GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Underserved entrepreneurs were out at Woodland Mall Saturday in Grand Rapids, showcasing their skills and products ahead of Mother's Day.
Their businesses were all made possible thanks to mentorship and training.
“And it’s just a great time for people to shop and enjoy and see all the great products that these entrepreneurs have come up with,” says Attah Obande, director of dream fulfillment at Spring GR.
Obande is coaching people in West Michigan on how to start their own business.
“So we do a 12-week training program that equips entrepreneurs with all the principals they need to be able to run successful businesses,” says Obande.
About 30 of those businesses got together Saturday for a Spring GR alumni event, showcasing all the people who've come through the program.
Business owners gathered outside Von Maur at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids with products ranging from baked goods, gift baskets, skin care and clothing--all perfect for last-minute Mother's Day gifts.
There were even services to help people better manage their money.
"With the pandemic, we realized that there’s a high need and demand for financial literacy," says 1428 Financial Wellness Founder Dondreá Brown, "but not just your typical financial literacy; your in-depth, one-on-one financial literacy."
Brown's business is providing resources for adults and children, making it fun to learn for the entire family.
“We paired up with my lovely little kids to find out ways that we can really make it fun and engaging," says Brown, "so having things like stickers and flashcards and images on them, but also really trying to be there for our community."
A lot of people have great ideas for businesses or services, but they don't really know how to get started or make them sustainable.
The one-on-one coaching seems to help.
The majority of the programs are geared toward the underserved. 87% of graduates are minorities, 67% are women. But any backgrounds are welcome.
“Supporting our small businesses is extremely important especially right now in the middle of a pandemic," says Obande. "We’ve had so many of these businesses that have had to turn on the dime and pivot and look at their business models a little bit different. And so this is just a great way to support them and help the local economy right here in Grand Rapids.”
The event only lasted for a day.
You can learn more about the programs offered at springgr.com. There, you'll also find a directory of participating businesses.