small businesses

Courtesy photo | GreenHouse Productions, LLC

An initiative designed to increase prosperity in Kalamazoo returns for the second year. The Kalamazoo Black Business Expo will be held Aug. 24. It will showcase 60 African-American entrepreneurs, up from 40 last year.  The city of Kalamazoo once again is a lead sponsor and four others have signed on, including the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and two banks.

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Black women are the fastest growing group of business owners, says a new report. From 2007 to 2018, black female-led businesses grew by 164 percent as compared to 58 percent overall for all women businesses for the same period. The Kalamazoo area is also seeing a spike. It's leading to the creation of new groups, workshops and conferences to provide opportunities for skill-building, support and financing for black and other women entrepreneurs of color. 

Earlene McMichael | WMUK

Did you know black women are the fastest growing group of business owners? From 2007 to 2018, black female-led businesses grew by 164 percent, says a new report. To appreciate the magnitude of the growth, consider that, overall, the number of women businesses rose 58 percent for the same period. Yet, things like this happen: Nicole Parker says a professor once discouraged her from focusing on black female entrepreneurship for her master's degree research. Undeterred, Nicole Parker and three of her sisters decided to form Sisters in Business.

Courtesy photo | SCORE

For 38 years, a group of retired and active business professionals have been providing free mentoring to Southwest Michigan's small-business owners and aspiring ones. In 2017, they served 367 businesses, up more than 100 from the previous year.

That helped SCORE Kalamazoo/SW Michigan, a local affiliate of a national organization serving entrepreneurs, to recently be named Chapter of the Year in Michigan.

The chapter continues to add new programs, including its Entrepreneurship Day of workshops begun three years ago and, just this year, the Kalamazoo Capital Consortium to link entrepreneurs with interested lenders.

Earlene McMichael | WMUK

Increasing entrepreneurship could help reduce the high rate of poverty in the city of Kalamazoo, according to Neighborhood Business Coordinator Dwayne Powell Jr. He says that's why the city agreed to be a partner with the inaugural Kalamazoo Black Business Expo being held from 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.