“My hope for the future is a brick and mortar that allows guests to come through the front doors, have . . .Read More
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.
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.
“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.”
CommodiTeas began out of a community desire for tea and teaware that suited the aesthetic and lifestyle of Katrina Anderson’s family members.
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“My services started with landscaping and lawn care, but have since expanded to garden start-up, fall clean-ups, trimming, edging, blowing, tree removal, snow removal, and leaf removal,” lists Stewart. “Once I got started, I realized there was more I could do and more that my business could offer. And, of course, more money to be made.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
His last job gave him the experience which would fuel his dream of “finding a purpose” through business, but his stay at Freedom House inspired him to begin his cleaning company years ago by the idea of reconstructing Detroit.
Join the ProsperUS Training Program! We are looking for a bilingual Spanish/English instructor for the Entrepreneurship Training Program. To apply send your resume and a
US in the News: ProsperUS Entrepreneur Jennifer Lyle featured in O Magazine! Congratulations to Jennifer Lyle, owner of Lush Yummy Pie Co., who was recently featured in O Magazine’s A Guide
US in the News: “Community Leans in to Help Detroit Ice Cream Entrepreneur Through COVID-19” Model D Media We are always happy to share the achievements
US in the News: “Detroit nonprofits collaborate to launch equitable economic development program” Model D Media It brings us joy when the community acknowledges our entrepreneurs
Flagstar Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Grant Guidelines ProsperUS Detroit is partnering with Flagstar Bank to provide grants to small businesses in Detroit, Michigan. WINNERS ANNOUCED!
People of ProsperUS: Le’Genevieve Squires & Brittiany Peeler By: Mackenzie Hewitt Detroit natives Brittiany Peeler and Le’Genevieve Squires formalized their business, Experience Relish, in 2018. After
People of ProsperUS: Germain Jordan and Fatima Fleming By: Torisa Johnson Germaine Jordan and Fatima Fleming started their journey working in the food industry around
COVID-19 and the People of ProsperUS: Alison Heeres Interview and Photography by Kenny Karpov Our business, Coriander Kitchen and Farm is located in the
COVID-19 and the People of ProsperUS: Lester Gouvia Interview and Photography by Kenny Karpov We’re a casual fine dining Caribbean restaurant in the Jefferson-Chalmers
COVID-19 and the People of ProsperUS: Elisha Harrington Interview and Photography by Kenny Karpov “I am one of the owners of Ella Mae’s
COVID-19 and the People of ProsperUS : Sterling Wise Interview and Photography by Kenny Karpov “I am Sterling Wise, owner of The
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ProsperUS Detroit will be in your neighborhood soon! Two ProsperUS Detroit, staff members, Chris Butterfield, Small Business Advisor, and Amanda Brewington, Loan Officer, will be
This is the sixth post in “People of ProsperUS,” showcasing the incredible stories of entrepreneurs connected to ProsperUS. This post features Jennifer Lyle, the owner of Lush
This is the fourth post in “People of ProsperUS,” showcasing the incredible stories of entrepreneurs connected to ProsperUS. This post features Walter Winesberry, the owner
This is the third post in “People of ProsperUS,” showcasing the incredible stories of entrepreneurs connected to ProsperUS. This post features Nicole Scott, the owner of
This is the second post in “People of ProsperUS,” showcasing the incredible stories of entrepreneurs connected to ProsperUS. This post features JaTara Wright, the owner,
The ProsperUS Detroit team was thrilled by the outpouring of support and enthusiasm for the program and its entrepreneurs at its fifth annual event celebrating
Come out to get details about our Entrepreneur Training Program: January 23, 2017 Grand River WorkPlace 19120 Grand River Detroit, MI 48215 6pm Contact: Larissa Carr –
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ProsperUS November Networking Night Thursday, November 17, 2016, at 5:30 – 7:30 PM Vista Partnership / St. Anthony’s Church, 3555 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48216
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