When we talk about opportunity in Detroit, we need to make sure we’re talking about opportunity for everyone. This is at the core of our organization, Bamboo Detroit, and many of the growing organizations serving Detroit’s grassroot entrepreneurs.
An entrepreneur can come in any form. It’s the coffee shop owner down the street, the repair man you call for help, it could even been your friend who’s always wanted to start that blog or journey down a creative independent path. There a ton of these folks in Detroit, a city known for it’s hussle and it’s pride in work. In fact, a recent article in Forbes magazine showed us that minority entrepreneurs, African American women, are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the city.
We started Bamboo Detroit a little over two years ago. From what started off as four business partners, we’ve grown to serving almost 100 entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. We have teams building tech companies, running non-profits, writing and designing, or making craft iphone cases that Richard Branson even wants to purchase. For us, building a diverse business community started all the way at the top with leadership. When you have a woman, a white male, and two African american men working together all native to Detroit and the region, you start to attract a diverse community. What does your leadership look like?
But diversity is also intentional and it must be if we’re going to spur business development in the city. To grow our entrepreneurial community, we host frequent free or low-cost community events and workshops that offer training and insight into the world of entrepreneurship. We make sure to bring in women speakers and men speakers who have successfully ran a company or dominated their industry. You have to show others that if you see it, you can be it. Exposure is often the first step.
Many organizations are doing a great job already helping build a diverse ecosystem of businesses, whether it’s the FoodLab Detroit’s now 145 entrepreneurs growing food companies, or the Build Institute’s small business program graduates, if you’re looking for diverse entrepreneurs we are here and we are here to support one another.
To continue to make opportunity for everyone, let’s be conscious about who we’re doing business with, who’s invited to speak or lead, and what sort of community we’re building as a whole. Let’s make room for all in the revitalization of Detroit starting with resources, space, and our greatest untapped resource – our people.