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Moving Forward in the Face of Rejection: How to Deal with Funding Opportunity Setbacks

Posted By Nimat Asunogie, Friday, October 27, 2023

We have all been there; continuously hitting the refresh button and waiting for the mail to come in. When we finally get the notification, with sweaty palms, we click open and all our dreams can come crashing down in one moment. It is not a pleasant experience but it happens a lot, seriously, it really is quite common.

Rejection is an inevitable part of life, and nowhere is it more prevalent than in the world of grant applications and funding opportunities. Whether you're an entrepreneur seeking investment for your startup, a researcher pursuing funding for your project, a student seeking scholarship opportunity or a non-profit organization trying to secure grants, rejection can feel discouraging and disheartening.

However, it's imperative to remember that rejection does not mean failure but can be an opportunity for learning, growth and development.

In this blog post, we'll explore how to deal with rejection from a funding opportunity and turn it into an opportunity for growth.

Embrace the Negative Emotions

It is okay to cry, be sad, cuddle up and not want to leave your couch. When we receive news of rejection, we experience a variety of emotions from sadness, disappointment, anger and self-doubt. Acknowledge that it is okay to feel this way but do not let it overwhelm you and your negative emotions are temporary. This is the first step in dealing with rejection effectively.

Reframe Your Perspective

Rejection is not a reflection of your business; credibility, potential and worth. Instead of seeing it as a failure, reframe your perspective. Consider it as an avenue for learning and growth. All successful businesses have faced rejection in one way or another. Instead of thinking: my business or startup is worthless. Change your thought to: This is a temporary setback and I will keep building my business.

Revise, Re-Strategise and Resubmit

Most funding opportunities are recurring especially annually (GET ACCELERATED and COMPASS) so there is another shot to try again. Review your application and the criteria of the grant opportunity. Study the business model of successful applicants, and address shortcomings in your application. This increases your chance of success when you decide to apply again.

Build a Support System:

Rejection can be emotionally draining but there is no rule that says you have to face it alone. Reach out to your support system which may include friends, mentors, colleagues, or fellow applicants who have experienced rejection themselves. Sharing your experiences and seeking advice can provide valuable insights and emotional support.

Keep Trying

You know the popular sayingā€¯ Rome was not built in a day, well, it holds some truth. Building anything can be challenging, especially a business. Persistence is the key to success. The determination to overcome rejection and keep working towards your goals is a trait that sets successful individuals and organizations apart.


Dealing with rejection from a funding opportunity is undoubtedly challenging, but it is not an indicator of how viable your business is. By embracing your emotions, reframing your perspective, revising your approach, building a support system and maintaining persistence, you can turn rejection into a valuable stepping stone on your path to success.

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