Grand Rapids Business Center Helps Women Reach Their Economic Goals – Grand Valley Lanthorn
Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) works with women who aspire to become business owners and seek to become economically independent. By providing small business training, networking opportunities and entrepreneurial training, GROW gives women the encouragement and resources to take their first steps.
Marketing and Communications Director Elyse Wild has been with GROW since August 2020 and is helping to “create a self-sufficient and fair West Michigan through business ownership,” she said.
GROW provides business loans to people with poor credit and nothing to secure the loan. They work with their clients to get them approved and help guide them on a successful path to paying it back.
The Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) takes off at GROW. It provides credit and financial services, and GROW receives money from the federal government to deploy in underserved minority communities.
Customers do not need to apply for a loan to use the resources offered. Whether you are a new or established business owner, GROW offers free training and webinars open to anyone, where customers can get the information they need to achieve their business goals. Clients are matched with a Business Development Officer on staff, and that Officer is the client’s resource for everything.
“The officer is not holding their hand but is walking alongside them,” Wild said.
It was not until 1988 that women were able to obtain a business loan without the signature of a male relative. GROW believes in standing up for women in business because even though women have come this far in the workforce, they are still three times less likely than men to get a loan for their business.
“We are making women in the workforce a priority,” said Wild. “Women use their wealth in ways that have a positive impact on the community more than men. “
Many people contact GROW for help and advice, but the company also does a lot of outreach itself. They are working on how to engage with women who don’t have a defined business idea. As GROW helps women achieve their economic goals, it gives them control over their lives and their schedules.
“When women come to GROW to start their own businesses, they thrive,” said Wild.
GROW already serves nine counties in western Michigan, but plans to expand and create a larger presence in new locations.