Jun 12, 2024

KeyBank’s Key4Women, Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO), and Portland Thorns FC to host women-owned business pitch contest for second year

KeyBank’s Key4Women program, MESO, and the Portland Thorns FC are collaborating to host a business pitch contest for women-owned businesses located in specific counties in Oregon and SW Washington. Opportunities for start-ups and existing businesses will be offered, with cash awards totaling $50,000. The grand prize winner will receive $20,000.

Over 210 women-owned businesses applied for the pitch contest in 2023. The 10 finalists chosen delivered their pitches to an audience at Providence Park last November. 2023 Pitch Contest L&M Hair Company winner, Melody Brown, will serve as a judge for this year’s contest.

To be eligible, a business must be fifty-one percent (51%) or more owned and controlled by a woman, women and/or by an individual or individuals who self-identify as women. They must also be headquartered in one of the following Oregon counties: Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Hood River, Yamhill, Marion, Benton, Lane, Linn, Jackson, Polk - OR one of the following Washington counties: Clark, Cowlitz or Skamania. Applicants can be an entrepreneur with a new business idea or an existing business with a new product or service that expands their current business with annual sales of less than $3 million.

The application deadline is July 15th at 11:59 pm PST. Ten finalists, chosen by MESO, will be announced in early August. A live event will be held on October 10th at Providence Park in Portland from 10:00 am-3 pm PST where finalists present a four- minute pitch and field questions for six-minutes to a panel of judges. Winners will be announced the following day.

All finalists are paired with a mentor at MESO to support in the preparation of their pitch and presentation. Criteria used to determine winners will include the quality of the presentation, clarity of business vision and mission, economic impact of the idea and the soundness of value proposition.

“It is exciting to host and support this pitch contest again in collaboration with KeyBank’s Key4Women program and MESO,” said Alexis Lee, President of Business Operations for the Portland Thorns FC. “The Thorns have always been passionate about making a difference in our community and providing opportunities and resources to women. This event will make a meaningful impact for a handful of woman-owned small businesses in our region.”

“KeyBank is thrilled to bring back the Key4Women Pitch Contest to Oregon and SW Washington,” said Josh Lyons, KeyBank Oregon and SW Washington Market President. “We couldn’t be prouder to partner with MESO and the Thorns again as we answer two critical struggles faced by women-owned businesses, mentorship and capital.”

For the 2024 Oregon and SW Washington Women-Owned Business Pitch Contest rules and specifics, including eligibility, submission requirements and the application, visit https://www.mesopdx.org/key4women.

ABOUT MESO

Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) elevates and empowers under-resourced and excluded entrepreneurs to build resilience, equity, and thriving communities through access to capital, tailored business assistance, and education. Founded in 2005 to assist Black-owned small businesses that were experiencing challenges in the wake of gentrification in North and Northeast Portland, the nonprofit now serves more than 600 entrepreneurs and small businesses in Oregon and Southwest Washington each year. MESO is a designated SBA microlender, an IDA fiduciary, and a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

ABOUT PORTLAND THORNS FC

Portland Thorns FC is an American professional women's soccer team based in Portland, Oregon that plays their home matches at the iconic Providence Park. Established in 2012, the team began play in 2013 as one of the founding teams of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) – the top-ranked professional women's soccer league in the United States. Thorns FC rank among the best globally in attendance across male and female professional soccer clubs. The team has won eight trophies – three NWSL Championships (2013, 2017, 2022), two NWSL Shields (2016, 2021), NWSL Challenge Cup (2021), Women’s International Champions Cup (2021), NWSL Community Shield (2020).

ABOUT KEYCORP
KeyCorp's roots trace back nearly 200 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Key is one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $187 billion at March 31, 2024. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of approximately 1,000 branches and approximately 1,200 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit https://www.key.com/. KeyBank Member FDIC.

ABOUT KEY4WOMEN
Key4Women started in 2005 as a campaign to lend $1 billion to qualified women-owned businesses within three years. The program achieved that in two years and has now generated more than $12 billion in loans to women-owned businesses. Membership in Key4Women is free. In addition to helping women business leaders and owners tap into capital to build and grow their businesses, Key4Women members gain valuable access to a team of local Certified Key4Women Advisors who advocate, connect and empower women on their journey to financial wellness. For more information, visit key.com/key4women.