This spring, Venture Asheville will award a total of $25,000 in grants to five early stage startups through the community-funded Asheville Impact Micro Grant.

Addressing a funding gap in the ecosystem at the earliest stages of business inception, these $5,000 grants have an impact multiplying effect. Grant applications from startups are due April 1, 2019 and can be submitted at

“We wanted to address two things,” said Jeff Kaplan, Director of Venture Asheville, the high-growth entrepreneurship initiative of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County. “First, we wanted to make a statement of what we can do as a community when we collaborate across organizations, and secondly, we wanted to fast track startups by giving them a $5,000 cash infusion.”

Venture Asheville took an experimental approach to fundraising this grant program, limiting donations to $200 each. After a $5,000 match by the Wells Fargo Foundation, donations dropped to $100 each. AVL Technologies stepped in to donate $3,000, taking the total raised to $25,000 and enabling Venture Asheville to award five full grants. In all, over 110 individual donations were made.

“Wells Fargo is proud to support Venture Asheville and their efforts to help small, local businesses get off the ground,” said Karen Lambert, Region Bank president for Wells Fargo in Western North Carolina. “Working with small business owners is one of the most important things we do at Wells Fargo. We want to do our part to help more small businesses start, run, grow and succeed.”

Kaplan added, “Limiting donations gives everyone an opportunity to participate and be part of an Asheville startup story. Over 100 individuals chipped in equally. That’s exceptional.”

Chairman of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County Michael Meguiar shared, “The Asheville Impact Micro Grant squarely fits into the comprehensive strategy of the AVL 5x5 Strategic Plan for Job Creation by strengthening local partnerships and cultivating the next generation of Asheville-headquartered companies.”

Applications for startups to apply for these $5,000 grants close on April 1. A selection committee will choose five grantees based on which applications can show the most impact. Eligibility requirements and the application are online at The winners will be announced at on May 1.

For more than 120 years, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce has supported the community by growing jobs, advocating for a business-friendly environment and helping businesses thrive. Learn more at

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