MEDC Helps Launch $10 Million Microloan Fund for Women, Veterans and All Entrepreneurs of Color

Thursday, March 16, 2023

 Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II joined Michigan Women Forward (MWF), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Huntington National Bank and the Ballmer Group today to announce the launch of a new $10 million microbusiness loan program for women and entrepreneurs of color in Michigan.

The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will lend to individuals who don’t qualify for traditional loans through banks or other financial institutions, providing opportunities for those who are socially and economically disadvantaged due to a lack of access to capital and credit.

“Starting and growing a business takes grit, courage and tenacity – and here in Michigan, that runs deep in our DNA,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., MEDC CEO. “By taking a truly Team Michigan approach, this new fund will facilitate more risk-takers across the state in acquiring access to the capital and support they need to be successful and build a future right here in Michigan. Work remains to aid microbusinesses, but this is a significant and praiseworthy start.”

The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will be managed by MWF, a certified community development financial institution (CDFI). The organization will have more flexibility in allowing microbusinesses the same opportunity as larger companies. The MWF will process applications that come through its website, along with referrals made by its banking institution partners.

"The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will change the trajectory of a Michigan small business owner,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of MWF. “This funding will build a sustainable business, generate wealth for that individual and ultimately, impact the state’s economy and create jobs in the communities in which we live.”

Partial support for this program comes from a $1 million grant from MEDC and a $1.5 million State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) loan participation. The SSBCI program provides federal funding to states to empower small businesses to access capital needed to invest in job-creating opportunities as the country emerges from the pandemic.

The SSBCI funds being contributed to the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will promote entrepreneurship and democratize access to startup capital, including for those in traditionally underserved communities.

Additional funding comes from a $1.5 million investment from launch partner Huntington National Bank and $1.5 million in grant support from Ballmer Group. An additional $2 million from other private funders will be announced later in 2023.

MWF will manage the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund by processing applications that come through its website, along with referrals made by its banking institution partners. Huntington National Bank will provide an additional pool of applicants through its Lift Local Business® program that supports minority-, women- and veteran-owned small businesses.

“Providing access to capital for small businesses that impact the economy in our communities is important to Huntington. Programs like the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund are excellent resources to aid business owners who may not otherwise qualify for traditional loans through banks or other financial institutions,” said Sandy Pierce, senior executive vice president and chair of Michigan at Huntington National Bank. “We are proud to work with Michigan Women Forward, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Ballmer Group to bring this new lending solution to fruition.”

Entrepreneurs will be able to apply for up to $50,000 in loans through this program. With the average loan managed by MWF at $25,000, the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will be able to assist approximately 400 entrepreneurs. Last year, the nonprofit organization provided 88 loans for $2.456 million invested in primarily women-owned businesses.

Women, veterans and all entrepreneurs of color can apply for Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund loans by visiting

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.