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! 

Our team with our stellar project liaisons from ProsperUs – Shakir, Matthew, and LeRobert.

The Property Ownership and Real Estate for Entrepreneurs team dove right into our design thinking question: “How might we engage with community partners and entrepreneurs to create opportunities for property ownership and commercial development led by neighborhood entrepreneurs for their communities?” 

We had the opportunity to get perspective from both ProsperUs Entrepreneurs about their needs and Community Development Organizations about available resources. While the CDOs shared incredible insight, it was the experiences of the Entrepreneurs who really motivated our outcomes. 

During an interview with Austin Davenport, owner of Simply Social Events space, he told us about processes that Entrepreneurs should be familiar with before they move into a physical space, because there are so many technicalities involved with commercial building usage. While he’s familiar with processes like zoning and land use now, he had to learn them through trial and error. 

“A lot of people may not fully understand the process. If somebody would have given me a zoning change S.O.P. that says these systems have different standard requirements, that would’ve saved us a lot of heartache right now.”

It seemed that each Entrepreneur we spoke with experienced some unforeseen economic obstacles when they were moving into a brick and mortar business, including changing zoning use, being affected by delinquent bills, or being burned by contractors. While each business is  unique, our team noticed that there was a lack of centralized process education, leaving Entrepreneurs to deal with consequential financial and time setbacks. Our team saw this as an opportunity to further enable ProsperUs with procedural knowledge and resources to pass on to their Entrepreneurs.

Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart, given all of the unforeseen circumstances. Despite the individual obstacles, there are shared experiences among Entrepreneurs, and they can share knowledge and resources to help bring about each other’s long-term success.

Blog By Fellow Team: Serena Brewer, Donald Stuckey, Kellie Wasikowski, Diamonique Thomas, Victor Martinez