In honor of Women's History Month, here are resources that have made a difference for me.
By Mariyah Saifuddin
This article was first published in March 2023, and has been updated in August 2023 to include additional resources.
March brings Women’s History Month, a busy time for organizations honoring and serving women business owners. Over the past 20 years in business I’ve seen the power of organizations coming together to improve the entrepreneur ecosystem for all involved. It’s just like business: Although the organizations may seem to compete, they each serve a particular need of a business owner and provide their own unique value.
As president-elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners Greater Detroit Chapter (NAWBO GDC) I see both sides of the coin, so to speak. A volunteer-driven organization means that active volunteers share their experiences and talents, which enables us to better serve the membership. It means relying on a team of your peers who are good at what they do and that have an active pulse on the immediate needs of the membership.
On the flip side, I constantly think of the value I am getting from every organization I choose to join. Each membership serves a purpose; some can even have a shelf-life. It’s all about thinking about what you want, need, or desire personally and professionally at this time in your career and business journey.
The recent NAWBO GDC MI Top 10 Business Women Awards was a sold-out room full of entrepreneurs, corporations supporting women business owners in their supply chain, government officials from the national level down to county level, and fellow organizations supporting the growth of diverse entrepreneurs. The message remains clear: It takes a village to support entrepreneurial growth, and the organizations in our region know how to come together to do just that.
Personally, I have availed myself of so many of these organizations, including NAWBO, The Great Lakes Women Business Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, Small Business Development Center, SBA and others.
In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a list of resources that can help anyone along their entrepreneurial journey. If you have others to add, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Women Entrepreneurs
National Association of Women Business Owners
NAWBO: NAWBO is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries, with chapters across the country. NAWBO is a one-stop resource which propels women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.
NAWBO Greater Detroit chapter: The local chapter, which provides support and resources for women business owners in the Detroit area.
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council: A leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive. Provides a certification standard for women-owned businesses as well as offer the tools to help them succeed.
The BOW Collective: The Black Owner & Women’s Collective is an organization launched in fall 2022 by a group of 50 black women business owners. The organization considers itself a group of “business philanthropists” who work together to bring awareness, business opportunities and capital resources to black women enterprises. (Added August 2023)
Women Elevating Business: W.E.W. was founded in 2018 and unites women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide, providing mentorship, peer advisory groups, networking and strategic partnerships. (Added August 2023)
Women’s Presidents Organization: This 26-year-old organization includes more than 2,000 members in 139 chapters across 10 countries. It sponsors a number of events and awards throughout the year and is targeted toward women entrepreneurs.
For Minority Entrepreneurs
The National Minority Supplier Development Council: A nonprofit organization founded in 1972 to advance business opportunities for its certified, minority-owned member businesses.
The Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council: An affiliate of the national organization, the National Minority Supplier Development Council. The organization connects minority-owned businesses with corporate buyers and facilitates more than $36 billion annually in economic output.
The Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce: A nonprofit organization that supports and promotes the economic advancement of Asian Pacific Americans.
SBA Detroit District Office: Provides resources and assistance to small businesses in the Detroit area, including training, counseling, and access to funding.
SCORE: A nonprofit organization that provides free business mentoring and resources to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.
Michigan Small Business Development Center: Offers a variety of services to help small businesses grow and succeed, including training, counseling, and access to funding.
Business Forward: A program by Oakland County, Michigan, that provides support to small businesses in the area through training, counseling, and access to funding.
APEX Accelerators: This program, formerly known as PTAP (Procurement Technical Assistance Program), provides education, direction and assistance to businesses interested in being government contractors. There are more than 90 APEX Accelerator programs operating across the United States. (Added August 2023)
SBIR and STTR programs: These programs for federal research funds are highly competitive. They enable small businesses to explore their tech potential and bridge the gap between science and commercialization of innovations. Central to the STTR program is partnership between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions. (Added August 2023)
Initiative for a Competitive Inner City: ICIC’s Urban Business Initiatives program works to help small businesses in inner-city areas grow and thrive through training, coaching, and access to capital.
10KSB Detroit: Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a program that provides training, resources, and support to small business owners to help them grow their businesses.
Interise’s StreetWise MBA program: Designed to help small business owners develop the skills and knowledge needed to grow their businesses and create jobs in their communities.
Verizon’s Small Business Training: This program provides free training and resources to help small businesses improve their digital skills and grow their online presence.
BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting (BBCETC): Originally formed in 1990 as Biotechnology Business Consulting, this organization has since expanded to include a wider range of technological innovations. It provides onsite and virtual training for companies seeking grants through SBIR (Small Business innovation) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) programs. (Added August 2023)
More small-business resources
Hello Alice: A platform that offers resources, tools and networking opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The membership-based organization works on behalf of SBOs to secure relevant business solutions and funding opportunities.
Digital Tool Library: Free digital resources from the Small Business Digital Alliance to help you grow your business.
Ten Steps to Start Your Business: A business guide from the U.S. Small Business Administration.