GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — SpringGR is a nonprofit supporting underserved entrepreneurs and they recently led a study that found people of color own less than one percent of businesses generating $250,000 per year in Grand Rapids.
The research used data from Demographics Now and highlights the immediate need in West Michigan for a program helping minority entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses.
SpringGR’s new program, The 250 Project, aims to do just that with a nationally tested curriculum.
“We work with diverse entrepreneurs daily to start their businesses. Our next step is helping them grow those businesses and break this invisible barrier that exists in our community,” said Attah Obande, the director of dream fulfillment at SpringGR. “Through The 250 Project, we are eager to tackle this challenge with a nationally recognized education curriculum and valuable connections across our community.”
SpringGR will partner with 13 local business owners as part of The 250 Project’s first seven-month cohort that kicked off on February 10, 2022. Participating small businesses include a leadership consulting group, a car wash, a youth sports development organization, and more.
“SpringGR was founded to make sure diverse entrepreneurs have a home in Grand Rapids,” said Obande. “This project will provide practical, hands-on business education from experts in the field and is in line with the DeVos family’s original vision for SpringGR of coming alongside entrepreneurs.”
The nonprofit was launched in spring 2014 and created in partnership with the DeVos family for underserved entrepreneurs as they develop the necessary skills to build strong businesses. The vast majority of SpringGR’s 738 graduates are people of color and 68 percent are women.
The 250 Project is the next phase of the organization’s mission by creating a more inclusive community ecosystem for entrepreneurs.
“This project is the result of a community of leaders and entrepreneurial support organizations coming together to address this problem,” said Rick Baker, president and CEO, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. “We are looking forward to this investment of entrepreneurship and the positive impact it will have on our community and beyond.”
The second cohort will begin in fall 2022 and participants must apply for The 250 Project. To be eligible, the participant must meet the following requirements:
- Ethnic minority business owners with 51% or greater ownership of the business.
- $100,000 + in annual revenues.
- One other employee besides the owner(s).
- Been in business for at least 2 years.
- Willingness and ability to attend a 6-month course, complete mandatory assignments, and complete program surveys as requested.
To learn more about the 250 Project and apply visit: https://www.springgr.com/the-250-project