The Power of 100 Women

By Amanda Lewan on August 4th, 2015 / Comments

Carolyn Cassin remembers Detroit in 2009 as most of us do: devastated. A business women who had successfully grown and led a company public, she learned everything about business from the city she saw now distraught and suffering.

What could one woman do? She could help to spark a movement that now financially supports women business owners in our region. Carolyn gathered 100 women together to do something for the city and the Michigan Women’s Foundation.

“We called ourselves the power of 100 women. We figured that 100 women could really begin to break the economic pathway where women are shutout from the banking world,” she said. “So, we created a venture fund and a micro loan fund.”

The results have been phenomonal. The Michigan Women’s Microloan Program and Belle Capital, the two ventures Carolyn mentions, help women finance their business anywhere from $5,000 – $300,000.

“We’re investing in women owned businesses in Michigan and showing that women can lead the way. There’s no lack of dealflow,” she said.  “There’s no lack of women interested in starting a business. They just need access to resources they need, and they succeed.”

So far not a single women has defaulted on paying their loan back for the foundation’s program. On the venture capital side, Belle Capital has invested in companies from all industries including health care, technology, auto industry, and manufacturing.

Advice for Women Seeking Capital

Women often need to learn the language of finance. Carolyn offers a few great tips for our readers from the world of funding.

Money is at the heart of every successful business. Learn it.  Carolyn suggest to learn everything you can about your funds. You have to know your financials to sustain the company, to sell the product, and grow your cash to succeed. She expressed that not all women are confident in the language of finance, so learn it!

Be clear with your investor. If you’re looking for venture capital then learn to be very clear to your investor. Be clear in defining how you will pay back the investor.  Also, she says to ask yourself the tough questions: do you really want this investor to own a portion of your company? Carolyn describes the relationship as “a more serious proposition than  marrying someone.”

Know your passions and live it. When Carolyn was working in the health care industry she knew that she was passionate about her work. She’s continued to stay in a role that fuels her passion, and says it makes a big difference.

“Are you sure you want to do this? If you don’t wake up every morning excited about this it’s not for you.”

Learn more about the foundation, and find other Michigan funding sources from our directory.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.