Michigan Women Forward (MWF), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Huntington National Bank and the Ballmer Group have launched a $10m microbusiness loan program for women and entrepreneurs of color in Michigan. The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will lend to those who are socially and economically disadvantaged due to a lack of access to capital and credit. MWF will manage the fund, processing applications that come through its website and referrals made by its banking institution partners.
Entrepreneurs will be able to apply for up to $50,000 in loans. With the average loan managed by MWF at $25,000, the fund will assist approximately 400 entrepreneurs. Last year, the nonprofit organisation provided 88 loans for $2.456m invested in primarily women-owned businesses. The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund is partially supported by a $1m grant from the MEDC, and a $1.5m State Small Business Credit Initiative loan participation. An additional $2m from other private funders will be announced later in 2023. The SSBCI programme provides federal funding to states to empower small businesses to access capital needed to invest in job-creating opportunities. The SSBCI funds being contributed to the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will promote entrepreneurship and democratise access to start-up capital, including for those in traditionally underserved communities.