software, industry certifications, etc.), and not for costs related to on-going expenses (such as salaries, rent, event attendance, or education costs).
- Tell us how certification has helped you. Regardless if you’ve been certified 6 months or 6 years, we want to hear how your certification and involvement with WBCS benefits your business. Think event attendance, building relationships throughout the network, sponsorship, committee participation, etc.
- Show off your collaboration. WBCS is all about supporting women-owned businesses! Will you be working with a fellow member or hiring another WBE as a result of the award? Will the result of your growth have a positive impact on women in your community?
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. Check it yourself, then step away and have a friend or coworker read it too. Correct grammar and spelling help make the best first impression.
Watch our 2023 FAQ Session for more tips from our selection committee:
For the written application, you must:
- Demonstrate with quantitative data and context how funding your request will lead to business growth.
- Ask for funding for a one-time expense that gives your company a competitive advantage.
- Share how you've financially contributed to your business need already.
- Share how you've utilized certification and WBCS resources.
While not required, an application can be strengthened by indicating how you could collaborate with fellow WBEs as a result of the award.
For the live pitch, you must address the above criteria in two minutes or less and in a compelling way.
Some general examples of using funding to grow your business:
- Buying a piece of machinery that will allow you to bid on larger contracts.
- Using the funds to purchase licenses to do business in new states.
- Purchasing a piece of software that will allow you to scale manufacturing for your business.
Learn about our 2022 winners:
Good luck to all 2023 applicants!