For our first challenge of the 2021-2022 program year, we were thrilled to partner with Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance (MDBBA), a recently launched nonprofit committed to advocacy, programming, and providing resources for Black businesses and entrepreneurs led by President/CEO Charity Dean and COO Kai Bowman. Eight teams of Fellows supported this project – learn more from the perspective of each team! 

Where can you find the next generation of Black entrepreneurs?

The Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance (MDBBA) is cultivating cohorts of  Black entrepreneurs. They have a vision to build youth business acumen through an intensive summer internship, in conjunction with year-long learning opportunities. This multi-week course culminates in a completed business plan and a pitch competition where winners are awarded prize money. How can youth expect to be transformed by this odyssey? That’s where our team (Vanessa Vigier, Callie Brantley, Amanda VanDongen, Viridiana Camacho Murga, Thomas Cairgle) joined in with an openness to listen and an eye for human design, guided by the question, “How might we design a learning curriculum for the inaugural MDBBA’s summer youth entrepreneurship program?”

“Entrepreneurship is in the individual,” believes MDBBA stakeholder Chuck Nolan. MDBBA recognizes that this innate spirit must be nurtured. Harnessing talent means imparting practical tools and essential knowledge to thrive in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. MDBBA’s summer program will foster a community of youth entrepreneurs desiring to “express [themselves] by appealing to the needs of others” and applying the “creativity and passion of [their] craft.” Courses will center on business essentials, including marketing and advertising, financial planning, and pitching business plans. Programming will be coupled with experiential learning through mentorship.

Youth earn a living wage working for their mentor four days a week. Together, they define goals for the youth’s development and their business impact.. By the internship’s end, a mentee will have made a quantifiable improvement to their mentor’s company. Business mentors commit to weekly one-on-one mentee check-ins and weekly mentee progress updates to MDBBA. This reciprocal relationship perpetuates a prosperous Black-owned business community in the city of Detroit.

Throughout the course of the past seven weeks, our team created a curriculum, mentorship plan, and success metrics for the youth entrepreneurship summer program. We worked well together and put our best efforts into developing a comprehensive set of final deliverables. Overall, our team operated as a diverse group of individuals who found cohesion in working together on this project.