From time to time, in the business environment, information appears about the possibility of obtaining a grant to launch your business. This phenomenon was not spared by the sphere of mobile dry cleaning, cleaning, and even carpet workshops. However, for many entrepreneurs, this question, being interesting, remains hidden under a veil of secrecy: who, how, when, under what conditions can give such a grant to launch their own business.
In the interview below, we asked in detail a young entrepreneur, a woman who managed to get such a grant, and she shared her experience with us.
- Tell us briefly about yourself.
– My name is Lydia, I am from the city of Mirnohrad. Together with my sister, I opened a cleaning and dry cleaning service and work in my hometown. We are engaged in cleaning and dry cleaning of textile coatings – furniture upholstery, carpets, car interiors. Now we are working throughout the Pokrovsky District. Known under the name “Moidodyr Cleaning Service”.
- Why cleaning and dry cleaning?
– I worked as a teacher at a school, but over time, interest in the teaching field disappeared, and I decided to change my occupation. A friend gave me an idea – she advised me to look at the market and understand what people need and what is lacking in the market. And a little later, she pushed us to think about cleaning services, saying that since she is constantly on the road and rarely at home, she does not have enough time to take care of her home. So my sister and I chose the field of field cleaning and decided to occupy this niche in our city.
- About the grant. You (the team) received some kind of grant for business development, can you tell us more? What kind of organization? What is the grant?
– In 2021, we took part in a grant called “The Program for the Expansion of the Female Industry” for cleaning equipment and several types of chemistry.
The grant was organized by 3 companies: the Estonian organization “Estonian Council for Refugees” in collaboration with “Garage 48” and the Zaporozhye organization “Unity for Maybutnu”. The competition was held only for women, my sister and I, as two business owners, decided to take part and applied.
In total, 190 women’s teams from 5 regions applied for participation in the grant: Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Dnepropetrovsk.
- How did you find out about the grant competition and the program?
We first learned about this grant from a friend who is a specialist from the employment center. Employment centers actively interact with similar organizations, monitor such grants, so they learn about them and grant programs quickly enough.
She said: – There is an opportunity to get a grant to start your business. – and added: – The objectives of this grant coincide with the type of your activity. The grant is given to startups looking for additional funding or companies looking to expand.
Since the grant was focused only on women, we can say that we passed the entrance filter by default and decided to apply for a grant.
- What did you need to do to get a grant for business development?
– The competition consisted of several stages, in the end we had to write and present a detailed business plan for expanding our business in the field that we represent (on-site cleaning and dry cleaning). In the end, the organizers selected 20 winning teams who received a grant for their business.
The first step to participate was to write a short 2-page business plan (description of the company’s strategy, key financial indicators, etc.). He should have been sent to the organization for review. To do this, we went through 2 days of training within the same program to be ready to write. A week after the review, the organizers wrote a letter to us, it said that we were moving on.
This was the first qualifying round, after which 60 teams were selected.
At the second stage, we had to go through a 2-week training within the business, and in an extended form, continue the same business plan that we had created earlier. The training was very useful for us, as it covered the topics of planning, systematization and organization of business. For ourselves, we were able to more accurately formulate the goals of the company and the way to achieve these goals. After training, with the help of an accountant, as well as newfound knowledge, we wrote a detailed business plan for the expansion of our company and recorded a video presentation of this plan. All materials were sent to the organizers.
After we sent the business plan, after a while we received an answer to the mail about the passage to the finals, 29 more teams went with us.
At the last, third stage, we already had the opportunity to meet with the organizers of the grant so that they would ask the last questions to the participants and choose the winners.
In the end, we were told that our team was among the 20 winners, and we will be able to receive funding.
Our goal was to expand the company and obtain financing for equipment and materials.
- What was the sum of the grant?
We were told that the companies within the framework of business expansion will be financed in the amount of up to UAH 83,000 ($5 000).
- What are the requirements for you after receiving a grant for your business?
We were going to spend this money on equipment and materials for our mobile cleaning company. All the items on which we want to spend this money were spelled out in the business plan. The main requirement for us was to follow the points that we prescribed. The organizers, in turn, made sure that these points were implemented and that the grant for launching their own business was used specifically to launch the business, and not just to be consumed here and now.
When we selected suppliers and indicated what kind of equipment and materials we needed, the organizers contacted them in order to agree on a purchase.
- How did receiving a grant for your business affect your work?
Foremost, the grant allowed us to buy equipment we required. This is an extractor, a steam generator, a carpet fan, a mini-sink, well, and chemistry.
All this allowed us to speed up processes and serve a larger number of clients.
But the grant helped not only financially, the very process of teaching, presentations and preparation gave us the experience that we are using right now. We were also told that within the framework of the grant, the companies are financing a mentoring program for 6 months. Within the framework of this program, it is possible to choose a mentor, who can be contacted with all sorts of questions regarding our business. For us, this is a big plus, since we could decide, and subsequently selected, a real master in our field, who agreed to become a mentor and with whom we continued to work – Maxim Tarasov.
- Do the grant organizers control you after funding?
After we received all the necessary equipment, representatives from the organizations said that they would monitor the condition, but no direct demands were made on us.
- About the seminar. You were in Khmelnitsky, at a stain removal master class, is it somehow connected with a grant for your business?
First of all, I learned about the seminar from my mentor. Maxim Tarasov called us and said that as part of the mentoring program, he invites my sister and me to an 8-hour workshop-master class on the topic of removing stains from surfaces. We decided that this would be a great learning experience for us, as well as an opportunity to meet professional people in our field and learn something new from them. So we took a train ticket and drove off.
- What did you learn at the master class that you attended, will it be useful in the future?
– I learned how to remove stains from all kinds of surfaces. I was able to try to remove stains with my own hands, which I myself did not often encounter, and also learned how to take care of textile materials after cleaning. This will help me in the future to be more confident in what tactics to take in removing certain contaminants.
I learned how to work with some preparations, for example – Skaria Cleaner, I got acquainted with new products that will allow me to clean more efficiently and cheaper, a cleaner – Extrakt Powder Biosolv and a means for pre-wetting before cleaning Hard Enzime Cleaner.
- If in a month or a month and a half there is another seminar, but on a slightly different topic, will you come?
– Yes, with pleasure.
- What would you like from suppliers of equipment and chemistry? How can they help their customers, especially start-up entrepreneurs?
– In terms of service, we would like to receive timely technical support from equipment suppliers in case the equipment breaks down and you need to quickly find a solution. It would be great if the technologist himself could come and see the car, without having to send the equipment to another region.
- What do you want to learn now?
– In subsequent seminars, I would like to learn how to accurately determine the material of the surface with which to work. This would help shape the surface cleaning plan faster.
- What are your plans, what level of income do you expect in 3-5 years?
– The plans are now to expand the client base and open a mobile cleaning service in the region. We also plan to start working not only in the B2C sector, but also to be introduced into the B2B segment. We are planning to start, perhaps, with restaurants.
- What difficulties do you face in terms of organizing a business, providing services, directly in cleaning?
– No problem. However, every entrepreneur experiences some difficulties, it cannot be otherwise. And the grant would not be needed, and training. But we deal with them. Therefore, everything is fine, there are no problems whose solutions we would not know, at least for now.