GRAND RAPIDS — A $150,000 federal grant will enable Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women to expand virtual entrepreneurial training into new areas of Michigan.
The nonprofit organization will use the Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME) grant first to take a “deep dive” into existing training programs to see “what’s working and what’s not working,” GROW Executive Director Bonnie Nawara said. GROW will then create “virtual classrooms” so training is more readily accessible in suburban and rural areas across the state.
GROW will look to contract with other entrepreneurial service organizations in the state and train volunteers to conduct the training online. GROW has had requests from smaller communities to host programs and training, but lacks the staff to expand, Nawara said.
“We’ll take our classes and create models for training and lease it out to other communities,” she said.
Partnering organizations could provide the trained volunteer staff in their markets to host the programs, Nawara said. That training could begin in additional areas in the second quarter of 2019, she added.
GROW was one of 32 organizations nationally in 24 states to share $5 million in PRIME grants that range from $75,000 to $250,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The grants are intended to help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to start and grow their own businesses.
Nationwide, 111 organizations applied for an SBA PRIME grant in the just-ended 20018 fiscal year.
“The PRIME Grant is an important tool to help underserved communities access the capital that they need to grow their businesses and create jobs,” said Constance Logan, the SBA’s Michigan district director.