KeyBank, MESO, Thorns Announce Women-Led Business Pitch Competition

The winning pitch will get a $20,000 prize; all applicants will receive business mentorship and counseling.

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KeyBank’s Key4Women program, along with Microenterprise Services of Oregon and the Portland Thorns Football Club have announced a collaborative business pitch contest for women-owned businesses in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

The competition will feature opportunities for startups and existing businesses, with cash awards totaling $50,000. The winner will receive a grand prize of $20,000.

To be eligible for the pitch contest, businesses must be 51% woman-owned, controlled, operated, and managed. Contestants must also have headquarters in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Hood River, Yamhill, or Marion County, —or Clark County in Oregon or Cowlitz or Skamania County in Washington. Applicants can be entrepreneurs with an idea for a new business, or an existing business as long as annual sales are less than $3 million.

Microenterprise services like MESO typically offer small-scale loans to businesses in the early stages of growth, combined with business advising to give the business the best chance to succeed. In addition to the competition, MESO advisors are also offering free application workshops on Tuesday and again on Aug. 2, and Aug. 5 to any qualifying business candidates.

Business mentoring through MESO will also be available to all applicants after the contest.

“We are delighted to join forces with Key4Women for this inspiring pitch contest. It serves as a platform to connect with an extensive network of women-owned businesses and enterprising individuals in Oregon and SW Washington,” Cobi Lewis, MESO CEO said in a press release . “Our mission extends beyond providing financial resources for the growth of the contest winner’s business; we are committed to offering comprehensive support as they navigate their journey forward. We firmly believe that when women-owned businesses thrive, they become catalysts for job creation and become integral players in fostering robust local economic growth.”

“Women business owners and leaders positively impact our economy and communities in powerful ways every day,” Rachael Sampson, national director, Key4Women said in the press release. “Through this pitch contest we look forward to offering two critical supports women-owned businesses often struggle to find or ask for: mentorship and capital.”

Applications are available at They are due by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time Aug. 31.

The host representatives will select 10 finalists on Sept. 18. Finalists will present a four-minute pitch and field questions for six-minutes to a panel of five judges at a live event on Nov. 16 at Providence Park in Portland. Winners will be announced the following day.

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. Existing business applicants must pitch a new product or service that expands their current business.

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