Michigan Women Forward

Helping Local Women Make Their Business Dreams Come True

Capri Scott, an educator with over 15 years of experience in the Detroit Public Schools Community District, needed help. She wanted to harness her skills to start an early childhood center for children from birth to age five, but required funding to cover the cost of a physical location.

Satara Holliday owns First Love Tours, a charter coach company started by her family nearly 40 years ago. When the pandemic started, the company shut down. Satara wanted to relaunch, but needed a loan to make her dream come true.

Joyell Lewis was eager to open a salon specializing in natural, eco-luxury services for wavy, curly, and textured hair. She wasn’t ready for a traditional bank loan, but wanted her landlord to know she was a serious entrepreneur.

Heather Fagan ran her own nonprofit, but dreamed of opening a restaurant. She was looking for assistance in getting it off the ground.

All of these women were able to make their dreams come true thanks to Michigan Women Forward, an organization whose mission is to expand economic opportunity for women and entrepreneurs of color. Started in 1986 by Mary Jo Pulte in response to the fact that at the time, only 3% of philanthropic dollars benefited programs for women and girls, Mary Jo and a group of 30 Michigan women decided to do something to change that. Their solution was to create Michigan Women Forward, the only public, statewide foundation focused on the personal and economic well-being of Michigan women and girls.

Michigan Women Forward is a certified community development financial institution. In 2022, they provided 91 loans totaling $2.6 million to primarily women-owned businesses, and helped 1900 entrepreneurs gain the necessary skills to start their businesses through their technical assistance programs. These programs give entrepreneurs help with business planning, cash flow projections, marketing, and technology to grow their businesses. Michigan Women Forward also provides mentorship opportunities and entrepreneurship programs to help open doors for women. Through their WomenUp and Pitch competition, entrepreneurs can present their business plans for a chance to win $10,000. Michigan Women Forward also celebrates the achievements of women through HERstory, the Women’s Hall of Fame, with 344 inductees so far including Diana Ross, Serena Williams, and Jocelyn Benson.

The assistance provided pays off. Capri obtained a loan that enabled her to open Foundation First and start changing the lives of young children in Detroit with a curriculum focused on essential learning skills. Satara also obtained a loan from Michigan Women Forward and got her family’s tour company in North Rosedale Park back on the road. Joyell’s loan gave her the funds she needed to build out her salon in Corktown, called Joyola Mei Salon, which opened in May of 2022. As for Heather, she attended Michigan Women Forward’s two-part How to Write a Business Plan course in Port Huron, and last fall opened Dona Marina’s LLC, serving Nicaraguan and Latin American cuisine out of a local incubator kitchen, with plans to open a full-service restaurant later this year.

Want to get involved? You can help advance opportunities for Michigan women by joining Power of 100, a group of women who give their time, talent and dollars to improve the lives of Michigan women and girls. Women starting their careers can join Power Forward, a group which supports the work of Michigan Women Forward. Individuals can also make financial contributions, or even support women and entrepreneurs of color by shopping at their businesses. Find out more at miwf.org.

Michigan Women Forward is the only public, statewide foundation focused on the personal and economic well-being of Michigan women and girls.

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