Business Pitch Contest Announced for Women Owned Businesses

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 S.W. 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.

To be eligible, businesses must be 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. They must also be headquartered in one of the following Oregon counties: Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Hood River, Yamhill, Marion; 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.

“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 S.W. Washington,” expressed Cobi Lewis, CEO of Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO). “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.”

The online portal for submissions opens July 17 at 8 a.m. PST, Free application workshops are available with MESO Advisors on July 25, August 2 and August 5.

The application deadline is August 31 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Ten finalists chosen by host representatives will be announced on September 18. A live event will be held November 16 at Providence Park in Portland from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PST where finalists present a four-minute pitch and field questions for six minutes to a panel of five judges. 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. Mentoring is also available post-contest to all applicants.

“We are thrilled to host and support this pitch contest in collaboration with KeyBank’s Key4Women program and MESO,” said Todd Spear, SVP of Corporate Partnerships for the Portland Timbers & Thorns. “The Portland Thorns have always been passionate about making a difference in our community and providing opportunities and resources to women. We are excited to partner with KeyBank on this first iteration of this program and to make a meaningful impact for a handful of woman-owned small businesses in our region.

“Women business owners and leaders positively impact our economy and communities in powerful ways every day,” said Rachael Sampson, national director, Key4Women. “Key4Women is on a mission to advocate, connect, and empower them to thrive. MESO and the Portland Thorns are great co-sponsors in this endeavor, and 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.”
For the 2023 Oregon and S.W. Washington Women-Owned Business Pitch Contest rules and specifics, including eligibility, submission requirements and the application, visit

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