The Refinery, an accelerator program that focuses on transforming women-led startups in Connecticut into scalable businesses, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In addition, The Refinery, which is Westport-based, has announced it is kicking off its inaugural fall 2014 program in partnership with the Westport Library.

"We are incredibly excited to have won this grant. It will allow us to deliver a top-notch inaugural program this fall of The Refinery, as well as continue to serve more women-led business and build the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Connecticut," said Janis Collins and Jennifer Gabler, The Refinery co-founders.

The Refinery, which has 10 participant companies and more than 30 mentors participating in its accelerator program based at the library, started Wednesday and will culminate in a pitch night competition on Nov. 20.

Program goals include: accelerating the growth of early stage ventures resulting in job creation and viable investments, engaging the local intellectual and financial capital in the growth of new businesses, serving the underserved market of women-led companies and creating a reusable model and platform for other communities.

Women-led companies are the fastest-growing business startup segment, with three of five new businesses being started by women, according to Belle Capital LLC.

Program sponsors include: the Westport Library, IMLS, the Westport Sunrise Rotary, Stamford Innovation Center and CT Next.