For our second challenge of the 2022-2023 program year, we partnered with ProsperUs Detroit, a nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs with opportunities and capital needed to build businesses, generational wealth, and vibrant neighborhoods. Five teams of Fellows worked collaboratively with the ProsperUs staff as well as community stakeholders to create deliverables for this project – learn more from the perspective of each team! 

Humbled by our first stakeholder interview with Mamba Hamissi, co-founder of Baobab Fare, our team quickly realized that entrepreneurship is no joke, and can be extremely isolating. Mamba spoke with us about how distant he felt from others during his entrepreneurship journey and his need for greater connection with ProsperUs staff and fellow entrepreneurs. Other stakeholders echoed Mamba’s sentiments, emphasizing the need for an entrepreneur community where individuals could collaborate, look to each other for guidance, and confide in.  

Especially in a rapidly changing world with increasingly blurred work and home life boundaries, business and personal affairs are easily entangled, exacerbating stress on all fronts. Furthermore, due to heavy stigmas attached to mental health and the ideal “entrepreneur image,” well-being is not an easy or desirable topic for many. 

The silence around the “ugly” side of entrepreneurship leaves entrepreneurs feeling pressured to present nothing less than “success” – narrowly defined with no room for errors. Mamba emphasized the need for entrepreneurs to talk with one another and expose these false and harmful narratives. Entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs; successes and failures; joy and tears, and accepting and honoring all aspects of this process is vital to maintaining balance and growth. 

Building from stakeholder perspectives, there was an evident need for mental health to be implemented throughout entrepreneurs’ process with ProsperUs to mitigate the stigma of mental health and provide entrepreneurs with the resources and platforms to empower themselves in their mental health journey. The team’s deliverables included recommendations for entrepreneur-led support groups based upon varying life situations, creative merchandise that normalizes mental health struggles on the pathway to success, and wellness-centered workshops. 

Our team is sincerely grateful for this opportunity to have learned from Mamba and numerous stakeholders, who shared their honest experiences of entrepreneurship and how they maintained well-being, even in the face of a diverse array of professional and personal challenges. We are also grateful for the guidance and support provided by our ProsperUs Detroit liaisons, who encouraged us to approach the topic from different angles, and through more informed viewpoints.

Blog by Fellow Team: Hannah Rickard, Jaylyn King, Jo-Charta Rogers, Desirée Quinn, Nathan Schooner, Amani Abuelenain