Our Stories

Talent exists in every community. Adequate opportunities do not. Learn more about entrepreneurs making an impact in their communities.

FEATURED STORIES & EVENTS

Juneteenth Reflection Blog Cover Image

Juneteenth Reflection

Our culture is preserved and respected when the businesses in our neighborhoods are for us and by us. Our humanity . . .

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EXPLORE OUR STORIES

ProsperUs knows residents can provide what the neighborhood needs. We see every day that successful small businesses help create thriving neighborhoods. Learn more about the resilience of our communities.

Join the ProsperUs Detroit Team!

ProsperUs is on a mission to advance economic equity in under-resourced communities by supporting entrepreneurs with opportunities and capital needed to build businesses, generational wealth, and vibrant neighborhoods.

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Juneteenth Reflection Blog Cover Image

Juneteenth Reflection

Our culture is preserved and respected when the businesses in our neighborhoods are for us and by us. Our humanity is recognized, and we have safe spaces to just ‘be.’ Our people are cared for by the opportunities we create to support and build up one another. The ripple effects are boundless.

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Jon Kent and the Sanctuary Farms Team

Jøn Kent I Sanctuary Farms

“I wanted to do something I was passionate about that spoke to me,” Jøn explains. “For me, everything aligned with farming. The beauty of the work is that all you need is the grit to do it. Parker and I are lifelong friends, and the pandemic became the push we needed to do this endeavor together.”

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Women of ProsperUs Detroit in March 2022

The Women of ProsperUs Detroit

As we close out Women’s History Month, we want to showcase and celebrate the amazing women on our team who make much of the work we do possible! (6 out of 9 team members are women at ProsperUs!)

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Nawal Denard, Owner of House of African Prints

Nawal Denard, House of African Prints | Women’s History Month 2022

“Every year after, my business has seen growth. When it comes to African prints, they’re high quality and striking. I’ve had so many new customers come to see me, I refer to them as my African-print-virgins, and they’re blown away. It’s my favorite to introduce people to African prints, and I’m grateful every day to have the opportunity to do so.”

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Sonja McCoy, Co-Owner of Glass Block Express

Sonja McCoy, Glass Block Express | Women’s History Month 2022

“I live in Detroit. So I put my business in here so we can continue to elevate the whole community. We hire from the community, and by doing so, we’re able to affect the lives of community members. Detroit is growing, the resurgence is happening, and the population is growing. It’s a great time to start a business in the city – especially if you’re a part of the community!”

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Ameneh Marhaba, Owner of Little Liberia

Ameneh Marhaba, Little Liberia | Women’s History Month 2022

“My hope for the future is a brick and mortar that allows guests to come through the front doors, have a plate of food, and learn about Liberia without realizing it. There are many tribes in Liberia, and in my space, I envision having a tribal wall listing where each specific food dish comes from. As guests look at the menu while talking or waiting for their food, I hope they’re able to learn from our four walls and learn where their food came from and a bit about Liberia.”

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Jeana Harper-Kirkland, Owner of Torso Sweatband

Jeana Harper-Kirkland, Torso Sweatband | Women’s History Month 2022

The successes that Torso Sweatband has seen were hard-fought by co-owners Jeana Harper-Kirkland and Rhonda Johnson. “Last year, we won a pitch competition with Michigan Women Forward, and it’s resources like these that have helped the Torso Sweatband and both Rhonda and myself. Before that, we took ProsperUs classes, and our coach Dr. Marcus Harris helped us so much.”

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Kimberly Jones, Owner of Epic Infants

Kimberly Jones, Epic Infants | Women’s History Month 2022

Epic Infants began with organic wipes. “They were the easiest thing to make, and the most needed by my community,” says Jones. “The families were so often complaining making sure it was affordable was an aspect of my business I refused to budge on, because these women needed to have access to these healthy products.”

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Dominique Mitchell, Owner of Simply Social Event Space

Dominique Mitchell, Simply Social Event Space | Women’s History Month 2022

Simply Social Event Space became active on social media in April 2020. “I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a webinar about starting your own event space. The pitch resonated with me, so I took the class. I had also just gotten my real estate license a year prior, and that fit in line with the business model I was flushing out. Simply Social became active online, and I started sharing my passion and story.”

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Kymaletha Brown, Owner of The Great Divine Center

Kymaletha Brown, The Great Divine Center | Women’s History Month 2022

“When I got The Great Divine Center’s space, I realized how truly perfect the location was. Every studio like this is a space for younger generations,” says Brown. “Our community space invites adults to come in and release, to get in touch with their feminine energy, and a space that allows moms to feel like themselves again.”

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Women's History Month Blog Cover

Celebrating Women’s History Month, 2022

We’re working to capture the stories that support and uplift those narratives of resilience that represent our neighborhood entrepreneurial communities. The focus of our Women’s History Month series is the resilience and strength of women in our amazing city.

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Charles Jones, Owner of Taboo Treasures

Charles Jones, Taboo Treasures | Black History Month 2022

“The cannabis plant is so versatile and has experienced a stigmatized background. We have a lot in common,” explains Jones. “I was born and raised in Detroit, and I’ve seen my share of rough and hard times in the city growing up. But, I emerged through the other side a new individual, with a different purpose and wanting to do more for my culture, and myself.”

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Randall Coats, Owner of Wine 4 Da Ppl

Randall Coats, Wine 4 Da Ppl | Black History Month 2022

Coates is referring to the lack of representation of Black people within the wine industry, a trend that is also seen in the wider alcohol industry and hospitality industry. Coats hopes to bring awareness and education of the industry to his community, one glass at a time.

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Jessica Kwalli, Owner of Jessica Blair Beauty

Jessica Kwalli, Jessica Blair Beauty | Black History Month 2022

Kwalli began researching ways to get into the beauty industry and how to open and run a beauty store. Though the task was daunting and she didn’t know where to begin, Kwalli noticed one of her notebooks sitting by her at the time had a vital message embossed on the cover. Write Every Moment.

“So I did just that,” Kwalli says. “Each day, I would jot down ideas, thoughts that would come to mind. I’d then start doing one thing at a time. Which put together a blueprint.”

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Nedra Banks, The Grubbank | Black History Month 2022

“There are two defining moments for me that pushed me down this path of entrepreneurship,” Banks recalls. “I was taking my daughter to school one day and saw kids outside waiting on the school bus. Their stop was near a gas station, and I watched those kids rush in there and attack the snack aisles. When I asked if they had had breakfast, they all said no for various reasons. That moment made me realize there was no alternative for their family to have access to fresh food for them to start their day.”

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Niema Stone, Soapstone Soaps | Black History Month 2022

“Eventually, I got better. But it took a lot of research and dedication to learn the proper way to do things and the way the ingredients work with each technique,” Stone says. “With each batch, both the soap and my skills got better, my confidence grew, and people started asking if they could purchase my products.”

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Playground Detroit photo by Leah Castile

Impact Stories | PLAYGROUND DETROIT

They uplift artists, inspire the next generation, give back to Detroit through community discounts and partnerships with other community members, leverage the ability of their artists to use their talent for good and positive change, enhance Detroit’s creative economy, and encourage the vibrancy and beautification in Detroit. 

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Guerilla Food Logo

Impact Stories | Guerilla Food

Meiko’s success, however, is not without massive hurdles faced by many small business owners, especially those who don’t have a traditional background in business. Taking the time to build her financial literacy and finding a network of collaborative small business owners helped Meiko stay afloat during especially tough times.

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Inside Krispy Addicts

Impact Stories | Krispy Addicts

Hasan is more than an entrepreneur. He wants to inspire his peers and youth by showing them how a man from inner-city Detroit with a vision from an early age worked until his goals came to fruition. Hasan uses his connections to the Detroit community to uplift his neighbors.

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Juneteenth ProsperUs Message Header

Reflecting on Juneteenth

Our culture is preserved and esteemed when the businesses in our neighborhoods are for and by us. Our humanity is recognized and we have safe spaces to exist. Our people are cared for by the opportunities we create to support and build up one another. The ripple effects are beautiful and endless. 

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Jeana Harper-Kirkland, Owner of Torso Sweatband

Words of an Entrepreneur: Jeana Harper-Kirkland

When the opportunity arose for this multi-faceted businesswoman to take the ProsperUs Detroit Entrepreneurial Training, she jumped on it!  Jeana had taken entrepreneurial classes 15 years prior with her business partner, Rhonda Johnson, but time elapsed and life happened, so it was time for a refresher to fill in the holes with the most up-to-date training.

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Makeda Turner, Owner of Essense 4 Success Consulting

Words of an Entrepreneur: Makeda Turner

It was nice to talk to someone that looks like me and that I can identify with personally. This is important when discussing such an intimate and personal topic, such as money. Her knowledge and guidance helped to reassure me when making financial decisions.

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Nikki Neuzil Womens History Month ProsperUs Blog Post Graphic

Nikki Neuzil | Women’s History Month

Nikki’s dream to keep growing her business brought her to Detroit where she fell in love with Mexicantown after hosting a pop-up at Clark Park for a Cinco De Mayo celebration. Opening a business this time around proved more challenging than her previous experience at opening a business. This was a century-old building in the need of many improvements. She enrolled in business management courses and gave it her all. It only took her eight months to fully renovate the building into the beautiful boutique you will find today.

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Mayra Torres Womens History Month 2021 Blog Cover

Mayra Torres | Women’s History Month

Mayra feels grateful for her family and her community for believing in her and supporting her every step of the way. Today, she hopes to inspire other women in her community into business ownership, or in her case, multiple businesses.

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Nadia Nijimbere, Co-Owner of Baobab Fare Womens History Month 2021 Blog

Nadia Nijimbere | Women’s History Month

Although Nadia did not imagine herself to be a business owner when she was young, she is very proud to find herself an activist, immigrant, and businesswoman today. She encourages other women to tap into their inner power and passion because we can do so much more than we expect. She says it may not always be easy, but it sure is possible.

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Deirdre Roberson | Women’s History Month

As a Black woman in a white- and male-dominated field, she often felt limited and undermined. She worked for five different companies looking for a more nurturing environment for her, but she was disappointed every time. These frustrations are what inspired her to do her own thing, so she built her website and began putting together Eumelanin. She wanted to create a work culture like she never had before.

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Valerie Brock | Women’s History Month

Valerie’s choice to carry on her family’s legacy in learning and education made her realize just how much our society undervalues early childhood education. She believes our culture has devalued our children’s capacity to learn at a young age, as evidenced by her struggles to secure funding. Appealing to funders with a model like this when education “is so often wealth-driven instead of human-driven” has made it difficult to gather capital for the construction of the school building and space.

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Women’s History Month 2021 Intro

Celebrating Women’s History Month is an acknowledgement of the amazing accomplishments of women despite the unique barriers we face, often in intersectional ways depending on the culture and body we are born into.

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Nezaa Bandele | Black History Month

And, although she has struggled as a Black woman, having to “work twice as hard to navigate structural challenges”, she has found the support to expand her network and continue her journey in feeding her community. She is a natural-born go-getter and doesn’t let barriers hold her back.

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Lester Gouvia | Black History Month

Lester struggled with the funds to get his business on its feet at first due to being an immigrant, he felt lenders did not take him seriously. He applied for many loans with other lenders and was denied on numerous occasions but after a short conversation with our Senior Loan Officer, Matthew Bihun, he was met for the first time with the same passion and commitment he felt for his dream of owning his own business.

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Words of an Entrepreneur: Lanay Gilbert

I could not answer simple questions about my spending at first, but by the end of our first session, I could see exactly what was happening with my finances. She reviewed my credit report and bank statements with me to help me to see my pattern of spending. I was absolutely amazed!

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Tramaine Seay | Black History Month

As a young Black woman and entrepreneur, she has learned to take pride and confidence in what she does. When she first started, she heard a lot of “Oh you’re the photographer?” type of comments in disbelief that she could be great and self-taught.

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Merrit Family | Black History Month

During the pandemic, the coffee shop has received support from people in the community who made a conscious effort to support Black-owned businesses. The neighborhood lacked a coffee shop before The Narrow Way Cafe & Shop, so folks were sympathetic to the cause of keeping the business afloat.

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Word of an Entrepreneur: Regina L. Ward

Upon meeting with her and taking a look at all of my information together, I began to see that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, my credit score is not good, but the road to fixing it would be a journey, but as long as I stuck with it, I would be fine.

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Jennifer Lyle | Black History Month

Although she lost four pitch competitions in a row, Jennifer made sure every loss came with a learning opportunity and she came back to win over fourteen pitch competitions and grants which allowed her to debut her own production facility in Eastern Market. Lush Yummies Pie Company pies can now be found in national chain grocery stores, local markets, and she ships her pies nationwide through online sales despite recent struggles and adaptations around COVID-19.

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Jerome B. Brown & Samuel VanBuren | Black History Month

Jerome and his brother Samuel took the time to get to know the community in the neighborhood where they planned on establishing their business to better understand their needs, and Detroit Soul was born. A farm-to-table soul food restaurant with healthy food options made available to folks who often lack access to these choices.

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Sterling Wise | Black History Month

When it came to opening his facility, Sterling’s biggest challenge was being alone without business partners or expertise. He did not receive coaching from anyone at first and also took pride in doing everything on his own. And as a Black business owner and Black entrepreneur, he has always felt pressure do everything perfectly because he knows his work will be judged at a higher standard. Wise quickly realized that he needed to learn how to delegate and ask for help, because as he puts it “time is money.”

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Nya Marshall | Black History Month

Nya set off to fill the need for healthy Black-oriented dining options in her community by opening a restaurant but raising the capital to get started proved challenging. After all, it is not uncommon to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into one’s own business. And in a heavily male-dominated industry, self-funding her dream as a woman of color was not an easy feat, but she persevered.

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Yolanda Massey | Black History Month

Out of all the places, Yolanda first came across ProsperUs Detroit via an online survey. Some things are just fate. Although very resourceful and self-taught, she never had any formal business training up until this point. By August of 2020, Yolanda had already graduated from our Entrepreneur Training Program and by December of 2020 became the director for her childcare.

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Enid Parham | Black History Month

Being fully aware of the impasses imposed by an unjust system and the racist cannabis industry, she at times felt hesitant to dream big as a Black woman in this field. She cautiously joined FoodLab, fearful of being rejected because of the nature of her idea. Instead, she was welcomed with open arms and realized she could bring a unique perspective and insights to the group. Enid later applied and was accepted to the  FoodLab & ProsperUs Detroit collaborative, Tapestry Fellowship. 

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Introduction to Black History Month 2021

Stay tuned because we’ll be highlighting Black Entrepreneurs from our programs who are doing great things in their communities, who have dreamt and achieved, or who have stood up for their neighbors/community/people.

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ProsperUs Detroit Flagstar Grant Recipients Graphic

Flagstar Grant Winners

Flagstar Grant Winners Many congratulations to the Flagstar Bank Grant winners!  We are happy to know that you are among the 18 small businesses owned

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We’re Hiring: Program Coordinator

Link to apply: http://www.swsol.org/jobs/?gnk=job&gni=8a78879e7239c8240172ccfd3762712b Program Coordinator Full-Time/Hourly Reports to Program Manager   POSITION SUMMARY:   The Program Coordinator works with ProsperUS Detroit and its partners

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Remembering Monica Casarez

Remembering MONICA ECHEVERRI CASAREZ Our beloved trainer Monica Echeverri Casarez passed away Easter Sunday due to complications caused by Covid-19. Monica taught our Southwest Detroit cohorts and her

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