The Michigan Women’s Foundation has been helping Michigan women achieve empowerment for thirty years. Their main mission is to:
- Develop the next generation of women leaders
- Accelerate women entrepreneurs
- Advance the Michigan’s women’s agenda
Entrepreneurship and Empowerment
Since their establishment, they’ve presented and supported programs across the state that serve to further this mission of empowerment. And, in 2013, they added accelerating women entrepreneurs to that agenda. When they noticed that only 4-7 percent of funding for entrepreneurs was going to women entrepreneurs, they launched their initiative. And now, that initiative is coming to Lansing.
While the program mainly aims to help lifestyle businesses in underserved areas, they are also focused on surrounding women entrepreneurs with support, education and expertise.
They may provide funding (anywhere from 2500 to 40,000) but they also provide support around that funding. “We know we can’t just throw money at these women and expect them to find success,” says Kris Ridings, the Assistant Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives at the foundation.
Through the program they have created 84 jobs, given $3 million in funding and assisted in getting $4.2 million into the state’s economy (in just two years!)
To kick off their introduction into the Lansing area, they are hosting the Entrepreneur You conference on March 1st. The conference is designed to teach women with a passion for entrepreneurship about the challenges and opportunities women encounter as they start and grow a business.
If you are simply thinking of starting a business or have started one and want to learn how to grow, the Entrepreneur You Conference will offer education in the areas of marketing, finance, hiring, sales, business modeling and more. Those attending will hear from local business leaders such as Tiffany Dowling, Jennifer Munoz, Denise Peak and Tom Donaldson.
For women interested in taking advantage of the entrepreneurship initiative, the conference is a great way to get acquainted with the foundation and all it has to offer. But, it only takes a glance at some of their stats to see that the Michigan Women’s Foundation is a fantastic resource for women in entrepreneurship.
“The (Lansing) marketplace is really ready for something like this,” says Ridings, “We looked at other areas before expanding and Lansing was further along and more receptive.”
Besides the conference, their initiative to further women entrepreneurs is bringing about even more programs focused on empowering women. Launching soon, they will be offering a peer roundtable. “It will be a safe space for women to come together and learn and grow and grow their businesses,” says Ridings. “These women need the same kind of peer support as CEOs.”
Ridings gets excited when she thinks about how receptive communities have been when they have introduced the initiative. They’ve already found success introducing their programming into Detroit and Grand Rapids and Ridings doesn’t have any worries about bringing it into Lansing. “The ecosystem here is fantastic,” she says.
Education and More
While the education aspect may be a large part of the initiative, women entrepreneurs can expect to find so much more when they team up with the Michigan Women’s Foundation to build their business.
They offer a wide array of programming and collaborate with other programs to throw events and host competitions.
You can find:
- The New Girls Network (a database of a network of women willing to offer support and education)
- The Dolphin Tank Pitch Competition (Get 6 months of training focusing on your pitch and presentation)
- Financial Classes (If completed, the bank will match what the participant paid for the class)
- Post Loan Assistance (Don’t just get money, get guidance and how to make the most of it)
- And much more
Lansing women looking to launch or find support for their business are encouraged to attend the conference (you can register here) or reach out to Ridings for more information.