CEED: Supporting Women Entrepreneurs Growth

Women are a major force in the in the world of entrepreneurship and a major economic engine in in the U.S. economy.  According to National Women’s Business Council, there are 7.8 million women-owned businesses in the United States.

Women-owned firms:

  • Account for 28.7% of all nonfarm businesses across the country and generate $1.2 trillion in total receipts.
  • Are more than half (52.0%) of all businesses in health care and social assistance.
  • Focus on educational services, administration, retail trade, arts/entertainment, and recreation.
  • And, Detroit has the largest percentage of women-owned businesses, followed by Baltimore, Milwaukee and Chicago.

Ms. Michelle Richards, Founder and Executive Director, Center for Empowerment & Economic Development (CEED), for her thoughts on the state of women-owned businesses across Detroit and the state.  This Detroit-area based organization assists women-owned businesses who are beginning and/or all expanding their operations.

CEED provides the following tools and educational resources which are vital for business success:

  • Business Training & Professional Development (BTPD)
  • Women’s Business Enterprise Council – Great Lakes (WBEC-GL)
  • Michigan Women’s Marketplace (MWM)  www.miwomen.com
  • Small Business Detroit Microloan Program

Under Richard’s leadership and despite the state’s economic challenges, CEED has strived, grown and been successful in addressing critical needs confronting business challenges for its members.  The organization firmly believes it’s critically important to empower women and diverse entrepreneurs by offering business development training, supplier certification, business-to-business networking and accessible capital assistance programs.  By removing barriers, in conjunction with business tools, CEED assists in developing successful and sustainable businesses while focusing on increasing growth opportunities—which are critical as Detroit’s economy continues to rebound and diversify.

Please tell us about CEED including services offered to members.

CEED is a nonprofit organization providing small business assistance to women and minorities.  Services include microloans (up to $ 50,000), business education, networking, market opportunity assistance and women’s business certification.

When women entrepreneurs join CEED, what specifically are they looking for?

Women come to CEED to address business growth needs.  They are looking for access to customers/contracts, financing, business counseling or all the above.

Please share, from your perspective, the overall economic landscape and how its impacted women-owned businesses in Michigan?  Has number of women-owned businesses increased or decreased in the last five years? 

Michigan has always on the list of states with significant numbers of women business owners.  In the past 5 years though, we have lost 6% of our women owned businesses and consequently moved down the list from number 8 to 10.  However, CEED continues to grow every year, which is remarkable after 29-years.  CEED is a dynamic organization that changes to meet the needs of its members.

Do you sense more women are looking to start a business despite the overall economic conditions?  In other words, please describe the overall business climate.  Is it a good time to start a business?

Like most changes in our lives, they are a result of a desire to address a frustration or need.  Many entrepreneurs feel that that starting a business is their only choice.  Starting a business in an economic downturn or economic boom can be a good decision.  It depends on the business niche that you are trying to serve, location, and overall business model.  The common denominator is to analyze and create a viable business plan.

What are key challenges confronting aspiring business owners and how can CEED provide assistance?

There are 5 key ingredients to creating a business.  They include: business planning and management information, access to market (customers), access to capital (debt or equity funding), business support network, and business advisors.  These tools in your business toolkit were needed 20 years ago as well as today.  The difference is the format in which you receive these “business ingredients”.  Today you can take business training online.  In fact, all of the ingredients can be obtained online.  Also, there are more organization like CEED to provide entrepreneurs with access to these resources.

CEED has been an integral part of Detroit’s landscape and is instrumental in providing support if you’re considering starting a business.  As the region continues to rebound and re-define itself, women-owned businesses will continue to have a critical and primary role in this city’s and state’s economic future.  This is an economic force that’s moving full-speed ahead.

And, this is something that’s sorely needed as the region continues to rebound.