LaunchDETROIT is seeking entrepreneurs who live and work in Detroit to apply online at www.LaunchDetroit.org for this multi-faceted program that offers a combination of free business training, micro loans of $1,000 to $2,500, assigned business mentors and networking opportunities.
The mission of LaunchDETROIT is to support and develop entrepreneurs and small businesses in under-resourced communities in the Detroit region. Since the program was introduced in 2013 by Rotary volunteers in District 6400, it has achieved national attention and international recognition from Rotary International, the world’s oldest service organization headquartered in Evanston, Illinois.
“We awarded our first micro-loans in January 2014 and 2015 in a program that is still in its infancy,” said Rotarian Lawrence Wright, president of the LaunchDETROIT initiative. “We’ve learned a lot through the process, which is being well documented by Rotary International. Currently, we’re accepting applications for our third round of entrepreneurs.”
According to Wright, LaunchDETROIT volunteers have learned that business training and mentoring are two of the key components that entrepreneurs seek.
“We’re very fortunate to have Baker College of Allen Park, as a partner to provide free business training classes,” said Wright. “During the first year of our program, entrepreneurs attended five weekly, three-hour classes at Baker’s Allen Park campus. It was Baker’s administration and instructors who encouraged us to increase the number of classes to ensure that entrepreneurs finish the coursework with a solid business plan. This year, we’re increasing the attendance requirement to eight classes.”
The deadline to apply online for the LaunchDETROIT program is August 21, 2015, and qualifying candidates will be interviewed in September. Successful candidates must have a business product or service that will enable them to repay their loan within one year through regular installments.
Upon completion of business training that begins in October and ends with business plan presentations in November, the LaunchDETROIT selection committee will interview candidates for micro-loans to be awarded in January 2016. A business mentor is assigned to each qualifying candidate.
Entrepreneur Willie Brake, owner of All About Technology, Inc., was among the first group of entrepreneurs to participate in LaunchDETROIT and credited the program with allowing him to expand his business to a retail location on Michigan Avenue, west of Livernois Avenue, in Detroit.
Brake’s testimonial, along with other entrepreneur photo and video testimonials, are available on the LaunchDETROIT website.
“The personal relationships that have formed between our entrepreneurs, their mentors and Rotary volunteers have been a wonderful extension of this program,” added Wright. “We feel like family.”
LaunchDETROIT is a non-profit program powered by Rotary volunteers from District 6400, which serves southeast Michigan and southwest Ontario. Questions may be emailed to contact@LaunchDetroit.org.