M&T Bank awarded $15,000 in grants to four local small businesses at a Nov. 2 pitch competition in Bridgeport.
The grants were part of M&T Bank’s eight-week Multicultural Small Business Lab, run in collaboration with the University of Bridgeport.
The course originated in Buffalo, New York, and trains racially and ethnically diverse small businesses in topics ranging from business planning, marketing and branding, networking, and pitching.
It has expanded to five cities, and will be run again in Bridgeport in 2023.
The program ended Wednesday with seven finalists pitching their company to a panel of judges, who awarded grants to four participants.
Carmen Nieves—who pitched a workforce and business development organization—said she wanted her business to reach its full potential through the program.
“I want to grow my business,” she said. “I’ve always helped people find jobs, but I wanted to do it in a way that helps more businesses and makes me feel good.”
Nieves said each class was valuable, but the most important thing she got was having individuals from M&T Bank who believed in her and her cohort.
“It’s about relationships,” she said.
“Relationships with individuals that believe in you, that trust you to work with them, and that know you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do.
“And ever since M&T has come here, they’ve really shown that they’re putting their money where their mouth is.”
Though she did no …