News Release: InnoVentures 2020 and Coronavirus

March 26, 2020

News Release

Ventures responds to coronavirus crisis by celebrating 25th anniversary with a virtual pitch competition featuring local entrepreneurs and small business advocates with more than $10,000 in cash prizes

SEATTLE – March 26, 2020 – The final event of InnoVentures, an annual pitch competition and fundraiser that showcase the talents of local entrepreneurs with limited resources, will now take place virtually in celebration of Ventures’ 25th anniversary. After three months of training and two rounds of pitch competitions, InnoVentures finalists have made their final pitches for a contest that will be shared on Facebook Live at 6pm on March 26th.

In addition to pitches from the six finalists, attendees will enjoy remarks from the founder of Ventures (originally Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help) in 1995, Peter Rose. The program will also feature remarks from Nobel Prize-winning economist Mohammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank which started the international microfinance movement. Finalists will compete for tens of thousands of dollars of in-kind and cash prizes, including a $5,000 cash prize for the first-place winner.

“This is not how we expected to commemorate our 25th anniversary, but we are thrilled to celebrate the contributions of the more than 2,500 business owners that we have served since 1995 at InnoVentures 2020,” said Beto Yarce, Ventures’ Executive Director. Beto started several small businesses after immigrating to the United States 20 years ago from Mexico. “Their stories inspire our work, and their perseverance during this challenging time is incredible. For the second straight year, I am also proud that we are allowing entrepreneurs to make their pitches in both English and Spanish.”

“Friends is a proud partner of Ventures and is excited about working with Ventures’ entrepreneurs to provide opportunities in Seattle’s future Waterfront Park,” said Heidi Hughes, Executive Director of Friends of Waterfront Seattle.

“As a seventh-generation family-owned enterprise, we recognize the importance of empowering our communities during these difficult times,” said Jeff Vincent, President & CEO of Laird Norton Company. “Ventures mission focuses on our important local entrepreneurs, providing a pathway of prosperity for everyone. As a member of this community for over 60 years, Laird Norton is proud to continue our partnership with Ventures, and to support our Seattle communities.”

As Seattle continues to struggle with rapidly increasing inequality despite significant growth throughout the region, Ventures provides low-income entrepreneurs with the tools that they need to compete. Ventures provides ongoing access to training, coaching, incubation, capital and advocacy services.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis Ventures has already distributed $60,000 in emergency grants to 40 entrepreneurs with limited resources through our Emergency Microgrants Fund.

About Ventures

Ventures empowers individuals with limited resources and unlimited potential to improve their lives through small business ownership. Ventures accomplishes this goal by providing low-income entrepreneurs with access to business courses, industry-specific coaching, incubation, and capital to help them grow their businesses

Since its founding, Ventures has provided nearly $1.2 million in loans to help low-income entrepreneurs launch more than 2,500 businesses across Washington State. The typical Ventures client supports a family of two on $22,267 upon enrollment, and 68 percent of our clients move out of poverty within two years. Our vision is that all individuals who seek to succeed as small business owners will have access to the tools and resources that they need to achieve their goals.

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About Ventures

Ventures is a Seattle-based nonprofit that empowers aspiring entrepreneurs with limited resources and unlimited potential. We provide access to business training, capital, coaching, and hands-on learning opportunities for entrepreneurs. We serve those in our community for whom traditional business development services are out of reach, with a focus on women, people of color, immigrants, and individuals with low income. Our ultimate goal is to support individuals to increase their income potential, achieve long-term financial stability, provide for their families, and enrich their communities through small business ownership. 

Since its founding, Ventures has provided over $1.4 million to help low-income entrepreneurs launch more than 2,500 businesses across Washington State. The typical Ventures entrepreneur supports a family of two on $22,267 upon enrollment, and 63 percent of Ventures entrepreneurs move out of poverty within two years.

Press Contact

Will von Geldern
(206) 960-4974
[email protected]