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!
When our second Challenge Project with ProsperUs began, our team knew very little about entrepreneurship. This was a new experience for all of us and we were excited to learn more about what ProsperUs does and entrench ourselves in the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Detroit.
The stakeholder interview process was eye opening for everyone on the team. Engaging in conversations with entrepreneurs provided our team with a real sense of how dedicated and persistent an entrepreneur has to be. We heard that there is no “cookie cutter” approach to entrepreneurship; no two entrepreneurs are alike and no two businesses are alike. With that being said, we also heard from our stakeholders that it can be a lonely process and that there was a desire to interact and work with other entrepreneurs. People and businesses thrive when they have a sense of belonging and community supporting them. This is where our team was able to step in.
Our team’s design question was: “How might we enhance comprehensive services to ensure borrower and grad needs are being met through business services, financial coaching, and additional resources?” Our main task was to design a high level peer-to-peer mentorship program for graduates of ProsperUs’s 12-week training program. Our team thought deeply on what a mentorship program would look like, especially one that could be easily implemented by ProsperUs, while also dreaming big.
It was clear from our time learning from our stakeholders that there was a need and want to develop relationships with other entrepreneurs, even if another entrepreneur was in a different industry. Entrepreneurs are intelligent and savvy, they understand that they might not know everything, and are constantly seeking new ways to improve their business.
Taneshia Greer, founder and owner of Natural Pours, said it best: “You never know too much. You never know enough. You never know it all.” This quote emphasizes the yearning for support and connection that entrepreneurs in Detroit possess. Entrepreneurs don’t have to go it alone, they just need the opportunity to connect and support one another. That’s where ProsperUs is seeking to expand its reach and facilitate connection amongst entrepreneurs.
Our team believes that our work for ProsperUs will provide a solid foundation for them to build off and begin the journey of further building a sense of community within the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Detroit.
Blog by Fellow Team: Kyra O’Guinn, Ian Hogg, Caroline Reed, Ahvae Richards, Megan Pham